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 Biography.com.
The rest is history.
Okay, so how does she stack up regarding the music industry’s three primary income streams of songwriting/publishing, live performance and recording?
The Songwriting/Publishing Stream
On Taylor’s first three albums she wrote or co-wrote every song. She continues to write most of her material. 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 through both writing and publishing royalties. It’s the ultimate scenario for any artist.
The Live Performance Stream
Taylor’s shows bring down the house. On the list of the All-Time Highest Grossing Concert Tours (as of December 2018), she holds the #29 spot for the “1989 Tour” at over $250 million gross and the #12 spot for the “Reputation Stadium Tour” at over $345 million gross (WorkandMoney.com). According to Billboard Magazine she was the #1 Country Music touring act in 2011, well-ahead of veteran Kenny Chesney, and she was #5 overall (Billboard Top 25 Tours of 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 has 6 albums certified multi-platinum with sales of over 46 million units in the U.S. and 87 million world-wide. “Fearless” has been certified 10 times platinum and “1989” is 9 times platinum (RIAA data). Her singles sales is at 153 million world-wide. Wow!…Just Wow!
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 394 awards including 32 Grammy Awards. Of those nominations she has taken home 310 awards, including 10 Grammys. (Taylor’s Awards) Taylor is truly an amazing indie artist worthy of the attention of anyone who studies the music industry.
Maybe in a future post we’ll talk about her endorsement deals, merchandise, etc., etc.
*The photos in the slideshow were taken by my talented wife Sharon Smith.