Taylor Swift performing at the 2019 AMAs / Kevin Winter
It’s official — Taylor Swift is the Artist of the Decade! After her recent wins at the American Music Awards, Swift holds an impressive 29 total AMAs, which makes her the most lauded artist since Michael Jackson.
Despite her shining performance of “The Man,” a feminist masterpiece that dissects the double standards women are held to, Swift had had it pretty rough a couple weeks prior to the AMAs.
On November 14, Swift penned an emotional open letter to her fans which revealed that her music was essentially being held hostage.
In it she explained that her old record label, Big Machine, was bought by Scooter Braun with whom Swift has many personal grievances. She also called out the previous owner, Scott Borchetta, for agreeing to sell the record label to a man who he knew was causing Swift such torment.
What jumped out at me from the articles that spawned was the gender bias towards Swift’s act of speaking out. Her open letter earned her monikers like “Whiner of the Century,” and “Victim of the Decade.” Many articles suggested her career would not be where it is today without her many feuds, attention-seeking and “airing her dirty laundry” in song form. Which is unfair because all Swift’s male counterparts (see Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars) do is sing about their relationships — failed and current.
If people could get past the fact that a woman is being vocal about something that pissed her off, they might see that Swift is bringing some interesting points to the discussion around artist’s rights in the music and entertainment industry.
As it stands, the music industry in America is built on companies investing capital into beginner artists’ production, promotion and, in some cases, tour costs. In essence these investments are loans, as more often than not every cent a music company (especially record labels) spends on an artist is fully recoupable from the artist’s eventual income. If the artist becomes successful, the label will have their investment returned, along with lots of profit — but they will always keep the masters of the songs.
That companies could recoup their investment and still end up owning the artists’ masters (which represent great personal investment and labour for the songwriters) is considered wrong by many today — and notably, in the past, Paul McCartney and Prince.
Swift’s post highlights how badly the music industry treats the very people it is so dependent on. Very little of the power — to determine distribution, timelines, promotions, content, etc. — associated with creating music actually rests with the artists.
“This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans,” Swift wrote.
Braun allegedly barred Swift from performing any of her old songs or using them in an upcoming Netflix documentary about her life (which he denied), leaving her distraught. She encouraged her fans to “please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.”
And they did. A bit too well, actually.
Not only did multiple celebrities feel obligated to choose a side in this clash of industry economics, regular Swifties showed their support via social media and not-so-regular Swifties even sent death threats to Braun and his family.
Many outlets took this turn of events to criticise Swift further, citing that she should have considered how her letter might have been misconstrued by her legions of fans.
Even though she hasn’t yet reached out, I’m sure Swift would be appalled at their actions and make it clear that we don’t solve our issues like that. She called for dialogue and transparency within the music industry, not violence.
Going forward into another decade, I want the best for Taylor artistically and personally. And I want that for Scooter, too. But Scooter doesn’t really need Taylor’s masters when he has the likes of Justin Bieber, Kanye and Demi Lovato under his wing.
Taylor, on the other hand, has got to back herself all the way.
In her latest ‘scandal’ she is doing just that.Support Villainesse