ABC/Richard Harbaugh Many pundits have written about how the music industry is in dire straits, as album sales continue to shrink and artists who regularly hit #1 can barely manage a top 10 debut these days. But one person who’s optimistic about the music industry — and the future of the album as an art form — is Taylor Swift. In fact, she’s even written an op-ed on the topic for the Wall Street Journal.
“I’d like to point out that people [are] still buying albums, but now they’re buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone,” writes Taylor, and she should know, since her own multimillion-selling albums fit this description.
“There are always going to be those artists who break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever,” she adds. “We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren. As an artist, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our fans.”
So how can artists establish this bond? Taylor says keeping the audience guessing is a key.
“I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say ‘shock’; I said ‘surprise,’” she writes.
As an example, she adds, “In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me.”
“I hope the next generation’s artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be,” writes Taylor.
Taylor also says that in her opinion, the distinction between musical genres is becoming obsolete, and so are autographs. “I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera,” she points out. “The only memento ‘kids these days’ want is a selfie.”
She concludes by writing, “This moment in music is so exciting because the creative avenues an artist can explore are limitless…The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.”
So where does Taylor see herself in this brave new musical future? “I’ll just be sitting back and growing old, watching all of this happen or not happen, all the while trying to maintain a life rooted in this same optimism,” she writes. “And I’d also like a nice garden.”
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