Authors: Megan, Brianna
Welcome to our first-ever Women’s Month Series! Throughout the month of March, we will be highlighting different women in pop culture — fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — who we think exemplify accurate and honest portrayals of women in the mainstream media and use their voices to empower and uplift.
For more than a decade, Taylor Swift has been a household name around the world. She took the country music scene by storm as a 16-year-old up-and-coming artist, bright eyed and ready to showcase her incredible talent. She quickly amassed a following of fans as her storytelling lyrics hit home and her music was played on every radio station. Whether a fan from the beginning or simply aware of her, there’s nary a soul who isn’t aware of Swift and her astounding musical accomplishments throughout her career.
However, we are highlighting Swift’s accomplishments beyond music, the way she cares for her fans and fellow artists. The way she advocates for the rights and equality of everyone, and even stands up to people to make something happen. Swift may be a record-breaking, Grammy-winning artist, but she is much more than her incredible lyrical and musical talents.
As a young artist, Swift stood out as more than the average celebrity. She wanted to connect with her fans, making sure they felt her love and thanks for their support. Ever the genius, Swift took this a step further by planting messages, later called easter eggs, in her CD booklets for fans to uncover. Her career took off, but Swift never lost her ability to connect with fans and still gives plenty of easter eggs in music videos, clothing choices, social media posts, and more for fans to theorizes over. She’s also remained down-to-earth and still takes the time to listen to her fans be it at meet and greets or secret sessions.
Swift is known for caring for her fans. Her meet and greets at concerts are not your typical meet and greets. These are free, yes, free. Before her concerts, people from her team go around and give out passes to random fans so that they can meet her following the concert. There is also Swiftmas, where the singer gives out presents to her fans. She stalks them on social media (though it’s not as creepy as it may sound) and finds out where they live so she can send them some gifts and a personalized note. Surprisingly, that’s not all she’s been doing. She also hosts secret sessions at her houses to celebrate the release of an upcoming album with fans. On top of that, Swift has donated thousands of money to charities and her fans, paying for tuition or even a house. It just shows how genuine and generous she really is and how much her Swifties really mean to her.
Around the time that Swift released Lover, it was revealed that she did not nor would she ever own her older discography. It was owned by Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun, who manages artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato. After a lengthy battle, Swift revealed on Good Morning America that she will be re-recording her entire discography up until reputation, allowing her to finally own her music.
In any other capacity, rereleasing already well-known music wouldn’t result in any major responses from fans. However, Swift has managed to reinvent the concept of revisiting old music. She’s not only given her fans the same music they adored, but each re-record has included, and will likely continue to include, brand new songs written during each albums era. She released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) last year each with what Swift calls From the Vault tracks. The albums might be the music fans already love, but they also include nearly a full album’s worth of brand new (to fans) music in high def. Her easter eggs regarding their release order have also allowed the rereleases to take on a life of their own, spawning theories and good natured arguments over what’s coming next! Very few artists could manage to simply rerecord their old music and shatter world records, win awards, and thoroughly drive home the morals they stand for. With Swift, it’s that artists should own their own music.
Prior to the rerecording announcement, in the midst of the pandemic, Swift was also hard at work writing her first indie folk album, folklore, which she surprise dropped with no notice. This album also dominated the charts and took Swift into her third genre, bridging from country, pop, and now indie. Her ability to write clever, thought provoking lyrics that tell a story allow her fans to connect with it no matter the genre.
We can’t highlight Swift’s major accomplishments without dipping into her fairly recent decision to step into current affairs like politics and human rights. An outspoken advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and more, Swift now speaks in both her music and in interviews about her stance on these topics and fans adore her for it. The 2020 documentary Miss Americana, released on Netflix, shined a new light on Swift’s life. While she’s a fairly private celebrity, the eye-opening documentary gives a raw and intimate look inside her world and at her own perceptions of her past. Swift invited everyone, fans and haters alike, to join her on an emotional journey where she speaks about her sexual assault case, the reasons she’s so passionate about artists’ rights to their music, and why she’d been silent in regards to activism.
Not only does she bare her soul to the world in Miss Americana, she provides a real look at just how much labels control their artists in every capacity and how artists are pressured by everyone around them to publicly appear in a specific way. Don’t rock the boat, look pretty and smile, just take the sexist joke. Swift wholeheartedly said she’d had enough and her activism and opinions have felt just as important as her music ever since.
Swift has also advocated for the rights for artists to own their music and get paid for it, as it’s something that’s very important to her. In 2014, she pulled her music library from Spotify after it was revealed that artists get little revenue from streams, as most of it goes to the record labels. After Swift signed to Universal Music Group in 2018, as part of the contract, she would only sign if any of UMG’s Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists. UMG agreed and Swift was more than excited to move forward and look towards positive change, as she posted on Instagram.
Taylor Swift is definitely more than her musical accomplishments, and she has accomplished a lot over the years. Yet she still stays grounded and shows immense generosity towards others. She’s changed lives, stood up for change, and so much more. Swift was Billboard’s Woman of the Decade, and it’s not hard to see why.
Stay tuned to Nerds and Beyond for more Women’s History Month installments!