It’s not often that amazing marketing tactics are associated with musicians. But, when it comes to pop star Taylor Swift, she’s a master of her craft – and I don’t just mean releasing record breaking albums. Swift’s marketing campaigns start long before the record is dropped.
It was a big weekend for Swifties. Taylor Swift released her latest album Midnights and it went on to become the most streamed album in Spotify history. But the magnitude of the album was known long before it dropped, because if there’s one thing Swift is good at, it’s getting her fans into a frenzy.
Taylor Swift and her clues
Swift’s marketing is driven by social media. The singer relies on her cult-like following and hero status to breadcrumb her fans with clues in the lead up to a new album. Often clearing her social media profiles, this is the first clue that a new album is on the horizon. She will then drop clues on her Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for her fanbase to interpret.
In 2021, Swift famously rerecorded a lot of her songs after cutting ties with controversial manager Scooter Braun. In the lead up to the suite of songs that were renamed to have (Taylor’s Version) at the end, Swift teased her audience as to which songs would become the heralded ‘Taylor’s Version’. She tweeted a video of a vault opening and letters appearing. Fans scrambled to unscramble and reveal the beloved tracks that would be released.
The vault door is about to be as unhinged as you’ll think I am after you watch this video.
Happy decoding! pic.twitter.com/xBXBXGVcdb
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 2, 2021
For her 2022 album Midnights, the clues were always there. Thirteen TikToks in the lead up to its release has naturally meant that the album is lucky number 13 tracks long. The TikToks got over 74 million views by the time the album was released – and it turns out that this sort of marketing technique translated into streams (and therefore dollars).
The universe of Swift
Even those who aren’t self-declared ‘Swifties’ are curious. Swift trends in the lead up to and the following days after an album is released. The notoriously private pop star treats her fans and the extended audience with tiny bits about her life through song. Each song is listened to in finite detail whilst people decide who this one could be about. Which lover broke her heart and is now being immortalised in song? Which enemy has hurt Swift to the point that a ballard has been penned? Swifties are quick to put the pieces together and decide who is friend and who is foe in the album.
And so, her marketing doesn’t stop with the breadcrumbing of clues before its release, her songwriting is also marketing. It’s not just about “what will the tracks be titled?” But it’s weaving together the web of stories she’s telling through song. Working out who each is about. Listening to them over and over whilst trawling the internet for fan theories.
Swift’s marketing tactic is working. Midnights is the most streamed album in a day, and it goes to show that whether a Swiftie, a casual fan or just someone with a social media account, the intrigue of Taylor Swift and her marketing is inescapable.