In the approximately 1,100-word piece, published on July 7, Swift notes that piracy and file-sharing have indeed contributed to a decrease in physical music sales. She believes, however, that music is still valuable and should be paid for.
“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art,” she wrote.
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Swift acknowledges that music fans aren’t purchasing as many albums as they did in past years. But this shouldn’t discourage artists, she says. “It isn't as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us,” the singer wrote.
She believes that fans view music the same way they do their personal relationships. “Some music is just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they dance to at clubs and parties for a month while the song is a huge radio hit, that they will soon forget they ever danced to),” Swift wrote. “However, some artists will be like finding ‘the one.’ We will cherish every album they put out until they retire and we will play their music for our children and grandchildren."
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The singer also feels that artists need to form a strong bond with their fans by regularly offering an “element of surprise.” This is especially important because of the “YouTube generation we live in,” which was “raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient,” she wrote, later noting that fans now ask for selfies instead of autographs.
Swift offered an example of how to keep fans guessing. “I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me,” she wrote. “We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe,” the singer wrote.
She also made some predictions about the future of the music industry.
“A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry,” Swift wrote, referencing a 2005 label meeting where she told executives she had been communicating with fans on a "new site" called Myspace. “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”
Another trend she sees fading is musical genre distinction. “Pop sounds like hip hop; country sounds like rock; rock sounds like soul; and folk sounds like country—and to me, that's incredible progress,” Swift wrote. “I want to make music that reflects all of my influences, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of genres will become less of a career-defining path and more of an organizational tool.”
As previously reported, Swift ranked No. 1 on Billboard's annual Money Makers list, capturing revenue from every angle, earning a whopping $39,699,575.60. Fueled by 2012's "Red," the singer's album sales were eighth among all of Billboard's Money Makers, while on the digital front she sold nearly 10 million downloads, ranking sixth, and fifth in streaming royalties -- tops in country music.