Business lessons from Taylor Swift

It is almost certain that you or somebody in your family or a close friend of yours have experienced queuing for tickets to catch pop icon Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” one way or another. Whether it is going to her show in nearby Singapore, Japan or Australia or opting to stream her concert on your platform, many Filipinos are considered loyal Swifties, making this a highly engaged community that goes beyond age, generation and gender.

 

This unprecedented happening is certainly not limited to Asia, but can be seen and felt globally, given that “The Eras Tour” is going to run for close to two years which will span five continents that will conclude by December of this year. From here, we can analyze her recipe for success and be able to take away concrete business lessons moving forward.

Contextually, Taylor Swift has transcended the realms of pop culture and music, emerging not only as a global sensation but also as a business phenomenon. Starting as a country singer before going pop, Swift’s strategic approach to her career has turned her into a captivating case study in universities worldwide, delving into the intricacies of the music industry and beyond.

 

Various Taylor Swift-related courses are available in many universities such as Harvard (offering “Taylor Swift and Her World” course under the Department of English), New York University (offering “Taylor Swift” under the Clive Davis Institute) and University of Houston (offering ‘”The Entrepreneurial Genius of Taylor Swift” under the C.T. Bauer College of Business), among others.

Here in Asia Pacific, University of Melbourne has held an academic conference dubbed “Swiftposium,” which delved into the singer’s influence on mental health and gender. Of course, no less than our state-owned University of the Philippines has announced that it is also offering a Taylor Swift course as an elective under their BA Broadcast Media Arts and Studies. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned.

 

Some of the key business lessons that we can take away from the phenomenon of Taylor Swift are highlighted below.

 

(The need for) Adaptability

Her career is a very good use case on adaptability. It has been known that one of the most significant challenges in Swift’s career was the issue with her first producer that resulted in the loss of her music rights. This setback prompted her to reevaluate her strategy, leading to the decision to rerecord her previous albums, a move that has been extremely well-received by her audience.

Swift’s proactive approach to regain control over her master recordings serves as a case study not only in strategic decision-making and artist empowerment but certainly along the lines of adaptability as well. Swift’s genre-spanning success has become a benchmark for adaptability in the business world. Moreover, her transitions — emphasizing the role that adaptability plays not just as an artist but as a business leader in general — signifies the importance of staying relevant and agile in dynamic markets.

Conversely, it also examines this case as a lesson in understanding contractual agreements, intellectual property rights and the potential challenges artists may face in the music industry. Given the evolving landscape of the music industry, it is important that artists take note of the importance of intellectual property rights for creatives and the role of negotiation in contracts.

Swift’s determination to assert control over her narrative and artistic legacy provides valuable insights for artists, entrepreneurs and business professionals navigating ownership and control in their respective fields.

 

(Invest in) Marketing

At the heart of Swift’s business success lies her mastery of branding and marketing. She is fully in control not just in creating her music but in delivering the same to her audience, live or otherwise. Her in-house production company does the entire concept production and execution, a move that has once again captivated her audience, so much so that many of the Swifties exert effort in aligning their concert outfit to that of Swift’s down to the crystal embellishments and thematic colors of the tour.

She has also been successful in creating subproducts in the process: “The Eras Tour” inevitably gave birth to a series of other products such as her concert that can be accessed via streaming, a film that can be enjoyed in the cinemas and, of course, lots and lots of merchandise.

As if this experience is not enough, Taylor Swift complements all products she has created with a personal touch: she has navigated social media platforms perfectly to engage directly with fans as a living proof that personal branding still reigns supreme. After all, Swift’s authenticity shines through in both her music and her public persona, creating a genuine connection with her audience.

She is not just a global pop icon, but she is an accessible global pop icon which absolutely works from a business standpoint. Her recent Melbourne show that has filled the stadium of almost 100,000 made her so overwhelmed that made for a sweet and emotional video capture, much to the enjoyment of her audience. The reaction of her fans? Nothing else but “you deserve this and much more,” a clear testament that customer delight in relation to customer experience is present and smartly sustained within the Taylor Swift universe.

 

(Establish an engaged) Community

The Swifties is more than just a group of music enthusiasts; it is a dedicated community. Swift’s down-to-earth approach and relatability have turned her fans into a close-knit family. The way she engages with them, both virtually and through surprise visits, exemplifies the friend-next-door strategy.

Effectively, Taylor Swift has been so successful in humanizing her brand, so much so that it becomes a template on how businesses can do the same to create a sense of community and foster customer loyalty through accessible and relatable communication. Within this community, Taylor Swift’s personal touch extends beyond music: from sharing moments of baking her chai sugar cookies to casual hangouts, she connects with her audience employing the friend-next-door strategy.

This approach has become a case study on how to build a personal brand and illustrates how businesses can use relatability to forge genuine connections. Swift’s emphasis on accessibility serves as a lesson in creating a sense of camaraderie around a brand that fosters lasting relationships with customers.

 

Authenticity

Swift’s authenticity is a cornerstone of her success. She does not just present an image; she allows her audience glimpses into her life, making her relatable on a personal level. Through her songs, people have been able to continuously relate with Taylor Swift, given the fact that most of the songs she has written are based on her personal experiences. Swift’s commitment to staying true to herself serves as an inspirational lesson for businesses aiming to build a strong and authentic brand.

 

Taylor Swift’s journey from a young country artist to a global icon is not just a musical evolution but a business case study. Her adaptability, mastery of branding, emphasis on authenticity and proactive approach to challenges have left an indelible mark on the business world.

Swift’s ability to connect with her audience and her strategic response to music rights issues make her an influential figure not only in the entertainment industry but also in business classrooms worldwide. Aspiring musicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders alike find inspiration in Swift’s multifaceted success story.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at kay.lugtu@hungryworkhorse.com.

Source: https://www.manilatimes.net/2024/02/22/business/top-business/business-lessons-from-taylor-swift/1933558