A strong voice for artists

Tay­lor Swift’s call for change res­onates with mu­si­cians in clash over Ap­ple ser­vice.

Los Angeles Times - - WORK LIFE - By Jena McGre­gor Jena McGre­gor writes a daily col­umn an­a­lyz­ing lead­er­ship in the news for the Washington Post’s On Lead­er­ship sec­tion.

Ear­lier this year, when For­tune Mag­a­zine ranked Tay­lor Swift No. 6 on its list of the “world’s great­est lead­ers” — ahead of GM CEO Mary Barra, Face­book’s Mark Zucker­berg and Bill and Melinda Gates — the haters, well, hated.

One com­menter on For­tune’s story said, “For­tune just lost my re­spect...Tay­lor Swift??? C’mon.” On Twit­ter, some re­sponded with con­fu­sion.

“For­tune Mag­a­zine’s def­i­ni­tion of LEADER needs some ex­plain­ing,” one for­mer CEO wrote. And to another story cov­er­ing the list, a reader re­sponded, “What ex­actly has Swift done for the world any­way?”

Swift an­swered that ques­tion with force last week when she penned an open let­ter to Ap­ple, crit­i­ciz­ing the tech be­he­moth for its new mu­sic ser­vice, which was go­ing to of­fer a free trial pe­riod to con­sumers dur­ing which mu­si­cians wouldn’t get paid.

“I find it to be shock­ing, dis­ap­point­ing, and com­pletely un­like this his­tor­i­cally pro­gres­sive and gen­er­ous com­pany,” Swift wrote.

Ap­ple quickly changed course, and the In­ter­net ex­ploded in ap­plause.

Mu­si­cians thanked her. Peo­ple on Twit­ter asked her to use her ap­par­ently magic pow­ers to fix the cri­sis in Greece and pass gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion. And busi­ness colum­nists her­alded her lead­er­ship prow­ess, with head­lines call­ing her an ex­am­ple of “open lead­er­ship” and “A C-suite role model.”

Swift’s abil­ity to get the mas­sive tech gi­ant to switch gears wasn’t the first time the pop star has been rec­og­nized for her inf lu­ence, of course. For­tune has cited her brand savvy, her ap­pli­ca­tion to trade­mark some of her phrases, and her move to pull all her mu­sic from Spo­tify over how the stream­ing ser­vice pays mu­si­cians.

Time mag­a­zine, which named her as a fi­nal­ist as its Per­son of the Year, has also high­lighted her power in the in­dus­try.

In a cover story, it ex­am­ined Swift’s thoughts about the lack of fe­male role mod­els in mu­sic and her abil­ity to make the in­dus­try be­lieve big al­bums can mat­ter again.

Last sum­mer, Swift her­self wrote an in­sight­ful and op­ti­mistic op-ed in the Wall Street Jour­nal (un­der the la­bel “Jour­nal Re­ports: Lead­er­ship”) where she shared her hopes for other artists not un­der­valu­ing their work, her ap­proach to her re­la­tion­ships with fans and her pre­dic­tions on the fu­ture of mu­sic.

“Another theme I see fad­ing into the gray is genre dis­tinc­tion,” wrote the for­mer Nashville star turned pop artist. “I think that in the com­ing decades the idea of gen­res will be­come less of a ca­reer-defin­ing path and more of an or­ga­ni­za­tional tool.”

Not only does she have more than 59 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers and a re­ported net worth of $200 mil­lion, she was also the na­tion’s best­selling artist in 2008 and 2010 and the sec­ond best in 2012.

Her latest al­bum, “1989,” sold 3.66 mil­lion copies last year to be­come the best­selling al­bum (even beat­ing out the “Frozen” sound­track). The first week of its re­lease, it sold more than 1.2 mil­lion copies, bet­ter than any since 2002.

But for all that power, in­sight and in­flu­ence — and for all those record sales — what truly makes Swift a leader in the in­dus­try is her in­ter­est in us­ing her po­si­tion to speak out on be­half of other artists.

She did so with fullthroated force in her let­ter to Ap­ple, when she wrote that “this is not about me. Thank­fully I am on my fifth al­bum and can sup­port my­self, my band, crew, and en­tire man­age­ment team by play­ing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just re­leased their first sin­gle and will not be paid for its suc­cess.

“This is about the young song­writer who just got his or her first cut and thought that the roy­al­ties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the pro­ducer who works tire­lessly to in­no­vate and cre­ate, just like the in­no­va­tors and cre­ators at Ap­ple are pi­o­neer­ing in their field … but will not get paid for a quar­ter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”

She went on: “These are not the com­plaints of a spoiled, petu­lant child. These are the echoed sen­ti­ments of ev­ery artist, writer and pro­ducer in my so­cial cir­cles who are afraid to speak up pub­licly be­cause we ad­mire and re­spect Ap­ple so much.”

So yes, Tay­lor Swift is a leader. She may not be per­fect: Af­ter the Ap­ple story broke, a pho­tog­ra­pher crit­i­cized the de­mands her man­age­ment com­pany has made about photo rights. And whether her lead­er­ship should rank above that of coun­try pres­i­dents or global CEOs is a wor­thy ques­tion.

But, more and more, she’s been prov­ing why she mer­its many of the lead­er­ship ac­co­lades she’s re­ceived.

Shirlaine For­rest Getty Im­ages

TAY­LOR SWIFT was the na­tion’s best­selling artist in 2008 and ’10 and the sec­ond best in ’12.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.