Taylor Swift’s Indelible Influence on the Music Industry

Alison Montemagni, Staff Reporter

Taylor Swift is no stranger to the music industry, and although she is a huge artist, people still discredit her talent and work. She released her first album, Taylor Swift, back in October 2006. Since then she has released 9 studio albums, 2 re-recorded albums, and 2 extended plays, as well as many singles and movie soundtracks. Swift is the most awarded artist at the American Music Awards, and her reputation Stadium Tour was the largest grossing tour in U.S. history. She has won the most ¨Album of the Years¨ at the Grammy’s, and also won ¨Artist of the Decade.¨

Most haters would argue Kanye gave her fame, however, I would strongly disagree. In September 2009, Kanye West interrupted Taylor’s MTV Video Music Award speech. She was accepting an award when he ran up on stage, stole her mic, and told the world that she didn’t deserve it. This is obviously childish behavior but even more so being that Kayne was 32 at the time while Taylor was 19. As Taylor would say, “haters are gonna hate,” and they did. Kanye fans love to bring up the fact that he made her famous which makes no sense whatsoever as she won and was accepting an award. How would someone who wasn’t famous be winning Video of the Year?

Along with Taylor writing all of her own songs, she is also able to create ¨eras¨ from each of her albums. These eras have a special haircut and clothing style to go along with the album. For Red, she had straight hair with bangs and wore lots of 50s themed clothes. For the following album, 1989, she cut her hair to a short bob, and wore lots of glitter and pastels. For reputation, she was able to use snakes to symbolize what the media and haters had been calling her over the previous few years due to the incidents with Kanye. Swift is no stranger from switching over from country to pop to rap to electronic to alternative to folk. She has dipped her songs into every genre. Each album is like diving into a new universe of lyrics. Fearlesss is about being a teenager, Red is about a heart wrenching breakup, 1989 is about moving to a new city, and Lover is about finding love in herself and others. While most of her albums are about herself and her personal experience, folklore and evermore are written about fictional stories. In folklore, she explores the love triangle of fictional characters Betty, Augustine, and James, who happen to be named after Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ children. 

In addition to earning her way up in the music industry, she has had a huge impact on it. A new and upcoming artist, Olivia Rodrigo, took inspiration from her on her award-winning album ¨SOUR.¨ In one song, ¨1 step forward, 3 steps back¨, Olivia sampled Taylor´s song ¨New Year’s Day,¨ making the background music the exact same with different lyrics. On Olivia´s popular track ¨deja vu,¨ Olivia took inspiration from Taylor´s yelling vocals in her song ¨Cruel Summer.¨ Besides Olivia, multiple other huge artists have credited Taylor´s songwriting talent for their inspiration such as Conan Gray, Phoebe Bridgers, Maisie Peters, Gracie Abrams, Troye Sivan, and Clario. As Conan Gray said ¨Swift raised an entire generation of songwriters¨ with her passion for songwriting. 

Taylor is known for advocating for the rights of artists to own their own work. In 2018, Taylor´s music was sold and she lost control of her masters. Taylor did attempt to buy her masters but it was denied before being sold to Scooter Braun. Losing your masters means you have no control over the music, which is very significant to her because she wrote all of her songs with experiences from her own personal life. Along with losing control, she was no longer allowed to perform her music. That means she couldn’t sing any of her songs at performances or concerts. At the time, she had lost six albums, but since then she left Big Machine Records, and she signed with Universal Music Group which would allow her to own her music.

Since joining the new record label, she has made three new studio albums, and 2 re-recorded albums. Over the course of the next few years, Taylor is going to be re-recording her old work so she can own it. You can know if she owns her old albums by ¨(Taylor´s Version)¨ being behind the album title and song title. These new re-recorded albums not only give her control, have better vocals, and ¨vault¨ unreleased songs on them, but we also get new music videos, and she is actually allowed to play her own music because she isn’t playing ¨Love Story,¨ she’s playing ¨Love Story (Taylor´s Version).¨ She is constantly advocating for artists’ rights such as in 2014 she pulled her entire music catalog off of Spotify in protest for artists to be paid higher for their work. Some would argue she did this for herself, but she was doing it for the upcoming artists who could easily be taken advantage of.

In conclusion, Taylor has definitely had her good and bad times in the music world. All in all, I think there is no doubt that she has had a huge influence on upcoming artists and the music industry itself. She’s shown that you don’t need to stick to a specific genre that you discovered when you were sixteen, and that you should be able to own your own work – that you created – not some random man. I think anyone who says she’s irrelevant or doesn’t deserve her spot needs to understand the greatness of Taylor Swift and her legacy.