K. Lovisa
K. Lovisa Hogstrom

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Taylor Swift Launches New App; Why it’s an Issue

My sister and I do our makeup every morning together via Facetime. We talk about our days, makeup, music and random things my sister will see on Twitter.

This morning I received the most startling news.

Taylor Swift is launching her own social media platform, titled "The Swift Life," geared towards her fans to connect with each other and of course, Taylor herself. To be honest, this platform sounds a lot like the Taylor Swift hashtag on Tumblr.

This platform is being launched to coincide with Swift’s next album, “Reputation,” due November 10.

The issue I have with this platform stems from my issue with Swift’s actions in the past regarding her fans. Though the Swift Life is being promoted as a platform for Swift’s fans to create a community and interact with Swift herself, I expect this to be an exercise in controlling the messages and creative ideas in relation to her music and brand. This expectation is based on past events life when Swift sued her fans on Etsy, her attempt to trademark common phrases because they happened to appear in her songs, her push to be the victim of every relationship ever or her fallout with Katy Perry. All of which stem from Swift’s apparent need to control her music, image and limit derivative works at the expense of others.

Where Taylor Swift’s PR Team Went Wrong

The issue I have with her PR team is their disregard of Swift’s past actions as an attempt to create false community and trust.

Taylor swift is creating this platform under the pretense of celebrating artists and encouraging shared art, but her true intentions are clearly to control and limit derivative works inspired by her music.

Swift has come under fire in the past for her actions towards fans, including in 2015, when she sued a group of fans for selling handmade products on the online platform, Etsy. The fans were asked to stop producing products with the phrase “Shake It Off” after receiving formal letters from Swift’s legal team.

The fallout of this focused primarily on Swift’s intention to protect her song and generally overlooked the fan’s intentions to celebrate their favorite artist through personal creations. A shirt on Etsy with the phrase “Shake It Off” would not have hindered the sales of her hit song. The only outcome would be a sense of shared community between her fans – who are simply celebrating their favorite artist through the creation of original art- and Taylor Swift. Which coincidently is what the public relations team is promoting the Swift Life of accomplishing.

This conflict between past and present strategies is going to cause serious PR whiplash.

The Real Reason

Taylor Swift appears to be a control freak, and for good reason. The music industry is made up of people who wish to take control of others and it takes a strong, independent person to be successful.

But Swift’s control has historically been aimed at fans, online communities, and artists.

So, it’s hard not to assume this platform is a poorly disguised attempt to control what others are saying or creating in relation to her music.

The direct conflict between these two versions of Swift lacks cohesion for her audience. Public relations specialists have an ethical duty to deliver the information needed so the public can make sound decisions and build trust. This platform celebrates a false reality that ignores Swift’s past actions towards her fans and artists as well as attempts to establish a false sense of trust to gain control and limit creativity.

A platform that is built on a poorly veiled attempt to control all messaging about oneself can only fail in the end because it will stagnate the culture within the community it is attempting to build.