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Taylor Swift: The Making of a Legend

When does the music industry acknowledge the legendary status of a musician? When they have multiple platinum records? When they have won countless awards for their music? Taylor Swift has achieved all of these incredible feats, but what makes her stand out from the rest? In the music industry songs being put out can be carbon copies of one another. There is a gaping difference between putting out music because of the copious amounts of fame that follow and putting out music because it is something the artist is putting their heart and soul into. Arguably, listeners can tell the difference. To make a hit pop song, there are three main ingredients: a song, good rhythm, a catchy melody, and good singing along capability. Taylor Swift has mastered the art of the pop formula, but what sets her apart is her versatility and her originality. She has been able to be successful in multiple genres in the music industry, these categories include country and pop. 

To truly understand the creative genius of an artist it is important to go back to their roots. Taylor Allison Swift was born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her grandmother Marjorie Finlay was a professional opera singer and at the age of ten, Taylor decided to follow in her footsteps. Swift started performing at local events, these events included fairs and contests. Swift sang “The Star-Spangled Banner’’ at a Philadelphia 76er’s game at the age of 11. A year later, she began to write her original songs and learn how to play guitar. 

Her parents identified her talent and her potential at a young age, so they did everything they could to support Swift. She often visited Nashville, Tennessee where she co-wrote songs and tried to land a recording contract. Her family moved nearby to Hendersonville, Tennessee to support Swift’s career. 

Turns out that was just the beginning. Soon after, a performance at a local cafe got her a contract with Scott Borchetta from Big Machine Records. She released her first single, “Tim Mcgraw” which became one of the top ten hits on the country charts. As well as her first hit, “Our Song” also became a No.1 country music hit. Two years later Swift was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. When Swift released Fearless around the same time as her Grammy win, the album hit the top of both pop and country charts. Fearless stayed on the top of the charts for eleven weeks. 

That is when she started to become a well-known name in the music industry. Her concert tickets started to sell out in less than two minutes. She made guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and The Late Late Show With James Corden. Additionally, at the age of 20, she was the youngest artist to win a Grammy under the Album of the Year category. She won the Grammy for her album Fearless in 2010. 

In the year 2010, she released Speak Now which featured the hit songs “Mean”, “Ours”, and “Sparks Fly.” This album sold more than one million copies in the first week and ended up on Billboard’s Top 100 charts. She followed with Red (2012), which featured the hit single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and also topped 1 million in its first week of sales. 

On October 27, 2014, Swift released her album 1989 the hit pop record featured songs “Shake It Off ”, “Blank Space”, and “Style”. This album rewarded her with the 2016 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. After she released 1989 she went on to release Reputation (2017) and Lover (2019). 

There was an underlying meaning for the album Reputation; it was an ode to how Swift perceived her reputation to be the lowest at the time of her album release. Her reputation being the lowest due to her highly publicized feuds with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, and Calvin Harris. 

Taylor’s view of herself was deeply damaged by the trending social media hashtag #TaylorSwiftisOverParty and snake emoji circling through her social media. There are some other key themes throughout the album. One of those themes being her current boyfriend Joe Alwyn and his big blue eyes. Swift mentions him in “Gorgeous” and “Delicate”. Another of those themes is the way people only see her through different stereotypes. Everyone only saw what the media and tabloids were portraying. These different themes lead to the creation of the hit album Reputation. 

Following the release of Reputation and Lover, one of the biggest turning points in Swift’s career was publicized on Social Media. On June 30, 2019, Scooter Braun from Ithaca Holdings obtained Scott Borschetta’s Big Machine Label Group. Scooter Braun is a talent manager for big celebs such as Arianna Grande, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Hillary Duff, Kanye West, and many more big names. Scooter Braun acquired Big Machine Label Group for 300 million dollars. Discussed in this deal was the thirteen-year deal Swift signed with Big Machine Label Group, where 6 albums were produced. Back when the contract was produced Swift signed a deal granting Big Machine Records ownership to her masters. In exchange for her masters, she was given a cash advance to kick start her career. Those six albums’ worth was calculated at 140 million dollars. 

After that contract ended, Swift signed a new deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. With her new contract, Swift negotiated the ownership of all future masters, the issue lies in the fact that Big Machine retains ownership of her first six album masters. To understand the information being given it is important to understand what masters are. According to PopSugar, “Put simply, controlling the master rights essentially means you have control over what is done with the song or album, full stop. When record labels are valued and sold, their ownership of masters comes into play.” 

The drama started when Taylor Swift made comments about the situation to her official Tumblr stating how “sad and grossed out” she was about the deal Borchetta made with Braun. Borchetta being the previous owner of Big Machine Label Group. She also comments that “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead, I was given an opportunity to ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in,” Swift also released another claim that Borchetta has known about her distaste for Braun for years, saying that the man who gave her her first record deal “knew what he was doing.” Other artists gave statements on Swift’s side and Braun’s side. The people who gave comments were none other than Scott Borschetta and Scooter Braun’s wife. Justin Beiber also gave a statement in support of Braun stating, “I usually don’t rebuttal things like this, but when you try to deface someone I love’ character that’s [sic] crossing a line,” Bieber wrote. He also added that Braun had nothing to do with the post she took issue with and claims that Braun has always had her back. Swift is now re-recording her first six albums to reclaim ownership of her masters. 

The thing about fame is it changes people’s lives for the better and the worst. For Taylor Swift in particular it did so much good and equally so much bad. She gained admiration from fans, admiration from the musicians she grew up listening to, and the achievement that she was able to accomplish her dreams and goals. But like I said there is equally as much good as it is bad in the music industry. 

She developed an eating disorder from the over-scrutinization of the tabloids and the press and with her massive social media presence, she would get in feuds online. The Tabloids diminished her and broke her down for having multiple boyfriends while being in the industry. 

Later in her career, she was able to talk about the blatant sexism she experienced in regards to men not taking her seriously as a 16-year-old female artist growing up and becoming more successful. Stating, “It’s fine to infantilize a girl’s success and say, ‘How cute that she’s having some hit songs,” Swift said. “But the second it becomes formidable? As soon as I started playing stadiums — when I started to look like a woman — that wasn’t as cool anymore.” 

Swift also commented on the double standards for men and women when writing songs about love and the sexist way her songs are portrayed. Commenting, “Find me a time when they say that about a male artist: Be careful, girl, he’ll use his experience with you to get —God forbid — inspiration to make art.” 

She still deals with the issues that proceed a successful woman in the music industry, but she has become more and more attuned to her happiness. Currently, she has released Folklore and Evermore which also contributed to her versatility as an artist because these two albums go back to her roots and show similarities to the music she was putting out at the beginning of her career. Throughout her successful career, she has won eleven Grammys, four of those being awards for Album of the Year. These successes have thoroughly claimed her as a legendary musician in the music industry. 

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