Taylor Swift: 'It's an interesting dance being a young woman in the music industry'

Taylor Swift

It’s Music Week Women In Music Awards day, with the great and good of the music industry heading for The Brewery in London to celebrate another year of female achievement across every sector of the biz.

Since Music Week launched the awards in 2014, in partnership with AIM and UK Music, we have honoured many notable executives and stars, from Emma Banks, Alison Wenham and Jo Dipple to Sharleen Spiteri, Ms Banks and Skin from Skunk Anansie.

The business landscape for female artists and execs has also improved in recent years, as acknowledged by this week’s Music Week cover star, Taylor Swift.

Our exclusive interview with Swift has lit up the industry and the global media this week, thanks to Swift’s thoughts on everything from the freedom offered by her new record company to her joy at discovering that “songwriting is not tied to my own personal misery”.

But in the interview, she also reflected on her early days as an artist. Swift has always called the shots in her own career and been engaged in every aspect of her releases and touring. But she told us that, when she first started out, she was reluctant to take credit for what her song The Man refers to as her “good ideas and power moves”.

“It always was and it always will be an interesting dance being a young woman in the music industry,” she told Music Week. “We don’t have a lot of female executives, we’re working on getting more female engineers and producers but, while we are such a drastic gender minority, it’s interesting to try and figure out how to be.”

Swift said the situation was also enhanced by her youth, with her signing to her former label Big Machine while still a teenager.

“I was planning the release of my first album when I was 15 years old,” she said. “And I was a fully gangly 15, I reminded everyone of their niece! I was in this industry in Nashville and country music, where I was making album marketing calls, but I never wanted to stand up and say, ‘Yeah, that promotions plan you just complimented my label on, I thought of that! Me and my Mom thought of that!’”

Swift left Big Machine last year and signed a new deal with Universal’s Republic Records. As revealed by Music Week on Monday, she credits that deal with her new-found musical freedom, as showcased on her smash hit latest album, Lover.

She’s also become a leading advocate for artists’ and songwriters’ rights. And, after standing up to the likes of Apple, Spotify and her old label – Scott Borchetta sold Big Machine to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings earlier this year, taking Swift’s first six albums with him, a situation she described as her “worst-case scenario” – Swift has, for a long time now, been unafraid to use her voice on industry matters.

“When you’re a new artist you wonder how much space you can take up and, as a woman, you wonder how much space you can take up pretty much your whole period of growing up,” she said. “For me, growing up and knowing that I was an adult was realising that I was allowed to take up space from a marketing perspective, from a business perspective, from an opinionated perspective. And that feels a lot better than constantly trying to wonder if I’m allowed to be here.”

The crowd at today’s sold-out Women In Music Awards will no doubt toast those sentiments.

* To read the full, exclusive Music Week interview with Taylor Swift, see the current print edition of Music Week, available now, or click here. To order your magazine copy, email Rachael Hampton on rachael.hampton@futurenet.com. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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