Thursday, October 26, 2017

Taylor Swift “Gorgeous” | Lefsetz Letter

She should have stayed country.

In the world of pop you live and die by the hit. In Nashville once you’ve made your bones you’re a star forever.

You see Taylor miscalculated. She put out a pop album when hip-hop rules.

Doubt me?

Check out the Spotify Top 50, where “Gorgeous” is only #6. Sure, it’s got an upwards bullet but these days we know whether a track is successful instantly. It’s in the Spotify data, one can measure skip and save rates and it took less than a day for Gaga’s album to underperform.

But at least Gaga is true to herself.

Swift wants to compete with everybody.

But Post Malone’s “rockstar” is getting 2,379,623 plays a day on Spotify. That’s #1. The same act’s “I Fall Apart” is #2 and is getting 1,145,071 streams a day. This is further indication that Swift has faltered, since “Look What You Made Me Do” was a chart triumph, but “…Ready For It” never quite climbed the hill, and then fell back down.

#3 is Logic’s “1-800-273-8255”, with 1,036,612 streams a day.

#4 is 21 Savage’s “Bank Account,” with 1,027,778 streams a day.

Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” is #5, with 1,000, 935 streams a day.

And then we come to “Gorgeous,” which has 910,008 streams a day. And one can say that’s not a lot less than what’s above it, then again, right behind Swift at #7 we have “Havana,” with 876,281. And then Cardi B and Khalid also have tracks eclipsing 800,000 and…

We live in a world of consumption, it’s the only thing that matters. A turntable hit is a thing of the past. Radio can’t prop up a stiff. You get paid by consumption, i.e. streams/listens, so it’s the only thing that really counts. Sure, there’s PRO money on radio, but it’s de minimis compared to streams.

As for sales…

Here’s a whopper. On iTunes “Gorgeous” is #5! Eclipsed by Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” at #1, and Ed Sheeran at #2, and “rockstar” at #3 and the aforementioned “Havana” at #4.

As for Spotify, Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” is at #39, with 494,013 streams a day. And we can argue whether the band’s fans are streaming, but the truth is we’re evolving into a world where sales are done and on demand streaming is everything and you live and die by the statistics.

So we can debate all day long whether Swift has been impacted by her publicity shenanigans. Hell, at this point the media covers her a lot less, did you know she played “Reputation” for 100 fans? That’s the old paradigm, where publicity of these stunts mattered, now it doesn’t. People get their info online and they go directly to their streaming site of choice and see what’s happening, they’re sick of being manipulated.

This is important, because the music business has been built upon manipulation, and that will still be a factor, but when you cut out the middleman and go directly to the consumer you lose a lot of control and find out…

Just like country triumphed on SoundScan, unexpectedly, hip-hop triumphs on streaming services. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan or not, this is what everybody is listening to.

Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood is still a star in country. Miranda Lambert too. Whereas Taylor Swift has been excommunicated by the format, she turned out to be untrustworthy, a traitor. Used to be Taylor Swift was in the Taylor Swift business, now she’s in the pop business, competing with everybody.

And “Gorgeous” ain’t bad, sounds like the rest of the work Max Martin and Shellback are involved with, it’s just that it needs a better singer, Taylor Swift’s voice is weak, whereas with Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande or Katy Perry it would have a much more dramatic impact. As for the lyrics, they come last, they always come last. And in an era of chaos, Taylor Swift is too me focused, she’s out of touch with the times.

But this is not about Taylor Swift, but your career. Beware of wanting everything, be satisfied with the niche you’ve established. If you can remain true to yourself and succeed, more power to you, but if you bend to trends you live by trends, and the trend has skewed away from pop divas and as a result the tide is going out on Taylor Swift.

Everybody’s arguing about Cardi B.

Taylor Swift is last month’s news. She broke the cardinal rule of the internet, which is you’ve got to be part of the discussion 24/7. She’s so tightly managed (and wound!) that she’s inaccessible, in an era where everybody is a star they don’t want to be talked down to by a faux friend.

And I don’t care if she writes another song about me, NO ONE WILL LISTEN!

U2 tried to be au courant. Madonna too. They ended up being laughable has-beens. There’s nothing wrong with being a has-been, you can still tour, bleeding your acolytes, hell, look at Def Leppard’s ticket counts, but when you try to succeed in the new game it’s creepy. Unlike Bob Dylan, who’s in the Bob Dylan business. Then again, the only people interested in his covers are the press, not one track from “Triplicate” has broken a million on Spotify, ditto “Fallen Angels,” whereas every cut from “Tempest,” his last original work, exceeds seven figures. We want originals from Dylan, and the data tells us that. Used to be you bought the album, played it once and filed it. Now you check out a few tracks and move on.

Not that experimentation is bad. But fan abuse is.

So, if Swift were smart, she’d can “Reputation” and put out a hip-hop track, since she missed the times. Hell, a mixtape like Drake, with her favorite hip-hop favorites as well as a number of her own works in this field. And sure, Taylor Swift rapping might be laughable, but Debbie Harry got away with it.

Then again, she was a lot more credible.


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