The biggest thing we hear in the music business these days are the effects of what I call "The  Taylor Effect." These are the amazing things that artist phenom Taylor Swift has created in the music industry.
Since she came to the forground five years ago, she has become the standard all young, female artists are judged by and who they all emulate at this point. I can't go anywhere without encountering some 13-17 year old, with her "Momager" in tow, trying to impress me as to how they are the "Next Taylor." I recently responded to a post on another  forum that went something like this: (from the Father (Dadager) of a 13 year old newbie artist.:

Dad/Manager = Daddager

First of all, it's great to be involved with the local songwriting community.
My name is Rodney. I'm the "Daddager" of a young, inspired songwriter. My daughter, Kinsey, recently joined NSAI. We're looking forward to networking with you!
We've met with and worked with quite a few people on Music Row over the last 6 months - demo studios, NSAI, workshops, publishers, mentors, etc..
As an outsider, it's been surprising to me that in every, single conversation we've had, the person we've talked to has used the phrase "like Taylor Swift" at some point in our conversations.
I guess that's the verbage to expect when introducing a young, guitar/songwriting female. But, just curious if the legend of Taylor Swift is bigger in Nashville than I thought??

Daddager - Rodney ...

The MAB answer to parents:

Rodney, welcome to the insane asylum.

Yes, as in any industry, the leaders are always going to be the ones quoted as to what is needed. It is very common and has always been that way. In my era, the 90’s, it led to interesting senarios. That developed into a joke which goes like this:

“WHO is Garth Brooks?”
“Get me someone like Garth Brooks.”
“Find me the NEXT Garth Brooks.”
WHO is Garth Brooks?”

It is a revolving cycle that happens in any industry. And will continue till that entity runs out of gas. They set the standard and are what everything else is measured by. Taylor, like Garth before her, reset the boundries on younger artists. Younger artists in music are nothing new. Rock and pop have always featured the younger acts, primarily in their focus. The Beatles and Elvis were really teenagers when they started. And since rock and pop were about rebelling against the parents it played well.
Country was traditionally an older format, with artists focusing on the life experiences in their songs. They were more “real.”

So it created a delimma for younger artists, particularly female, who either came off too saccharine, Disney esque, or age inappropriate. An older listener, 19-25-30 years old are simply not going to be lectured about relationships or hardships in life but someone 8-10 years older than them.
But Taylor did something in her songwriting that most of us hear about but never did. She said the same thing differently.
In songs like “OUR SONG”, one of her first big hits, she took a long standing clichéd’ title, “Our Song”, (that had always been written like “our song was playing when we got married, our song was there when out children were born….blah, blah, blah) Taylor made it about SOUNDS. (A slamming door, talking low so your Mama don’t know”) she did it differently than most of us had thought of and it not only resonated with her target audiences, but EXPANDED her audience.
The Country audience had traditionally been over 18 up around 45, 70% female. She expanded that DOWN, her age group, 14, to 16, and then expanded it UP to 50 and 60 year olds. Her age group and slightly above, thought “That is ME!!!” Those women’s Mother’s, said “THAT IS YOU!!!!” to their daughters and the Grandmothers said “THAT WAS BOTH OF YOU!!!!” So she was embraced by a HUGE demographic.

Just like Garth, a decade before, revolutionized the country industry by bringing huge effects centered, rock live shows and technical energy, Taylor brought the tech savy Internet and was able to use it to her advantage like all younger people do. Being ahead of the curve, she was able to engineer a huge fan base before she got her deals and then expand it exponentially. She now runs a multi million dollar entertainment empire. Her tours and record still sell HUGE where most artists are reduced to giving away their music for free just to get people interested. Her record label (THAT SHE OWNS) is the “BIG MACHINE” that is the envy of every industry person. She employs the stalwarts, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntyre, Martina McBride, she was able to relaunch Rascal Flatts, when DISNEY closed their label down. She is entrenched in publishing, merchandising, and “behind the scenes” industries . Now she is expanding into acting, producing, directing. Watch her to have major films to her credit down the line. She is pretty hot in Hollywood too.

And unlike Rock, that uses the Brittany Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, celebrity drug addled and rehab meltdowns as a resume’ BUILDER for TMZ and Entertainment tonight,country doesn’t do that, so Taylor’s image tends to stay above that aside from her well-publicized romantic adventures. And of course she uses that to her benefit by channeling it into songs. And unlike the songs most female artists do, the ACSS (Angry Chick Singer Syndrome) her’s are fun, tongue in cheek, and bouncy monster melodies. So it is engaging.

So yes, any younger female singer is going to get the “You need to be just like Taylor.” Just like every young male artist hears “You need to be just like Justin Bieber.” In any industry the leaders are who are emulated. If you are wanting to be in the tech industries, you need to be “Like APPLE”, in the Internet, “Like Facebook or GOOGLE” and NFL quarterbacks, Like Tom Brady or Joe Flacco.” Those are who sets the tone and the industry standard.
But it has the opposite effect as well. What we have now is an enormous glut of EVERYONE who is trying to do this at a young age, are sounding EXACTLY like Taylor.

I had one artist I work with ni Atlanta who had everything. 16. Great looks, GREAT voice, very good songs. But they all sound like Taylor. The first thing I did was get her away from that. I had her stop wearing her hair curley (of course then Taylor went to straight hair) and started getting songs away from those types. It is a start.

Right now I am in Winnipeg Canada, doing two workshops and meeting privately with artists and writers. I am a consulant to those people and help them learn about the ups and downs of the industry, particularly as it involved songwriting craft. Yesterday, my first appointment was a 16 year old girl and her Momager.
She was EXACTLY LIKE TAYLOR. Same hair, and same sounding songs. Rapid fire lyrics, too much musical movement and all the subjects were the same thing, boys, boys boys, and said the exact same way.
That is the problem. The first thing they are going to be told is “WE ALREADY HAVE ONE.” And they will tell you to be different.
And younger people don’t have enough life experiences to be different. They have no boundries or experience to know that. They will write hundreds of songs which all sound exactly the same the same way because that is who they emulate. And they see others just like them and think that is the way to go. It is not.

You have to find your own way. And emulating someone else is not it. It takes time to develop that, which is why most people burn out. You know how younger people are. They are very interested in EVERYTHING. For a little while. Then, it is on to something else. The Industry likes younger people because it will take years to develop them, and by the time they get into their peak opportunity years, 19-23, they will be ready. Many more young ones are signed but almost none of them survive for very long. This business is very harsh, and if you were to tell them the truth (“Hey, you are going to work day and night for 7-10 years, miss holidays, work on your birthday, give up any semblance of a real life, live on the road, miss meals, be bullied by venue owners, be pulled in fifty different directions FAR away from what YOU want, have all your personality changed, be “re-imaged” dozens of times, people not paying you, standing in line for days to perform for no one, spend money you don’t have, run up enormous credit card bills, end up with possible substance abuse and alcohol problems, AND then you may not get anything from it”,) they tend to look at things differently.

But that is what it is. Some are able to manage it and stay with it long enough for things to happen. Most are very interested for about 2-3 years. Then fade out. The Nashvillians, go to writers nights and open mics, trying to get heard, attend seminars, workshops, write and record songs, try to work with people who don’t want to work with them, and fight for attention always wondering “What’s next?” only to find out, THIS IS NEXT. This is what you do. And it goes on forever. It never stops. There is no “resting on laurels. It is all onto the next song, the next show, the next interview.

What I would suggest to you for your daughter is to get out of the living room. Start going to writers nights in Nashville. See the hundreds and thousands of others that are coming to this town every week and month. See what they are doing. See where they are failing. Constantly update what you are doing. Expect the months and years to go by with very little results. But you will find your own victories. When she is performing out, when she gets better opportunities, when she is talked about in circles as “The next big thing.” Mostly let her grow up and experience this life and business. Don’t take it too seriously. Never let your highs be too high, or lows be too low.

The Taylor’s come and go. They always do. There will be someone else. You would like that someone to be you. But remember there are a LOT of people out there trying to do this. There are an estimated 30 million artists on the net and one billion songs a month uploaded. So it is INCREDIBLY HARD to get and keep attention which is the name of the game. And it is much harder in a town that has such continuous oversaturation. I actually tell the artists I work with NOT to move to Nashville until they have a reason to move to Nashville. Stay out there and build fan base. Nashville doesn’t need more writers or artists.
But you have to keep working your way, moving forward and working within the industry. At first she will be way too young and sound like everyone else. That will change as she grows, changes physically, vocally and emotionally.

Be patient. This is a long distance marathon relay. Not a sprint. Patience is everything.

Good luck. I’m always around if you need me.

Marc-Alan Barnette

Leave a comment

Please or register to post.

Add comment