Taylor Swift is an Indie artist? Surprise! In fact, she is arguably one of the most successful Indie artists of all time. In the few short years of Taylor’s career she has taken the music industry by storm. So how did it all start?
As a young teenager, Taylor signed a developmental deal with RCA records. Her ambition was moving faster than RCA’s old-school developmental plan. When the contract expired, she decided against renewing that deal in lieu of seeking greener pastures. Wow! She turned down RCA! Unsure of her next move, Swift began playing in various venues around Nashville.
“While performing at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Swift caught the eye of music industry veteran Scott Borchetta, who signed her to his newly formed label,” according to the Taylor Swift bio at cmt.com.
The rest is history.
Okay, so how does she stack up regarding the music industry’s three income streams, songwriting/publishing, live performance and recording?
The Songwriting/Publishing Stream
On Taylor’s first three albums she wrote or co-wrote every song. She owns her own publishing company, Taylor Swift Music (BMI). Her performing rights organization affiliation as a writer is BMI where she has won numerous awards. With revenue through publishing and songwriting, she is taking full advantage of the earning power of her songs.
The Live Performance Stream
Taylor’s shows bring down the house. According to Billboard Magazine she was the #2 touring act in 2011 behind Kenny Chesney. (Billboard Hot Tours-September 2011) Her Fearless tour achieved some unbelievable feats. When tickets went on sale in February of 2009 she sold out The Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2 minutes, Madison Square Garden in 1 minute, and the Fresno Save Mart Center in less than 10 minutes. (Fearless Tour info)
“I’ve been to many concerts and the sets and theatrics of Taylor’s ‘Fearless’ tour far surpassed any other artist I’ve seen. She’s the best,” said concert goer, Nicole Smith.
Taylor Swift has figured out what the fans want to see and her live shows give them what they want. When an artist’s tour is a top grossing show, the artist is fully tapping into the Live Performance stream.
The Recording Stream
For Taylor Swift, recording is the force that drives the other two streams. Taylor’s first album Taylor Swift was certified 5 times platinum. Her second album, Fearless was certified 6 times platinum. The Speak Now album was certified 3 times platinum and continues to climb. (RIAA data) Those kind of numbers speak volumes.
It All Adds Up to $$$
As a songwriter, recording artist, and top touring performer, Taylor Swift is pulling huge revenues from all three of the primary income streams. In her short career she has been nominated for over 170 awards including 12 Grammy Awards. Of those nominations she has taken home 116 awards, 6 of which were Grammys. (Taylor’s Awards) Taylor is truly an amazing indie artist worthy of the attention of anyone who studies the music industry.
Maybe next week we’ll talk about her endorsement deals.
*The photos in the slideshow were taken by my talented wife Sharon Smith.