Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The Apple of My Eye

Is Taylor Swift the Apple of the music industry?
Updated 26 Apr, 2024 04:52pm

Amidst the global crises and turmoil, Taylor Swift dropped a new album, The Tortured Poets Department, with 31 songs. Since marketing is all about trends, a friend, who is the admin of a Facebook marketing group, posted about it. The range of comments was interesting and one person commented that she did not get the hype after listening to only one song. A discussion ensued and my friend at one point labelled her work as mass market. Leaping to the defence of Swift as a diehard ‘Swiftie’, I commented that she is the ‘Apple’ of the music industry. My friend, as expected, dismissed this viewpoint immediately.

Aside from my obvious bias, I think Swift and Apple have a lot in common. Let’s break it down.

An almost cult following
Apple is not a brand; it’s almost a cult, with diehard fans, hero worship of Steve Jobs, tales and lore, and community. Swift enjoys the same things with her group of fans, who, like Apple loyalists, are spread across a variety of age groups and lifestyles.

What’s a good brand story without betrayal and a villain? Both Jobs and Swift were betrayed and fell from grace. Jobs got his revenge when he rejoined Apple and Swift is in the process of claiming what is rightfully hers by re-recording her albums. Both have grown exponentially since, or because of, the betrayal.

Apple is synonymous with technology and a focus on the best product in terms of experience. Swift, being farsighted, saw that streaming was the future and embraced technology. In fact, when Apple Music launched, Swift refused to sign up because they were not paying artists enough. Thanks to her digital vision and mission, she is consistently among the top global artists on Apple and Spotify.

The devil is in the details
Apple spends a lot of time and money on the products they create; they focus on the look, feel, sound and other areas of the brand or user experience. Experts in various industries—music, songwriting, videography and animation—will all tell you they love a Taylor Swift song or video because she knows how to create an immersive experience, paying ridiculous attention to detail and things that would seem insignificant to others. Jobs was a perfectionist of sorts and Swift seems to be similar. This leads to my next point.

The product is the best marketing
Apple spends a lot on marketing and they and Swift both know that the products they produce are their best marketing vehicles. This is why both do not need to advertise events and new products, and there is a long line of people ready to buy them as soon as they drop their products.

No to dictation
Apple has been praised and acclaimed as a company pushing the boundaries of innovation and they do it their way. Apple never installed Flash and where possible, they develop their own tech. Swift started as a country star and made the hyperjump to pop; she has put out music according to what she desires, she has done music that is 80s/90s synth, alternative, bubble gum, in addition to dark and deep tracks. She, like Apple, does not care on the surface about trends; in fact, they both help create them. Both have their own road maps and timelines, which they follow without regard for others’ criticism.

Memes and hate
Apple and Swift both have haters and have at times been ridiculed through memes and other media. But I think both are laughing their way to the bank while enjoying a certain extent of notoriety.

Unfair business practices
Swift has been accused of overpricing concert tickets and merchandise; she was in the sights of people for her jet usage and for being a manipulative businesswoman. Apple has stirred controversy about their exploitation of child labour in Africa and has been criticised for deliberately forcing people to update to newer models by removing support for their older ones.

Love life and the laser focus of the press
We have all heard volumes about Jobs’ love life and personal affairs. Oh, wait, we have not. Jobs is revered as a pioneer and visionary. He was, but he is also documented as being petty, vindictive, obstinate and a bad father. Swift has not been so lucky. As she sings in The Man, her personal life and personality cannot be separated from what she does as a businesswoman or artist. Ed Sheeran is as popular a star as her; I have loved his music for years, but I have not even seen his dating history mentioned or whether he is married or not.

One thing Swift has to deal with that Jobs did not is misogyny. That explains some of the hate and criticism she faces, while Jobs is given a halo of sorts. In my estimation, Swift is not comparable to Apple; she rises far above the brand considering she is a single woman with a team, not a company with thousands of employees and resources.

Tyrone Tellis is Senior Manager, Corporate Sales and PR, Bogo.