Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. One of the world's leading contemporary recording artists, she is known for narrative songs about her personal life, which have received widespread media coverage.
At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to New York City for vocal and acting lessons. Swift later shifted her focus toward country music inspired by Shania Twain's songs, which made her "want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything". She spent her weekends performing at local festivals and events. After watching a documentary about Faith Hill, Swift felt sure that she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a music career. At the age of eleven, she traveled with her mother to visit Nashville record labels and submitted a demo tape of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks karaoke covers. However, she was rejected since "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different".
When Swift was about 12 years old, computer repairman and local musician Ronnie Cremer taught her how to play guitar and helped with her first efforts as a songwriter, leading to her writing "Lucky You". In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. With his help, Swift modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included on a Maybelline compilation CD, and attended meetings with major record labels. After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, Swift was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville with her mother.
To help Swift break into country music, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch when she was 14, and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift attended Hendersonville High School, but after two years transferred to the Aaron Academy, which through homeschooling could accommodate her touring schedule, and she graduated a year early.
2004–2008: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift
In Nashville, Swift worked with experienced Music Row songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally, and The Warren Brothers. She eventually formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose. They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school. Rose thought that the sessions were "some of the easiest I've ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She'd write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she'd come in with the most incredible hooks". Swift was signed by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house, but left RCA Records when she was 14. She later recalled: "I genuinely felt that I was running out of time. I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through".
Swift was at an industry showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe in 2005 when she caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive who was preparing to form his own independent record label, Big Machine Records. She had met Borchetta in 2004. Swift became one of the first signings, and her father purchased a three percent stake in the fledgling company at an estimated cost of $120,000. She began working on her eponymous debut album shortly after signing the record deal, and persuaded Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman, with whom she felt she had the right "chemistry". Swift wrote three of the album's songs alone, and co-wrote the remaining eight with writers Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher, and Angelo Petraglia.Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times described it as "a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, both wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Ms. Swift's firm, pleading voice".Taylor Swift peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the United States and spent 157 weeks on the ranking, marking the longest stay on the chart by any release in the country in the 2000s decade. As of August 2016 the album has sold over 7.75 million copies worldwide.
Big Machine Records was still in its infancy during the June 2006 release of the lead single, "Tim McGraw", and Swift and her mother helped "stuff the CD singles into envelopes to send to radio". She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift with a radio tour and television appearances. Borchetta has said that record industry peers disliked his signing of a 16-year-old singer-songwriter at first, but that Swift tapped into a previously unknown market—teenage girls who listen to country music. Following "Tim McGraw", four more singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All were highly successful on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in the United States, with "Our Song" and "Should've Said No" both reaching number one. For the former, Swift became the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the chart. "Teardrops on My Guitar" became a moderate commercial success, reaching number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in the United States. Swift also released the holiday album Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in October 2007 and the EP Beautiful Eyes in July 2008. She promoted her debut album extensively as the opening act for other artists on their tours.
Swift's second studio album, Fearless, was released on November 11, 2008. The lead single, "Love Story", was released in September 2008. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in Australia. Four more singles were released throughout 2008 and 2009: "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen" and "Fearless". "You Belong with Me" was the album's highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number two. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was the top-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album received promotion from Swift's first concert tour, the Fearless Tour, which grossed over $63 million.Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray. Swift also performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban's Escape Together World Tour.
At the 52nd Grammy Awards, Fearless was named Album of the Year and Best Country Album, and "White Horse" was named Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Swift was the youngest artist ever to win Album of the Year. During the ceremony, Swift sang "You Belong with Me" and "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks. Her vocal performance received negative reviews and a media backlash. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times found it "refreshing to see someone so gifted make the occasional flub" and described Swift as "the most important new pop star of the past few years". Swift became the youngest ever artist to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association.Fearless also won the Association's Album of the Year award.
Swift made her acting debut in a 2009 episode of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, playing a rebellious teenager. The New York Times noted that the character allowed Swift to be "a little bit naughty, and credibly so". Later that year, Swift both hosted and performed as the musical guest for an episode of Saturday Night Live.Entertainment Weekly described her as "this season's best Saturday Night Live host so far", noting that she "was always up for the challenge, seemed to be having fun, and helped the rest of the cast nail the punchlines". Later in 2010, she briefly dated actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
2010–2014: Speak Now and Red
In August 2010, Swift released "Mine", the lead single from her third studio album, Speak Now. It entered the United States at number three, making Swift the second female artist in the history of the Hot 100 (after Mariah Carey) to debut multiple tracks in the top five in one year; the other was "Today Was a Fairytale" at number two. Swift wrote the album alone and co produced every track.Speak Now, released on October 25, 2010, was a commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, and becoming the 16th album to achieve opening week sales of one million copies. It became the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist, with 278,000 downloads in a week, earning Swift an entry in the 2010 Guinness World Records. She earned another Guinness World Record entry after she became the first woman to achieve 10 track debuts on the Billboard Hot 100. Three of the album's singles, "Mine", "Back to December", and "Mean", peaked in the top ten in Canada.
"Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Swift performed the song during the ceremony. Claire Suddath of Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance"; Jayme Deerwester of USA Today wrote that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer". Swift won various other awards for Speak Now, including Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association (2010 and 2011), Woman of the Year by Billboard (2011), and Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music (2011 and 2012) and the Country Music Association in 2011. At the American Music Awards of 2011, Swift won Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album.Rolling Stone placed Speak Now at number 45 in its 2012 list of the "50 Best Female Albums of All Time", writing: "She might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days, with a flawless ear for what makes a song click."
Red was released on October 22, 2012, incorporating new genres for Swift, such as heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop. The album was a critical and commercial success, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies. This marked the highest opening sales in a decade in the United States, and made Swift the first female to have two million-selling album openings, a record recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.The Red Tour ran from March 2013 to June 2014 and grossed over $150 million.Red earned several accolades, including four nominations at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Its single "I Knew You Were Trouble" won Best Female Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Swift was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and Artist of the Year at the 2013 ceremony. She received the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist Award for the fifth and sixth consecutive years in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Swift was also honored by the Association with a special Pinnacle Award, making her the second recipient of the accolade after Garth Brooks.
In March 2014, Swift relocated to New York City. Around this time, she was working on her fifth studio album, 1989, with writers Antonoff, Max Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, Ryan Tedder, and Ali Payami. She promoted the album through various campaigns, including inviting fans to secret album-listening sessions, called the "1989 Secret Sessions". Credited as her "first documented, official pop album", it marked a departure from her previous country albums. The album was released on October 27, 2014 to positive reviews.
Swift at the 1989 World Tour, which grossed $250 million and became one of the highest-grossing tours of the decade
1989 sold 1.28 million copies in the US during the first week of release and debuted atop the Billboard 200—this made Swift the first act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in their opening release week, for which she earned a Guinness World Record. As of June 2017, 1989 had sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The album's lead single, "Shake It Off", was released in August 2014 and debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also generated two additional number-one singles—"Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" (featuring Kendrick Lamar)—as well as the top-ten entries "Style" and "Wildest Dreams", and other singles "Out of the Woods" and "New Romantics". "Shake It Off", "Blank Space", and "Bad Blood" also topped the charts in Australia and Canada. After "Blank Space" reached number-one in the US following "Shake It Off", Swift became the first woman in the Hot 100's history to succeed herself at the top spot. The music video for the former briefly became the fastest video to reach one billion views on Vevo. The videos for "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" won four accolades at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, with the latter winning for Video of the Year and Best Collaboration. Swift's headlining tour, the 1989 World Tour, running from May to December 2015, grossed over $250 million, and became one of the highest grossing tours of the decade.
Swift was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2014, becoming the first artist to win the award twice. Also that year, she received the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards. In 2015, "Shake It Off" was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year and Swift won the Brit Award for International Female Solo Artist. Swift was one of eight artists to receive a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the 2015 Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2016, Swift won three Grammy Awards for 1989—Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Music Video for "Bad Blood". She became the first woman, and fifth act overall, to win the first of these twice.
Prior to 1989's release, Swift stressed the importance of albums to artists and fans. In November 2014, she removed her entire catalog from Spotify, arguing that the streaming company's ad-supported, free service undermined the premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters. In a June 2015 open letter, Swift criticized Apple Music for not offering royalties to artists during the streaming service's free three-month trial period and stated that she would pull 1989 from the catalog. The following day, Apple announced that it would pay artists during the free trial period, and Swift agreed to stream 1989 on the streaming service. Swift's intellectual property rights management and holding company, TAS Rights Management, filed for 73 trademarks related to Swift and the 1989 era memes. She re-added her entire catalog to Spotify, Amazon Music and Google Play in June 2017.
In early 2017, Swift began dating English actor Joe Alwyn. That August, Swift sued and prevailed in a civil trial against David Mueller, a former morning show personality for Denver's KYGO-FM. Four years earlier, Swift had informed Mueller's bosses that he had sexually assaulted her by groping her at an event. After being fired, Mueller accused Swift of lying and sued her for making him lose his job. Shortly after, Swift counter-sued for sexual assault. The jury rejected Mueller's claims and ruled in favor of Swift. Swift thereafter cleared her social media accounts and released "Look What You Made Me Do" as the lead single from her sixth album, Reputation. The song topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its music video gained over 43.2 million views during its first day on YouTube, breaking the site's record for the most-viewed music video within 24 hours. In October, Swift released the album's second single, "...Ready for It?", which charted at number three in Australia and at number four in the United States.
Two promotional singles were released from Reputation, "Gorgeous" and "Call It What You Want"; the former later became the album's fifth single, however only being released as such in Europe. The album was released on November 10 and sold 1.216 million copies in the United States—becoming 2017's top-selling album (pure sales only) in the country—and 2 million copies worldwide during its first week. With this achievement, she became the first act to have four albums sell one million copies within one week in the US. The album topped the charts in several countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and Canada. Later that month, Swift performed "...Ready for It?" and "Call It What You Want" on Saturday Night Live. "End Game", featuring Ed Sheeran and Future, followed in November as the third single, and peaked at number 18 in the US. Other singles from the album include "New Year's Day" and "Delicate"; the former of which was released exclusively to country radio.Reputation was her last album with Big Machine Records, as her contract of 12 years with the record label expires in November 2018.
One of Swift's earliest musical memories is listening to her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, sing in church. As a child, she enjoyed Disney film soundtracks: "My parents noticed that, once I had run out of words, I would just make up my own". Swift has said she owes her confidence to her mother, who helped her prepare for class presentations as a child. She also attributes her "fascination with writing and storytelling" to her mother. Swift was drawn to the storytelling of country music, and was introduced to the genre by "the great female country artists of the '90s"—Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the Dixie Chicks. Twain, both as a songwriter and performer, was her biggest musical influence. Hill was Swift's childhood role model: "Everything she said, did, wore, I tried to copy it". She admired the Dixie Chicks' defiant attitude and their ability to play their own instruments. The band's "Cowboy Take Me Away" was the first song Swift learned to play on the guitar. Swift also explored the music of older country stars, including Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette. She believes Parton is "an amazing example to every female songwriter out there".Alt-country artists such as Ryan Adams,Patty Griffin and Lori McKenna have inspired Swift.
Swift lists Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones,Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Carly Simon as her career role models: "They've taken chances, but they've also been the same artist for their entire careers". McCartney, both as a Beatle and a solo artist, makes Swift feel "as if I've been let into his heart and his mind ... Any musician could only dream of a legacy like that". She admires Springsteen for being "so musically relevant after such a long period of time". She aspires to be like Harris as she grows older: "It's not about fame for her, it's about music". "[Kristofferson] shines in songwriting ... He's just one of those people who has been in this business for years but you can tell it hasn't chewed him up and spat him out", Swift says. She admires Simon's "songwriting and honesty ... She's known as an emotional person but a strong person".
Swift's music contains elements of pop, pop rock, and country. She described herself as a country artist until the 2014 release of 1989, which she described as a "sonically cohesive pop album".Rolling Stone wrote: "[Swift] might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days." According to The New York Times, "There isn't much in Ms. Swift's music to indicate country—a few banjo strums, a pair of cowboy boots worn onstage, a bedazzled guitar—but there's something in her winsome, vulnerable delivery that's unique to Nashville".The Guardian wrote that Swift "cranks melodies out with the pitiless efficiency of a Scandinavian pop factory".
Swift's vocals were described by Sophie Schillaci of The Hollywood Reporter as "sweet, but soft". The Los Angeles Times identified Swift's "defining" vocal gesture in studio recordings as "the line that slides down like a contented sigh or up like a raised eyebrow, giving her beloved girl-time hits their air of easy intimacy".Rolling Stone, in a Speak Now review, wrote: "Swift's voice is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer; she lowers her voice for the payoff lines in the classic mode of a shy girl trying to talk tough." In another review of Speak Now, The Village Voice wrote that her phrasing was previously "bland and muddled, but that's changed. She can still sound strained and thin, and often strays into a pitch that drives some people crazy; but she's learned how to make words sound like what they mean."The Hollywood Reporter wrote that her live vocals are "fine", but they do not match those of her peers. In 2009, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described Swift's vocals as "flat, thin, and sometimes as wobbly as a newborn colt". However, Swift has received praise for refusing to correct her pitch with Auto-Tune.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Swift characterized herself primarily as a songwriter: "I write songs, and my voice is just a way to get those lyrics across." A writer for The Tennessean conceded in 2010 that Swift is "not the best technical singer", but described her as the "best communicator that we've got". Swift's vocal presence is something that concerns her and she has "put a lot of work" into improving it. It was reported in 2010 that she continues to take vocal lessons. She has said that she only feels nervous performing "if I'm not sure what the audience thinks of me, like at award shows".
Swift uses her life experiences as an inspiration in her work. In her songs, Swift often addresses the "anonymous crushes of her high school years" and celebrities. Swift frequently criticizes ex-boyfriends, an aspect of her songwriting downplayed by The Village Voice: "Being told What Songs Mean is like having a really pushy professor. And it imperils a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic." However, New York believes the media scrutiny over her decision to "mine her personal life for music ... is sexist, inasmuch as it's not asked of her male peers". Swift said that not all her songs are factual and that they are sometimes based on observations. Aside from her liner note clues, Swift tries not to talk about song subjects specifically "because these are real people. You try to give insight as to where you were coming from as a writer without completely throwing somebody under the bus".
Swift during her Speak Now World Tour in Pittsburgh, 2011
For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated—a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way—that's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.
— Swift in response to criticism of her songwriting
The Guardian has praised Swift for writing about teenage years "with a kind of wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia" over the course of her first two albums.New York has remarked that many singer-songwriters have made great records as teens, but "none made great records so explicitly about their teens". The magazine has also compared her work to Brian Wilson. In Fearless, Swift featured fairy tale imagery and explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love". Her later albums address more adult relationships. In addition to romance and love, Swift's songs have discussed parent-child relationships, friendships, alienation, fame, and career ambitions. Swift frequently includes "a tossed-off phrase to suggest large and serious things that won't fit in the song, things that enhance or subvert the surface narrative".
Rolling Stone describes Swift as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture". According to The Village Voice, she uses third-verse point of view reversals frequently. In terms of imagery, repetition is evident in Swift's songwriting. In The Guardian's words, "she spends so much time kissin' in the rain that it seems a miracle she hasn't developed trenchfoot".Slant Magazine adds, "to Swift's credit, she explores new lyrical motifs over the course of [her fourth] album". Although reviews of Swift's work are "almost uniformly positive", The New Yorker has said she is generally portrayed "more as a skilled technician than as a Dylanesque visionary".
Swift's personal life is the subject of constant media attention. In 2013, Abercrombie & Fitch marketed a slogan T-shirt with a "slut-shaming" remark directed toward her.The New York Times asserted that her "dating history has begun to stir what feels like the beginning of a backlash" and questioned whether Swift was in the midst of a "quarter-life crisis". Swift has said that she is unwilling to discuss her personal life in public, as she believes that talking about it can be "a career weakness".
Swift at the 2010 Time 100 Gala, where she was honored
Rolling Stone remarks upon her polite manner: "If this is Swift's game face, it must be tattooed on because it never drops." The magazine also takes note of her "ease with glad-handing", and The Hollywood Reporter credits her as "the Best People Person since Bill Clinton". While presenting Swift an award for her humanitarian endeavors in 2012, Michelle Obama described her as a singer who "has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps her feet on the ground, someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year-old can accomplish". Swift considers Michelle Obama to be a role model. Swift is one of the most followed people on social media, and is known for her friendly interactions with her fans. She has delivered holiday gifts to fans by mail and in person, dubbed "Swiftmas". She considers it her "responsibility" to be conscious of her influence on young fans, and has said that her fans are "the longest and best relationship I have ever had".
Often described by the media as "America's Sweetheart", Swift insists that "I don't live by all these rigid, weird rules that make me feel all fenced in. I just like the way that I feel like, and that makes me feel very free". She refuses to take part in overly sexualized photo-shoots, although Bloomberg L.P. views her as a sex symbol. Swift was named an Icon of American Style by Vogue in 2011. In 2014 she topped People's annual best dressed list. In 2015, she was named Woman of the Year at the Elle Style Awards, and ranked first in Maxim's Hot 100 list.
Swift has also appeared in various power listings. Due to her success and earnings, she was included in Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in 2010 and 2015. From 2011 to 2015, she appeared in the top three of the Forbes Top-Earning Women in Music with earnings of $45 million, $57 million, $55 million, $64 million and $80 million respectively. In 2015, she became the youngest woman ever to be included on Forbes'100 most powerful women list, ranked at number 64. In 2016, Swift topped Forbes' annual list of the 100 highest-paid celebrities with $170 million—a feat that entered the Guinness World Records—and also ranked among the top ten in 2011, 2013 and 2015. She was one of the finalists for Time Person of the Year in 2014, and was named so in 2017 as part of the "Silence Breakers" who spoke up about sexual assault. In June 2017, Forbes estimated Swift's net worth to be $280 million.
In August 2018, Forbes updated their estimate of Swift's net worth to be $320 million.
Swift's philanthropic efforts have been recognized by the Do Something Awards and the Tennessee Disaster Services. She has also received The Big Help Award for her "dedication to helping others" and "inspiring others through action", and the Ripple of Hope Award because of her "dedication to advocacy at such a young age […] Taylor is just the kind of woman we want our daughters to be". In 2008, she donated $100,000 to the Red Cross to help the victims of the Iowa flood of 2008. Swift has performed in charity reliefs including Sydney's Sound Relief concert. She also recorded a song for the Hope for Haiti Now album. In response to the May 2010 Tennessee floods, Swift donated $500,000 during a telethon hosted by WSMV. In 2011, Swift used a dress rehearsal of her Speak Now tour as a benefit concert for victims of recent tornadoes in the United States, raising more than $750,000. In 2012, Swift supported Architecture for Humanity's Restore the Shore MTV telethon in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In 2016, she made donations to the Louisiana flood relief and Dolly Parton Fire Fund.
Swift is a supporter of the arts and donated $75,000 to Nashville's Hendersonville High School in 2010 to help refurbish the school auditorium. In 2012, she pledged $4 million to fund the building of a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Also in 2012, Swift partnered with textbook rental company Chegg to donate $60,000 to the music departments of six US colleges. Swift also promotes children's literacy. In 2009, she donated $250,000 to various schools around the country for improvement of education. Her other endeavors to promote literacy include donating 6,000 Scholastic books to Reading Public Library, Pennsylvania; 14,000 books to Nashville Public Library, Tennessee; 2,000 Scholastic books to the Reading Hospital Child Health Center's early literacy program; and 25,000 books to New York City schools in 2015.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Swift promoted the Every Woman Counts campaign, aimed at engaging women in the political process, and was one of many country stars to record a PSA for the Vote (For Your) Country campaign. She stated: "I don't think it's my job to try and influence people which way they should vote." Following Barack Obama's inauguration, she told Rolling Stone that she supported the president: "I've never seen this country so happy about a political decision in my entire time of being alive. I'm so glad this was my first election."
In a 2012 interview, Swift remarked that in spite of keeping herself "as educated and informed as possible", she does not discuss politics, fearing that it might influence other people. Writing about media pressure on Swift to publicly take political stances, Politico called Swift "studiously apolitical". Swift has spent time with the Kennedy family and has spoken of her admiration for Ethel Kennedy. Swift is also a feminist. She has spoken out against LGBT discrimination. Following the 2008 murder of Larry King, she recorded a GLSEN PSA to combat hate crimes. On the first anniversary of King's death, Swift told Seventeen that her parents taught her "never to judge others based on whom they love, what color their skin is, or their religion". The music video for Swift's anti-bullying song "Mean" deals in part with homophobia in high schools; the video was nominated for an MTV VMA social activism award in 2011.The New York Times believes she is part of "a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages".
Prior to the 2018 midterm elections, Swift endorsed candidates for public office for the first time, declaring her support for two Democratic candidates: Congressman Jim Cooper for re-election to the House of Representatives, and former Governor of TennesseePhil Bredesen for election to the Senate. She spoke out against Bredesen's opponent, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, stating that her voting record "appalled" and "terrified" her. She expressed her desire for LGBT rights and gender and racial equality, and condemned systemic racism.Vote.org, mentioned in Swift's post, reported that 65,000 people registered to vote in the 24 hours following Swift's post, an unprecedented surge even accounting for usual registration increases as deadlines approach. During Swift's acceptance speech for Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards of 2018, she encouraged her fans to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
While promoting her fourth album, Red, Swift offered exclusive album promotions through Target,Papa John's Pizza, and Walgreens. She became a spokesmodel for Diet Coke and Keds sneakers, released her third Elizabeth Arden fragrance named Taylor by Taylor Swift, and continued her partnerships with Sony Electronics and American Greetings. Swift also partnered with the companies AirAsia and Qantas during the Red Tour. These acted as the official airlines for the Australian and Asian legs, and Cornetto sponsored the Asian leg of the tour. While promoting 1989, Swift had tie-ins with Subway, Keds, Target and Diet Coke. In 2014, Swift released her fourth fragrance, Incredible Things.
In 2016, Swift signed a multi-year deal with AT&T; she later headlined DirecTV's Super Saturday Night, the night prior to the 2017 Super Bowl. While promoting Reputation, Swift released a series of behind the scenes videos showing the album recording process through DirecTV. In 2018, Swift released two commercials for AT&T. Swift partnered with Fujifilm on a special-edition autographed Instax camera, which includes a selfie-mode and double exposure, to be released in October 2018.
By the beginning of 2016, Swift had sold more than 40 million albums, 130 million single downloads and was one of the top five music artists with the highest worldwide digital sales. Swift's studio albums Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989 have all sold over 4 million copies in the US. She is the third best-selling digital singles artist in the US with a total of 106.5 million equivalent units certified according to Recording Industry Association of America.
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