By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, everyone and their mom has heard that Taylor Swift is back. Following her successful assault trial, T-Swizzle has returned with a new album, titled Reputation, single and music video. While I could spend some time talking about the time appropriateness of the launch, cultural themes in her music video, and just the overall tone of the campaign, I’ll save that for Twitter. This is a personal style and beauty blog, so we’re talking MERCH. A few months ago I talked about how concert merchandise has a special place in my heart and also in the hearts of many others I’m sure. However, I have a couple problems with not only the design of Taylor’s merch but the marketing principles behind it.
Please note that obviously, I’m not a Taylor Swift stan. I’m a big fan of Speak Now and Red, and I really haven’t heard a single that wasn’t a bop until this most recent one, so her music is not what I take issue with. Rather, it’s the persona she has adopted over the years since she removed herself from the country scene and inserted herself into pop.
So What’s With the Snakes?
At first glance, her merch seems innocent enough. Got a CD, some shirts with the album cover on it. Then come snake rings, a hoodie with snake detailing, plus a couple items with a very particular font many of us are familiar with. Starting with the snake, let’s just say that trying to “reclaim” the snake part of the narrative she wanted no part of is shady at best and intentionally obtuse at worst. I mean, just last year she was responsible for Instagram allowing users to ban certain phrases (in this case, snake emojis) from their pages. I get that people change their minds about things, but this is an obvious marketing tactic, one that doesn’t sit well with me.
Then the Kanye font. No, he hasn’t actually trademarked that font, but the similarities are uncanny, and of course, many people have pointed it out. People have also pointed out that the album is set on Donda West’s anniversary of death but I don’t think Taylor Swift would go out of her way to do something like that, and it’s the furthest reach I’ve seen all of 2017.
Taylor Swift Tix: Shady or Helpful?
So you think her merch is shady. What’s the big deal? Well yeah, everything mentioned above is pretty much an opinion, and because I’ve never met the girl, I could be entirely wrong. However, the big glaring problem with Taylor’s merch strategy for this album is the connection to concert tickets. Ticket bots have been a huge problem in recent years for real fans trying to get good seats to shows which has lead to many artists partnering with ticket providers to have Verified Fan Sales. Swift’s team has gone one step further with Taylor Swift Tix. It allows fans to complete “unique activities” to increase their chances of getting tickets including buying music and merchandise.
Yes, there are some free activities like watching music videos and joining the email list but those are “low boosts” and therefore not super helpful when the Waitlist to Priority Line refreshes every 24 hours. I think this crosses the line from “helping the fans” to taking advantage of them. I believe the hardcore fans will be willing the participate in this, but my main concerns are the casual fans and the young, impressionable ones with parents who can’t necessarily afford to buy merch AND tickets, especially since buying the merch does not guarantee a ticket. Ethically, I’m not here for this, and this is why I don’t carry much sympathy for Taylor Swit and some of the things she gets crap for because she is complicit in much of it.
Do you guys care about any of this? What are your thoughts on TSwift, postitive or negative? Do you agree with her marketing tactics? Sound off in the comments and I’ll see you next week!