Taylor Swift, What Are You Doing?

Look what we made you do? What exactly is it that you’re doing, Taylor Swift?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: your new single isn’t good. You are an unbelievable songwriter, who can compose melodies and string together words in ways that speak to even the most cold-hearted frat bros. But this? “Look What You Made Me Do”? This is crap.

Did you sit down in a dark room and write lyrics from the heart, find a few chord progressions on your guitar to guide the track, and shape your music around your feelings? No. You wrote some bull shit lyrics down, asked some record producer to add a bunch of sound effects to a track, and spit this out to capitalize on your fame.

The new record, and everything that comes along with it, is the whole package of how you’re driving your own career into the ground. Worse, it embodies just how much you’ve changed, from business-savvy pop queen to self-absorbed media machine.

Swift, you’ve had a hell of a career, much in thanks to your astute awareness of the music industry. Music journalists have praised your strategic shift from country to mainstream pop artist, done so gracefully so as to keep both music communities proud to have you included. You’ve stayed with Big Machine Records since the beginning, another smart move to stay in control of your artistry. Your records show a steady climb away from the twang of country and towards the production of pop, and while each record certainly becomes more post-produced than the last, your songwriting still held its ground.

You may have ruffled some feathers (and annoyed fans) when you pulled your music from Spotify, but backers reluctantly agreed that it was for a worthy cause in support of compensating musicians for their work. It initiated a crucial conversation in this industry, and was taken as a sign of solidarity for many of the smaller acts that get pennies, if that, from their online streams.

But you rejoined Spotify. You realized record sales and song streams lead to cash. And as your brand shifts away from quality of music and focuses more on the financial bottom line, the name Taylor Swift is now synonymous with making money than anything.

The sheer hype around “Look What You Made Me Do” – wiping out your social media content, offering cryptic clues in the run-up to its release, using Good Morning America to tease the music video – is far too self-obsessive for my taste. You’re so confident in your own popularity that you’re willing to take advantage of fans’ willingness to hang on every tiny sign you’re about to act. But when you release a mediocre song like you just did, it makes the letdown that much harder.

Only a few hours after your mediocre song dropped, you also announced a partnership with Ticketmaster – uh, what? – theoretically as part of an effort to combat ticket scalping and jacked up resale costs. This article in Jezebel by Hazel Cills does an incredible job of explaining how fucked up this initiative is, making you look like more of a faux, out-of-touch corporation than an artist looking out for her fans.

Between the expensive products, the twisted effort to sell more merch behind a veil of helping fans get already too-expensive concert tickets, and a crap song, Taylor Swift, you disappoint me.

Haven’t you ever heard the phrase “success is the best revenge?” If you want to piss of Kimye and Katy and everyone else, do so by releasing a dope, catchy love song that everyone will blast out the windows as summer turns to fall. Release something we all want to sing along to, that tugs at our heart strings and puts emotions into words in ways we never thought possible. Show power by putting your talent out there, by doing what you do best. Stop turning yourself into a pseudo marketing engine, acting larger-than-life, relying on your own brand instead of your music.

Stop working with corporations. Start serving your fans. And stop kidding yourself. You’re making me hate the music industry.

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