You and me we got big reputations, Taylor Nation.
Taylor Swift and the Grammy Awards go a long way. Fearless won Album of the Year and Best Country Album back in 2010. Speak Now was nominated for Best Country Album in 2012. Red was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Country Album. It would take 1989 to win both its nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. This is without mentioning the multiple nominations and several wins for performances and singles.
After more than a year, we finally get Taylor’s latest album, Reputation, and the last one released through Big Machine Records to gain a new nomination: Best Pop Vocal Album.
Here’s where some people feel this has been a snub, as it is absent from the Album of the Year nominations. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into writing something here, so I’ve let it simmer a bit and now that it’s fully cooked… Let’s dig in.
Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who once again will have to stress this is only my opinion and nothing more, we’re completely convinced that there was a time in which Taylor winning a Grammy was a sign of validation. She was out there to prove that she was not a one-shot, that she was not a five-minute overnight trend, she had a plan, she was willing to do what was needed to excel, and the Recording Academy’s Grammy Awards was the perfect way to prove to the world she had not only arrived – she was moving in.
Yes, there was a time she might needed that accolade as a feedback. She’s got it. Several times as a matter of fact. First as a Country music act, and then as a Pop act. But awards are not fair. You can call a nomination deserved or earned in the court of public opinion, although it is decided within the Recording Academy. The win is purely by insiders’ votes and to be honest none of these insiders are a representation of the public. They’re people in the music industry, not the music audience. Getting their validation as many times as Taylor has won is an achievement in popularity, image and perceived talent.
I’m just going to come out and say it. Taylor’s Reputation deserved the nomination for Album of the Year. However, Taylor does not need the nomination for Album of the Year. For everyone that matters to her, Reputation is a winner. It was a winner on sales, it was a winner for music insiders and it was critically acclaimed. Yes, it had its detractors that were a little too quick to call it a flop. It isn’t by light years away. The tour that followed was packed and financially lucrative. Professionally, financially, critically and musically, it was a win all around. Taylor does not lose anything by not having Reputation not be the Album of the Year.
The Grammy Awards, though, lose a little. It’s true that Taylor does not need a Grammy, but the Recording Academy loses a bit of credibility by not even giving Reputation a nomination. They did choose to include it as a Best Pop Vocal Album though, so it was on their radar for sure. The Recording Academy is trying to update itself to the times, to reward all artists, to make it a fair game, but perception is key. Taylor is a polarizing figure- yes, I never believe I’d say it. Taylor Swift is a polarizing figure. Like all entities that thrive on public perception, the Recording Academy wants to be seen as impartial by the public. I will say this in favour of their decision: everyone deserves their time in the spotlight.
On the other hand, the Grammy Awards needs Taylor Swift. Yes, they do. The tables have turned and her presence and attendance validates the Recording Academy Grammy Awards. It would be a mistake to blatantly pass on one of the greatest performers of this decade. She keeps growing in an industry that is changing. Stop trying to find the formula to viral marketing, fandoms nowadays grow in the internet without outside intervention. Taylor has been known to cultivate a following that needs no encouragement from professional insiders. She’s also become a music industry insider herself – she’s been known to influence the industry on some key changes.
You can argue until you’re blue in the face what were Taylor Swift’s motives to influence Apple Music and now how she’s made UMG agree that any sale of Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable, and she put that as part of her contract with them. You can say that her letter to Apple was more self-serving than thinking of her fellow artists. You’d find scarcer arguments about that shares distribution for all artists agreement. If you set aside the motivation (which I can argue back all day, but let’s not) you still would have to agree the other artists benefit from that intervention. Taylor Swift did not made leave either transaction to her management team, she went all in herself and won demonstrating she’s literally a player inside the game. She’s got leverage, influence and most important, power enough behind her name. Could she be a key for the music industry’s survival? Well…
The truth is I don’t think the music industry is dying. I think that invariably times change and you have to adapt or die. Old models and media are no longer feasible. The music format is no longer a physical medium (yet Taylor still sells them CDs, try figuring that one out). Radio airwaves are not the solely route by which to rank music. Distribution through online streaming is now key to reaching your audience. The industry will survive. It’s the current music moguls, labels and executives that are in danger of getting left behind if they don’t keep up.
Far it be for lowly old me to tell the Recording Academy how to do business, but having said all that… I’d keep watching what Taylor Swift does. Because after all the things said about her, well… She seems to get smarter, harder in the nick of time. Now that would be a good talent to learn.
Coming up next in the Calendar:
- December 13: You will figure it out some day.
- February 10: The 61st Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift’s Reputation is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album.
(Sources: @TaylorNation13 via Twitter, Big Machine Records. Photo: Kevork Djansezian / GRAMMY)