Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s right for you
The decision to pull her entire catalogue of music from Spotify at the end of 2014 was met with a fair amount of backlash including from Spotify itself who, rather embarrassingly, took to begging the star in the form of carefully curated playlists to rethink her position.
But the decision did not come completely out of left field. Earlier in the year, Taylor penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal asserting that she believes: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
In Taylor’s opinion, Spotify’s remuneration package for artists does not align with her way of thinking and just because other artists believe that it’s fair, doesn’t mean that she should. The fact that Taylor’s music is no longer on Spotify hasn’t affected album sales, to the contrary 1989 was the biggest-selling album of the year in the US.
The lesson? Trust your consumers and your instincts; if your decision is authentic to your brand then it will not put people off.
Use social media and diversify
Swift has mastered the art of social media so well that Vulture dubbed her the “Queen of Celebrity Social Media”. A master reactor, engager and networker, Taylor regularly interacts with fans and friends that ensures she maintains her position at the top – making her the fourth most-followed person on twitter behind Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and President Obama.
She regularly reaches out giving heartfelt advice to broken-hearted fans on Tumblr and Instagram and has told of how her friendship with Lena Dunham was born after one sent the other a message on Twitter.
She used Instagram to tease information about her fifth album 1989, as well as the extensive celebrity cast list for the recent Bad Blood video. Your brand needs to have a voice and an identity across a number of different platforms.
Identify key brand ambassadors
Swift has become known for her ever expanding network of celebrity friends – everyone from Ellie Goulding to Sarah Hyland, Ed Sheeran to Lily Aldridge. She has friends in every sector of the entertainment industry, bridging the gap between music, film, fashion and more.
Beyond the parties and hangouts though, her friends are ambassadors to her brand, tweeting her song lyrics, appearing in her music videos and singing her praises in interviews.
Finding the right ambassador is important for every brand. You need someone who you can trust to speak on your behalf as well as shares your values.
Collaboration is key
Swift started her career as a country music artist. She wrote the majority of the songs on her first three album with minimal participation from other artists.
When she began her transition to the pop world she began working with pop heavy-weights Max Martin and Shellback who helped her turn country tunes into bonafide pop hits.
She also used a number of brand partnerships to promote her new album, 1989. Unreleased tracks were played over commercials for Diet Coke and Target in the lead up to the album’s release.
But it was her appointment as Global Ambassador for the New York Tourism board that helped Swift complete her journey. After all is there a better way to say goodbye to country music and its home, Nashville, than by becoming the Global Ambassador to a different city?
Renovate the house, but keep the foundations
In a recent interview with Tavi Gevinson for ELLE magazine Taylor talked about not having any regrets. She said that it would be wrong to destroy the house that she has built with her own hands – that you can redecorate, but the foundations have to stay the same.
Which is true for any brand. Of course it’s important to innovate and transform, but ultimately goals and beliefs have to stay the same, otherwise it appears false.
Consumers need authenticity; lose that and you’ve lost everything.
Reward your best customers
Moving genres is a risky move for any artist. You need to ensure that the fan base you’ve spent years cultivating will continue to follow you.
Taylor managed to do this seamlessly by rewarding those who’ve been there since the beginning. She scoured social media channels such as Tumblr, a practice that’s now affectionately known as ‘Taylurking’, in order to identify the most passionate and influential fans.
She then invited them to her house to give them a sneak preview of her upcoming album. She baked cookies, took selfies and allowed them to play with her cats.
She sold herself in this new genre by showing her existing fans that nothing had changed – she was still the same girl they’ve loved from the start. They were then able to go back to the other Swifties and reassure everyone that change is good.
Brands need to remember that while expanding your audience reach is key, you need to be careful not to alienate the consumers who have been there from the start.
Sarah Mawson is celebrity editor of Marketing Week’s sister title Celebrity Intelligence.com.