Taking A Stand Is Good Business

In case you missed the memo, voter registrations went way up after Taylor Swift took a side.

You should too, it humanizes you.

Call it the millennial ethos. To succeed in the world today you must have an identity, and be proud of it. Sure, there will be backlash from those who don’t agree, but if you think everybody loves you, you’re absolutely wrong. That’s what the internet has taught us, there is no monoculture, chances are people have never heard of you or don’t know your music. Then again, it’s those who are uninvolved who take umbrage and protest the most. Like the Republicans who attacked Taylor Swift. Were they really her fans, did they really listen to her music? OF COURSE NOT! So what does it matter? Music is not about the court of opinion, people vote with clicks on streaming services, by buying concert tickets, never forget your fans keep you alive, not the media, so play to them, and what fans want most is a 3-D personality that they can relate to. They’re looking to identify, they’re looking for instruction, I learned more about love and life listening to Joni Mitchel and Jackson Browne than I did from my friends, I thought they got me, I thought they understood me, fans feel the same way about Taylor Swift. And the truth is Taylor Swift is an oddball who doesn’t fit in, didn’t she tell us that from the very beginning, on her first two albums? She couldn’t believe she got all the adulation, then she tried to create a girl posse to counteract the backlash, she grew up in public but she never grew up. Taylor Swift is not a rapper, not part of a community, she’s sui generis, a party of one, as are all true artists, by taking a stand she only burnishes her image, when an artist lets their freak flag fly, shows their true beliefs, it bonds fans to them. It’s the wishy-washy pop stars who fade away.

This is a turning point, but it’s also the way it always was, post Beatles. The Beatles took stands, they were cheeky and irreverent and rarely apologized, and they’re the biggest act of all time! And the acts that followed them, wearing their street clothes on stage, they were sending the message that you should focus on the music, they were, once we went to spandex it was over. Of course Elton John pushed the envelope with costumes, but following in his footsteps would be a mistake, we’re not looking for me-too, we’re looking for original!

As was Dylan went he went Christian. “Slow Train Coming” was one of his best albums, listen and see, the backup playing is superb. And you may not have agreed, but you definitely got the sense that Bob believed. We want people who believe, who just don’t focus on the dollars.

Yup, you’d better not do that because you may alienate sponsors!

But the Eagles never had a sponsor, and Adele avoids them, and they’re the two biggest acts of their respective eras. You’ve got no doubt Henley and Adele believe what they’re singing. Too much of what’s on the hit parade today is pap, which is why it doesn’t resonate.

You’re not a performer, you’re an ARTIST! You have to learn to say no, think for yourself. This does not mean you have to get drunk or doped-up and break laws, but…

Remember Neil Young canceling his tour with Stephen Stills right before it started? A jerky move, but it illustrated that what he felt was more important than the money, that’s Neil’s identity, and he now matters when CSN does not, he can sell many more tickets, even though Stills is a vastly underrated guitarist with a great catalog. When you do what’s expedient, you pay for it.

So all those stories talking about the cost of Taylor Swift going on the record have got it wrong.

As for musicians having opinions… The reason they’re shouted down is because people are afraid of their power, their influence. They say performers are dumb and uneducated because they’re afraid they’ll move the needle, and they do!

And Taylor Swift just did. Sure, she’s got a radio hit, but her demo never listens to the radio, just ask them. Swift’s last album was a stiff, because she’s been trying too hard to be something she’s not, a pop star.

Rumor has it she’s going back to country.

I don’t know. But when she speaks from the heart she has her greatest triumphs.

You should follow her, then you’ll win too. Truly.

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