Taylor Swift wrote a lengthy op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which she pontificated on the state of the music industry, declining record sales and her thoughts on how artists approach their careers. All I got from reading it is that TaySwift will never give you shit for free and you will always have to pay up, because she’s worth it.
Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it’s just coming alive.
There are many (many) people who predict the downfall of music sales and the irrelevancy of the album as an economic entity. I am not one of them. In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.
In recent years, you’ve probably read the articles about major recording artists who have decided to practically give their music away, for this promotion or that exclusive deal. My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet…is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.
Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.
This article does go on from there (and on and on…) and she waffles on about how much she loves her fans, comparing her relationship with them to an open romantic relationship and explaining how much heart and soul she puts into each of her albums. Look, T – you’ve got me. I’m convinced. You’re the real deal, a true singer-songwriter and the world loves you. I don’t need any more convincing.
On the other hand, I do get what she means in terms of female artists – and all artists, really – demanding what they’re worth. No one wants to work for free, and even artists want/need to make a living. However, I also don’t think anyone NEEDS $80 million. Ever. It’s just not necessary. There’s a difference between demanding what you’re worth and being greedy, but given that that’s the going rate of celebrity, I guess she’s within her rights.