The Swift Situation

Rerecords always fail. They just don’t capture the magic of the original. Def Leppard tried this while they were hashing out streaming rights with Universal and…if you were a fan, they were unsatisfying. Kinda like a star who gets plastic surgery…they never look as good as they did before, at best they just look different.

Now the problem with these spats, which never used to get ink in the pre-internet era, is you never know all the facts. So at this point, we’re only privy to Swift’s version. Let’s run with that.

Was Swift really gonna release the AMA performances on streaming services? Probably not, now Scooter and Scott have given her the idea. Then again, maybe she threatened she was gonna do this. However, to restrict the performance of an act’s hits is bad business, it ends up leaving a stink on everyone but the act. How about the Little River Band with no original members? How about Tom Petty fighting MCA over list price? An artist is willing to put everything on the line, to sacrifice, someone beholden to money is not. And let’s be clear, it ain’t Scooter’s money that bought these rights, but those deep-pocketed funders who only care about the bottom line.

But Taylor played her hand wrong here, from start to finish. That’s what happens when you’re too inside, kinda like the Democrats and the press, who can’t see they’re in an echo chamber and their message re-impeachment is not being heard by the Fox News crew. They’ve got to penetrate Fox, the Daily Caller, all of those outlets, but they’re not. Swift believed that Monte could do better. And Monte’s a superstar, he’s the hottest in the business. However, Monte has tons of hit acts, Taylor Swift was the big kahuna on Big Machine. Monte just needs something to hit, it doesn’t have to be Taylor Swift, whereas Big Machine needs Taylor to succeed. It’s kinda like management, you can fire the person who was there for you all along to go to the multi-act superstar manager, but once again, that manager has other acts, and no established history/loyalty. I’m not saying you should stay with the old person if they’re a crook, or if they’re inept or unable to graduate to the top level, but if you think the grass is always greener on the other side…you’re wrong.

So the real story here is the new Swift album is a stiff. The paradigm changed and she didn’t. Now it’s all about constant drops of new material, now it’s mostly about hip-hop. Swift needed to change her methods, be in the public eye with new material on a regular basis, make the music the story, not the shenanigans. But the music already came and went, even though she just released a redo with Shawn Mendes… This is kinda like Lil Nas X enlisting Billy Ray Cyrus for his redo, hoping for some country airplay and more publicity. And right now Shawn Mendes is arguably hotter than Taylor Swift.

Who needed to be a pop star. She coulda stayed in country and been a queen forever. Like Carrie Underwood, but with a weaker voice and more songwriting talent. You live and die by the hit in the pop world.

So there’s no story anymore. Why do you think Swift is even doing the AMAs…the worst excuse of an awards show ever, Dick Clark’s imitation Grammys for the holiday season, this ersatz show has ratings to match, as in the toilet. Superstars pass, superstars go for the Grammys, which up until now blacklisted those who appeared on the AMAs…but Swift has to keep her album alive, or at least try to.

As for a Netflix movie… Anybody who has ever been involved with visual content knows there’s a licensing issue, it’s why so much content couldn’t even make it to DVD or streaming. Just ask for a quote on a song, never mind the track, this is how publishing companies make their money! If they’ve been making this movie for years, Swift’s handlers should have gotten permission in a separation agreement, before she decided to move on to Republic. Then again, maybe they tried and they couldn’t get it.

By fighting this battle in public, Swift is actually losing. She’s becoming known for everything but the music.

As for Scooter and Swift…they’re negotiating, trying to use their leverage to get what they want. But the stakes are not high enough. Not performing a medley on TV, you can forgo that. As for doing a medley…isn’t this the last effort of the has-beens?

Once again, Swift should have stayed at Big Machine and earned her records back. She had the option, she turned it down. Furthermore, her father was on the board and approved the deal, if she was blind-sided…there’s no communication in that family.

As for Scooter and Scott, pick your battles. You don’t want to appear artist-unfriendly, it’s the kiss of death, acts stay away from you, fearful of consequences. Even I’ve been in this situation, turning down deals with those with litigious reputations. As for acts, back when there were many more labels…Warner always got first pick, because of Mo & Joe & Lenny… They’d leave some money on the table, to further your career, whereas the Big Red Machine would wring every last dollar out of your project for short term profits, screw the act, ultimately it’s fungible.

Big Machine should just give Taylor what she wants. Let her perform the old hits, it’s good for Big Machine, which owns all the hit albums anyway. But it’s not like the old days, where distribution is difficult, Swift could put out redos and maybe even get some traction. Then again, Spotify weeds out the crap, the covers by nobodies, to focus on the real deal. And when the real deal sits next to the ersatz, what you gonna play?

But Swift is known for being thin-skinned, and the artist always wins in the eye of the public, hell, ticket buyers hate Ticketmaster, which is just a front for the acts. The fees are there because the promoter gives the act all the money other than the fees! But never underestimate the power of the public to misperceive reality. Look at what’s going on in D.C. right now!

When there’s a conflagration, you let it burn itself out, you don’t pour gasoline on the fire. Let Taylor sing her old songs.

As for the movie…someone’s got to pay.

As for the future… Scooter should have foreseen these problems, reached out to make nice with Taylor before the deal closed. This is far from unheard of. And Concord bought Fantasy and started paying John Fogerty royalties again, even though he’d sold them all to Fantasy years before. Never underestimate good will.

But in the modern music business it’s about the penumbra as opposed to the essence, we’re more interested in the feuds than the tunes. Oftentimes, the feuds are the only interesting thing.

Taylor got what she wanted here, at least in part, more attention, more sympathy.

But times move on. I don’t see the internet lighting up about the incarceration of Kodak Black. You’re in your own vertical today. And the only people who truly care are the Swifties, who Scooter will now hear from until the end of time. You don’t want a celeb to call the dogs on you, they’ve got many more fans than you do.

No one can stay on top forever. You try to make choices that benefit your career. Taylor might have beaten the scalpers, but she beat herself too. Kinda like Madonna playing late…she thinks her audience is still teens and twentysomethings. Who does she think is gonna pay four figures for a ticket? People who flew in, who have babysitters, who have commitments. You’ve got to know your audience.

And Scooter and Scott didn’t know theirs here, they should have foreseen trouble, they should have laid low and just let Swift sing…the medley would have been forgotten almost right after she sang it, that’s today’s world.

And Swift should stop caring about all those who don’t care about her. Now it’s just the Swifties and occasional looky-loos.

But one day you’re swarmed with attention, and the next security is unnecessary, the public moves on to someone new.

But the truth is the public owns every story these days, assuming people care. If you interact with the public, you know its power. Swift does, Scooter and Scott really don’t.

Advantage Swift.

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