Pop music

"Will you go to Madrid?": what has Taylor Swift done to be so successful?

The American singer has sold out all the tickets for her tour, which these days passes through Madrid, with a career based on "taking care" of fans and seeking normality

Yeray S. Iborra
6 min
Taylor Swift in a recent image.

BarcelonaIt can undo the mud that is social network X (formerly Twitter). His power reaches that point. And its capacity for loyalty! In April, hours before release of his latest album, The tortured poets department, the songs were leaked. It is not the first time, nor the last, that a musical secret kept under lock and key spreads across the Internet ahead of time. What was extraordinary was the reaction of the people, especially on social networks, in which a debate began about whether to wait for the official publication of the album to listen to it or take advantage of the leak. The loyalty of the fans was absolute with Taylor Swift. Almost devout, sacred. They waited.

That's how they are swifties, as the staunch American faithful are known, the most important person of the year for the magazine time, the most listened to of 2023 on Spotify and Apple Music and, despite the leak, she has made a record with her eleventh album: it is the publication with the most views in all of history in the first week since the premiere. She is the singer of extraordinary figures. Before swiftie It was a label reserved for several faithful. Nowadays, the thing has spread much more. No need to show off friendship bracelets, "friendship bracelets" – fans make them and exchange them – for belonging to the world Swift.

Taylor Swift holding hands with a fan at a concert at La Defénse in Paris this May.

Since a few months ago, when The Eras Tour placed the singer's phenomenon at historic figures (Ticketmaster received requests for 900 concerts, when she offered it. only 147), things have become much more transversal: "You are swiftie or are you not?", "Are you going to Madrid?", are phrases that a while ago I only heard among my students at the institute. Now I hear them in the mouths of classmates, friends and media from all over who, like me when I I put in the effort to write Taylor Swift Phenomenon (Silex Ediciones, 2024), they do not explain what the singer has done to be so successful.

The secrets of success

The answer is, like almost everything in life, complex. He talks about a career of years, of succeeding first in a circuit that is small in the world, but big in America – that of country. extending to pop already with a good bag of followers and fame, and also taking brave and singular steps: confronting the industry (he has re-recorded his albums as a protest against the management of copyrights, known as Taylor's version) and also for having gradually become immersed in political trouble: against Donald Trump, social issues (in favor of the rights of migrants) and, above all, LGTBIQ+ and gender issues. His fans especially value this progressive growth. So slow and organic.

An example of this positioning occurred after George Floyd, from Minneapolis, died on May 25, 2020, asphyxiated by the violent actions of police officer Derek Chauvin when he was arresting him. In a few days, the event generated a wave of indignation and protests throughout the US (and the entire planet) against racism, xenophobia and abuses towards African-American citizens. The outburst was also firmly noted on the networks. Taylor Swift got wet like never before, and did not hesitate to support Joe Biden's candidacy against Donald Trump: "After fueling the fire of white supremacy throughout his presidency, he still has the audacity to feign moral superiority and threaten more violence? ", the American wrote in a tweet. "We will fire him in November," he continued.

But years before, a political awakening had already begun, much more timid than that of Black Lives Matter, but constantly growing: in October 2018, Swift shared on Instagram the reasons why she would vote for the Democratic Party and not the Republicans in the elections. November legislative elections. "In the past I have been reluctant to publicly express my political opinions but, due to several events that have taken place in my life and in the world in the last two years, I feel very differently," began a statement declaring his support to the LGTBIQ+ cause and its rejection of any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender. A year later she would make one of the most celebrated recent speeches about women's rights and vindication of their role in society at a Billboard Awards gala. Swift was the first woman to receive Billboard's Woman of the Decade Award in 2019.

When Kanye West disparaged her at the MTV Awards, she did not respond. It took a few years. and published Reputation (2017). He did not burn the networks, he left encrypted messages – or not so much – to Look what you made me do. There was also some time between suffering abuse from a disc jockey and going public. Or between who suffered an eating disorder (ED) and explained the experience. Taylor Swift has been gradually taking on debates. After all, how we all do it; how we can, not how we are taught in fictions. No heroics. He has made interventions in can shows, his award speeches and, above all, his albums, a diary in which he explained what affected him and how, in a very different way in each era.

The loving innocence of his first songs on the self-titled album is not the same. Taylor Swift that the breadth of vision and crudeness around mental health, for example, in pandemic albums Folklore and Evermore (both from 2020). That young woman, almost a debutante, has nothing to do with Fearless (2008) or Speak now (2010) with the artist hurt, but empowered, and even rude – her last album is full of swear words. These confessions in the ear, but modulated in style and tone by the passage of time, have spread the passion for her.

Connection with fans

Taylor Swift's fans consider her a friend, an older sister. A person of trust. Almost known. She herself has reinforced that idea with her 360° communication. Networking. He has 134 million followers on Instagram. But also live: he has held surprise parties for several lucky people on several occasions. Voice and guitar. And it has consolidated a concept, that of mythomania that, through the screen, seems to make relationships closer. More –paradox– real.

If you don't think about money – she is the first singer with a billion-dollar net worth – it is easy to empathize with Taylor Swift: she has always been recognized as the weird one in the class, the tall and sloppy girl, the one with the nose between books. American psychiatrists cite her as a positive reference for therapy. Nothing could be further from the girl archetype. popu from high school. Nothing could be further from the Hollywood-adolescent legend of the cheerleader no way with the captain of the American football team. Although this last analogy doesn't work much today: perhaps she has never been the cheerleader, but she has ended up in a relationship with an NFL winner, Travis Kelce.

Jokes aside, Taylor Swift is the normal. And there are more of us normals. It is much easier to connect from where everyone can connect. She is the queen of those who don't always get ahead. And of them there is an army.

Everyone who has dealt with him personally, including journalists, for example the renowned Josh Duboff of the magazine Vanity Fair, They highlight the ideal mix between education, caution and a fun disposition. The American laughs at herself. A mistake is a good excuse to naturalize imperfection. And this is recognized by his followers, who fill YouTube and TikTok with accounts that collect errors, oversights and various mistakes from The Eras Tour and make viral videos with their response: a smile, a spontaneous comment that stops a Show with everything millimetered, a grimace.

The American singer at the Paris concert with which she opened The Eras Tour in Europe.

Taylor Swift is, contrary to what had been cultivated until recently by the industry, the error that humanizes her and distances her from the position of total perfection that pop divas had held until recently. Those who later fell like a mountain of letters as a result of media pressure: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse. Broken toys. Swift, however, is the imperfect diva. The nearby diva.

Although he doesn't make it easy, it seems like he tries. The battle to get tickets to their concerts was epic. Thousands of fans have been left out of The Eras Tour or have had to take out mortgages: the cheapest tickets already cost 85 euros in the back areas of the venues (in the case of the swifties Europeans it is necessary to add trips to nearby cities if there is no concert in the city itself, since there are people who travel to Lisbon, Paris or London). At resale prices have reached 4,000 euros. Given the insufficient supply, Swift invented Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Sam Wrench) for cinemas. The concert, slightly abridged (two and a half hours of film), which broke the record for This is it, by Michael Jackson, at the box office. Taylor Swift, the distant friend.