Dear Taylor: Why Taylor Swift’s UK ‘Strategy’ Is A Terrible Idea
For the majority of this week, Taylor Swift fans have been waiting for a track leak. Before we state how genius of a marketing ploy it is to leak a track to fans who pre-order the album, let’s remember the same was done with Red back in 2012.
This time, however, we’re paying more attention. Taylor never restricts her fans in terms of new material, and she displays a smart juxtaposition of sharp business skills and fan loyalty.
The term industry insiders use for a deliberate gift to fans who pre-order is known as “instant grat,” and it’s becoming more popular.
Yesterday, the fans awaited their prize. I saw throughout my Twitter timeline that some fans set their alarms for 5 am so they could download the track as soon as it was released.
I then saw them tweeting frantically throughout the day as they scoured for other means to listen to it.
This was because the UK was the only country that didn’t have access to it.
Last night, Taylor admitted on her Tumblr page that the restriction to the UK market for “Out of The Woods” was a deliberate move, as part of an elaborate strategy by her label.
Here’s my issue: It always seems like the UK gets left behind. It’s definitely a common and strategic move for artists to release their singles on YouTube and radio approximately two months before releasing on iTunes.
The industry believes that this allows both fans and new listeners to get used to the song, which then creates a buzz — a buzz that gets us talking, tweeting and writing. The buzz generates content, like the kind I’m producing for you now.
Whatever strategy this is, to me, it makes little to no sense. Taylor just ended a publicity tour in the UK and she appeared on “The X Factor” a day before the leak. Doesn’t the phrase “strike while the iron is hot” make sense to her label?
The problem is, “Out of The Woods” is not a single. There’s no need to build it up to get it to number one, yet it reached that coveted status in 67 countries within 24 hours — the UK not being one of them.
This was not helped by iTunes UK having marketed 1989‘s pre-order with a tagline of “Pre Order and Get Song.” Shame on you, iTunes; you’re a cruel beast.
Some fans have been left feeling uneasy, as most of the world was gifted for its loyalty while the rest wonder why they spent the same money but were stripped of the same benefits.
For Swift loyalists who are waiting for the official leak (raise your hand if you’re with me), it’s not so difficult to find alternate routes to download the song.
So, an open question to Taylor’s label: Who exactly does this benefit? If we cancel pre-orders within the UK and download illegally, does this aid her UK reputation? Does this hinder the fight against music piracy?
I doubt they care because in the grand scheme of it all, Taylor will be bringing in the big dollar signs no matter what. In the long term, does a tiny fraction of Taylor’s fans hold any leverage over the rest of her following? Unlikely.
The fans’ disappointment will go unnoticed by her label; yet Taylor, herself, seems adamant that this will serve the fans. If anything, this will be seen as the Brits throwing their toys out of the pram for being left out.
Taylor claimed she will be “watching closely” to see if this ultimately serves the best interests of the fans. The way I see it, these little strategies do nothing but form a gray cloud of hostility and unrest toward the domineering force of the music industry.
Taylor, we’re not mad at you; we’re mad that your label has created and steered a negative slap of criticism toward you just before your album released.
We’re irritated that you worked so hard to break into the UK, only to have withheld something from your British fans.
We don’t want to see 13-year-old fans waking up to a download they can’t have, with little understanding of how the industry operates.
We don’t want to feel left out as the rest of the world gets to swoon over your new material and natural-sound transition into pop music.
I don’t want to see the blame falling on you; yet, it probably will.
I don’t want your UK loyalists, the ones that have been there since the beginning, to once again be placed on the backburner.
In the past, we understood why we had to stay in the distance. Your influence here was not the same as it is today. Your star power was not so bright, and while it shone elsewhere, the UK never noticed it burn through the sky. Until Red that is, then we let your light in.
For the long-term fans, we were happy to wait, and we were proud. We waited for the rest of the world to realize you were going to be legendary.
We waited for everyone to see that you don’t just sing silly love songs about boys who break nothing but young hearts and that you create art that exists in its own realm.
But, what have we waited for? To be, as some believe, forgotten about by the label puppeteers who get to decide which fan gets what and when they get it?
Dear Taylor, I love you, but I don’t love your label. Thank you for getting us all out of the woods and for leaving us a trail to follow just when we were too lost to find our way out. On behalf of all of us, can we please get a new song?
Photo Credit: WENN