Don't "Shake Off" These 5 Business, Brand and Legal Lessons From Taylor Swift Whether you're a fan of her music or not, Taylor Swift's success is undeniable. Here are five business lessons learned from Taylor Swift.
- Taylor Swift's record-breaking Eras Tour and new billionaire status make her one of the most successful singers ever.
- She showcases astute business acumen, providing valuable lessons on branding, fan engagement and protecting intellectual property.
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The results are in, and Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert film, released October 13, 2023, in theaters, is the highest-grossing concert film domestically ever. Swift's latest album, 1989 (Taylor's Version), opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. She's had 13 No. 1 albums over the years (tied with Drake) — only the Beatles, who had 19 No. 1s and Jay-Z, with 14, have more.
You no doubt heard about her Eras Tour, which saw sell-out shows to massive stadium crowds for 52 dates across the U.S. She will bring in more than $1 billion in ticket sales. She's in the midst of the overseas portion of the tour, but she also recently added more dates in North America for the latter part of 2024.
Whether or not you're a fan of her music, it's clear that Taylor Swift is one of the most popular recording artists and performers ever — and she is perhaps at the peak of her career after all these years in the spotlight.
She's also a savvy businesswoman (and newly minted billionaire). You can't get this far if you're not, no matter how talented you are.
As entrepreneurs, there are many lessons we can learn about business, marketing and protecting our intellectual property from Taylor Swift. These are five of the most important ones.
Never forget your "fans"
Swift fans are known as "Swifties," and they range in age from 8 to 80 and come from all sorts of backgrounds. Entire multigenerational families go to Swift concerts. It's pretty rare these days to have an artist with such universal appeal.
From the stage, she has always been very thankful for their support. Indeed, whenever she makes a public appearance, she is quick to display her gratitude. She's also active on social media and engages with her fans there. She's even been known to send them big boxes of merchandise and "swag" or invite them backstage or to events.
The lesson here: Treat your customers well. Give them your all. Create great products. Provide great customer service. Interact with them on social media. Become a valuable part of their lives. This will pay off in the form of raving fans who become your ambassadors in the world — online and offline.
One of the major reasons Swift has been so popular and continues to be so — if not now more than ever — is she has an appealing personal brand. Fans don't just listen to her music. They feel like they know her thanks to her lyrics, which are very personal and based on her life experiences.
For you as a business owner, it can feel a bit narcissistic to put yourself out there front and center. But connecting with your prospects and customers and letting them get to know you through a blog, social media posts, videos, web content and the like can make your marketing and sales that much easier. There is a reason influencers and "gurus" do so well.
The lesson here: Often, people today aren't interested in simply buying "products." They want to buy into a "story" or a "lifestyle." They want a personal connection to a personality or a brand, and talking to them about your personal journey can do that.
Swift knows fans have spent a lot of money and time to attend her concerts and that it's a massive deal for them. So she's gone all-in with her stadium show, which features pyrotechnics, special effects and multiple outfit changes.
And she puts on a show, playing for hours and including the hits and fan favorites — of which she has so many — so everybody can sing along. Not only that but when rain threatened to cancel a concert, Swift played in a full-on downpour.
The lesson here: It's simple. Give your audience a great experience!
Adapt and evolve as needed
Swift wasn't always a certified pop star. Her early career focused on more of a country music style. But she was not afraid to grow as an artist, musician and performer, seeking out collaborators to help her incorporate a more pop sound, with even a bit of indie rock and dance thrown in there. It's doubtful that if she had stuck with country, she would be selling out stadiums worldwide. Of course, throughout all the changes in genre, she has stayed true to who she is — that always shines through.
As an entrepreneur, it's tempting to stick with the same-old, same-old and grind away in your business. But often, no matter how hard you work, you won't be successful. Perhaps the product doesn't have a big enough audience, or your marketing channels aren't appropriate for your niche.
The lesson here: Don't be afraid to pivot and try new tactics and strategies. In extreme cases, you might have to completely abandon your messaging and try something different.
Protect your intellectual property
There is a reason Swift's latest album and all the songs on it include this part: (Taylor's Version).
You see, the album 1989 originally came out in 2014. But she re-recorded and re-released it, as she has with other albums. The motivation is to take back control of her own work. All of her "original" album master recordings from 2019 and before were owned by her old record label. That's standard practice for new artists. But that label was bought by music manager Scooter Braun, who then sold it to another company for $300 million.
Swift was ready to buy her own masters but was denied. Her catalog is just too lucrative for the owners. Re-recording all the albums and encouraging fans to purchase and stream these "new" songs is a way for her to regain control of her creative work and all the effort she put into crafting her career.
Regarding your business, the lesson is to protect your intellectual property with copyrights and trademarks. This includes trademarking your product names, logos, slogans and taglines and registering the copyright for written, audio or visual content you create.
You don't have to be a fan of her music to appreciate Taylor Swift's success in running her business affairs. She's a savvy marketer, an innovative entrepreneur who is not afraid to adapt to new situations, and always ready to take on new challenges — and we can all learn from her example.