I’m a big fan of commercial music. Being judged on sales is the most honest way to be evaluated by others. Being reviled by most and revered by snobs is bullshit.
Pop singers are like bait. They are painted in bright alluring colours. They shimmer and sparkle in the water, right in the path of the shoals. The shoals like what they see and fight to gobble them up. Then they are gone.
Taylor Swift wants and thinks she deserves our support because someone she doesn’t care for has bought her old record company. Let’s be clear, this does not affect her current or future income in any way. That is protected by contract. She’s just put out because, despite the fact this dude helped turn her into a star, he’s now in control of her old records and that pisses her off.
Taylor earned $180million last year. Yep that’s right.more than the entire combined salaries of every single employee of BT. Just for her.
But she wants our sympathy. She doesn’t have mine.
When you start out as a creator, you do it because you have to. It’s mostly to offset torment. Churchill described creativity as ‘a way of staving off despair’.
But then you hit a crossroads. You see an opportunity to make money at it. This isn’t a right. It’s a choice.
You can carry on without it. If you’re lucky you find a patron who will feed you and clothe you. If you’re not so lucky you will need a contract with a commercial music company.
Music companies are not patrons. They are not benefactors. They give you money with the express intention of getting it back with interest. It’s a deal. And it comes with strings, just like every other job. You have to show up. you have to be nice to folks you don’t like. You have to work. you need to learn. Just like any other job.
Ok so you are not well-equipped for this. You are sensitive. You are vulnerable.
That’s the paradox.
But Taylor isn’t vulnerable, any more than Madonna is vulnerable. She’s a go-getter. She follows the money.
And now she’s annoyed that someone who helped her at the start but now pisses her off has bought her record label with her old records on it.
So she says she’s going to record them all again and sell them herself. What?
So she has so little respect for the time, the place, the care and the creativity that was put into those early records by the whole team that she reckons she can just churn them out again. Really.
And by doing this, hopefully make $360 million next year. Like she needs it.
Taylor, if you don’t respect your old boss, at least respect your own craft.
I’m thinking back to the emotion, the blood, the sweat and lots of tears that went into my work with Sade, Everything But The Girl and so many more. I’m trying to imagine reading they were all being recorded again just to make sure I didn’t earn any more money from them.
The money part would really annoy me. But the thought that underlies it – that this work was so not special, so not of it’s moment, that it can be replaced and recreated at will. That is beyond distressing.