Taylor Swift is undeniably talented, but she seems to have been struggling with identity for the better part of her career. Her days of strumming tunes about lost high school love into the hearts of country audiences are very long gone, and since the early 2010’s she has been trying to reinvent herself as a pop princess of the same strain as Katy Perry and Ke$ha. Simply put, Swift is a revolving door for labels.
But what about the title “labor radical?” Do you think that befits any of Swift’s incarnations? Apparently, Maxwell Strachan of Huffington Post thinks so. Strachan wrote in HuffPo’s “Good Stuff” culture blog on Nov. 24 that Swift’s “labor radical” streak represents the “best version” of her, despite the fact that she sometimes resembles a “...5-foot-10 piece of capitalist machinery…”
Strachan is referring to Swift’s recent record contract with UMG, where she signed only under the condition that her company split the haul from any future sales of its Spotify equity with all of its artists. Additionally, any money that artists receive from that source can’t be deducted from what they would normally get from UMG under their contracts. Earlier this year she arranged a similar deal with Apple Music.
Strachan hailed this as a stroke of genius, dubbing Swift a “defender of fellow artists” and noting that such a victory “deserves to be celebrated, even if it is part of a stealth PR campaign born out of a strategy meeting in which the conclusion was made that solidarity is in” (emphasis in original). Ah yes, solidarity -- it’s not just for blue-collar workers and “oppressed” minorities anymore. Musicians who sign lucrative deals with multi-billion dollar labels can hop on the craze as well. Also, Strachan doesn’t even care if Swift’s move was a product of corporate goons hijacking “solidarity” as part of a slick PR stunt.
And don’t Swift and Strachan have “capitalist machinery” to thank for the fact that mutually agreed-upon contracts form the basis of our economic system?