Why Taylor Swift is equal parts genius and infuriating…

You see her everywhere. Whether you love her or hate her, this girl knows how to make money–a lot of it. Here’s three things she’s doing that make her more successful than the average pop tart megastar…

The girl is catchy.

There’s not much more to her music than that. Even if you hate her, you will still have one of her songs stuck in your head at some point. And that’s the whole idea… because one day you may sing along. And then the next day you may go out of your way to listen to it. Mind games, man. It’s all mind games.

Sex sells, but keeping it PG sells even more.

Aka, she understands her target audience from a mass marketing standpoint. She didn’t take the plunge into a sex-driven image once she matured, like other female music artists who have grown up in the spotlight have (i.e., Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and more recently Miley Cyrus). So, in addition to the twenty-somethings that grew right along with her (I got to celebrate my 22nd birthday with her song ‘22’ blasting on the radio on my ride home), she is able to penetrate other age groups ranging from young girls to their parents. While taking your 12-year-old to a Miley Cyrus concert may cause child services to come and relieve you of your motherly duties, that’s not the case with Swift. Twenty-year-olds want to go to her concerts with their best friends or drag their (poor) boyfriends, and the 12-year-olds will drag their parents. She has tripled her audience and magnified her profits by not turning to sexuality in her music, her videos, and her live appearances.

She understands supply and demand.

A basic economic concept that eludes most 24-year-olds. On November 3rd, Swift completely removed her music from free-streaming sites. Since you can no longer listen to her on music platforms like Spotify (though her music is still on Pandora, Beats Music and Rdio), she is cutting her supply and increasing her demand. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this has everything to do with the recent release of her fifth studio album, 1989, and the fact that no artist has gone platinum yet in 2014. She spoke out about music needing to be consumed in the form of albums, not only during an acceptance speech at the American Music Awards, but also all the way back in July when she wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal (link is to an overview of the piece, since you cannot read the WSJ article without a subscription).
The girl is igniting a fire that is going to royally screw with my Spotify playlists while I’m at work, seeing as Jason Aldean and countless other artists followed suit and pulled their music from Spotify after Swift… but I can’t hate on her for it. It was a smart move, albeit annoying. And it’s working. Her album sales are through the roof – hell, I even considered buying it for a second. However, she is attempting to revive a product that I would argue is on a market decline (or very close to it). When was the last time you purchased a CD? Just like books will soon be obsolete in the wake of e-readers; just like buying VHS and DVDs are slowly being replaced by RedBox and Netflix; albums for consumption is a declining industry, shifting with the times toward .mp3s and iTunes purchases which are currently in the growth phase (and are more likely to be purchased on a per-song basis rather than an entire album). While one business-savvy mega-star may not completely alter the market structure with a few groundbreaking actions, these calculated moves will definitely have an impact that we will see the effects of very soon. All I will say regarding this is, I’m now finding myself cranking her new song just a little bit louder when it comes on the radio, since I’m unable to listen to it on Spotify.

Taylor Swift just mind-fucked the world with a business model. And—love her or hate her—that’s why she will stay on top.

I’m only adding this music video so I can come back here and shamefully watch it, over and over. Damn you, T-Swift. Damn you.

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