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10 Artists Who Have Stood Up For Women In Music: Taylor Swift, Lizzo & More
Through voice, advocacy and creative endeavors, the music industry has become a safer, happier place for women to thrive — but there is still much work to be done. Read how artists such as Lizzo, Taylor Swift and Alicia Keys have stood up for women.
It would be painful to even imagine the music industry without the contributions of women, many of whom have long been subjected to systemic sexism, double-standards, subtle dismissing, and blatant injustices throughout their careers in music. This inequality has been brought to the spotlight in recent years, as movements such as Me Too and Times Up empowered women to tell their stories and make profound changes to protect others.
The following artists stood up for themselves and, in doing so, have set an example and blazed the trail for others to do the same. In taking a stance against misogyny and inequity, both female and male artists are working to shape the music industry into a more inclusive, safe place for all artists to create and thrive.
Taylor Swift fought sexism on multiple fronts
Taylor Swift has enjoyed successes that few in the music industry can touch. She was the first woman to win the GRAMMY for Album of the Year three times, and has been nominated in the category once again for evermore at the 64th GRAMMY Awards. Nevertheless, she has often been the target of sexism in her extraordinary career.
While Swift started in the music industry as a teenager, she noticed the sexism as she grew older and more successful. She was mercilessly critiqued for writing about her feelings and relationships, while male musicians who do the same thing were rarely challenged. In her early 20s, Swift said she was "slut shamed" for having a few relationships; others romantically linked Swift to people whom she’d only sat next to at a party. What most upset her was realizing that they were reducing her songwriting to being a trick, rather than a skill and a craft.
Swift has fought back through words, actions and art, and received praise for her efforts from feminist icon Dolly Parton. She has also written open letters for other artists who are experiencing injustice — including publicly demanding that Apple Music pay the artists during the trial period of the platform. Apple Music ultimately did as she asked. Swift has also stood up for individual women in music, and they have done the same ultimately strengthening their collective power.
Taylor Swift’s voice is strong within her music, too. "The Man", a song on her album Lover, looks at how much differently the music industry and society would have treated her if she was a man. In Miss Americana, the acclaimed 2020 documentary on Taylor Swift, she discusses the double-standards for women in music, pointing out how female artists must reinvent and reimagine their image.
Lizzo combated erasure by being unabashedly herself
Lizzo has tirelessly stood up for Black women in music. In an interview with "Good Morning America" in August 2021, she explained that, although Black women have long been innovators in the music industry, they suffer from marginalization and erasure the most. Lizzo added that she might have been erased if not for social media and the internet.
Lizzo is also quick to defend other musical artists and stand up for what’s right. She corrected the paparazzi for using the wrong pronouns when referencing Demi Lovato. In turn, Demi responded by calling Lizzo a queen and sincerely thanking her.
Blazing a trail for herself and other artists can’t be easy, but Lizzo is determined to set an example of confidence, authenticity and beauty. In addition to facing racism and sexism, Lizzo has also faced criticism for her body type, yet she responds to all that with confidence and self-love. She told People, "What I'm doing is stepping into my confidence and my power to create my own beauty standard. And one day that will just be the standard."
Brandi Carlile created space for women in country music
Speaking up for women in music is an important part of life for Brandi Carlile. As she told Billboard, "I wake up every day political. I can’t not be political."
Along with fellow artists Amanda Shires and Maren Morris, Carlile started the Highwomen to mentor and support fellow female musicians, according to Rolling Stone. She also co-founded the Looking Out Foundation, which funds lesser-known causes and organizations to amplify the impact of music by empowering those without a voice."
Carlile has also taken to social media for activism. When Country Music Television announced that it would promote equal play, offering "complete parity between male and female artists" on its channels, she tweeted a challenge for country radio to do the same.
Madonna broke the mold and challenged expectations of older women
It’s often said that Madonna was ahead of her time, but she changed the times to fit her message and voice (the New York Times tallied 60 times Madonna changed culture). When her career first skyrocketed in the 1980s, Madonna redefined what it meant to be a powerful woman in music in many ways, and has since continued to challenge sexism in the music industry and beyond.
Madonna has repeatedly called out the rampant ageism against women in music, which has impacted how she has been perceived and treated. However, the woman who broke barriers and created boundary-pushing music believes the most controversial thing she has done is stick around when the music industry would otherwise consider her too old.
Madonna hopes to help empower other women to embrace and celebrate their bodies, talents and selves at all ages and stages of their lives. That’s part of why she doesn’t hesitate to call out anyone who mocks her or others for not adhering to the music industry's expectations of women as they age.
Alicia Keys' nonprofit encourages women in music
Alicia Keys has long been a musical force to be reckoned with and she co-founded the organization She Is The Music to help empower other women in music. The nonprofit has thrived since 2018, and it operates as a "unifying organization for women from across the industry, creating strength and impact on a global scale. On a practical level, it helps increase the number of women working in the music industry and also strives to help future generations of women develop their careers.
Keys has written and performed many empowering songs, including "Girl on Fire." She referenced that song when announcing the launch of She Is The Music, stating, "We are more on fire than we’ve ever been."
Janet Jackson stood in her power and inspired others
With her GRAMMY-nominated album Control and hit song of the same name, Janet Jackson inspired millions of women beginning in the late '80s. "Control" celebrates the joy and fulfillment of a woman standing in her power, while taking control of her own life. Jackson advocated for women in other songs, too, such as the 1993 hit "New Agenda" which frankly dealt with sexism and racism.
Jackson has paved the way for many other female artists to reach greater heights in the music industry, often using her spotlight to inspire and empower others. When she won the Global Icon Award at the MTV European Music Awards, Jackson explained that she feels moved to speak for women whose voices have been stifled, and she confessed that her voice used to be stifled as well.
When she won the Worldwide Inspiration Award at the Mnet Asian Music Awards in 2018, shememorably said, "I dream of the end of bigotry and discrimination in any form. I dream of a world in which we join hands across all borders and unite as one. Finally, I dream of a planet where hatred turns to compassion, tolerance turns to understanding, and a healing and lasting peace prevails."
Pink embodied feminism in her art and called for change
Pink started her career with a distinct voice and feminist attitude, and she has held fast to it throughout her growth as an artist. If anything, her feminist convictions and expressions have gotten stronger.
Pink has stood up for many other important causes, including animal rights, and she didn’t even back down to royalty. When Prince William invited her to perform for his 21st birthday, she rejected the gesture because he was a hunter. She even publicly called him out for killing animals for fun.
Pink has stood up for women in music on many occasions. In one of her early hits, she bemoaned that people in the music industry tried to pressure her to look as pretty as Britney Spears. More recently, Pink has said that she feels bad that she didn’t reach out more to Spears back then. Standing in solidarity with other women, she has also served as a UNICEF ambassador and often speaks up for what she feels is right.
Harry Styles strives for a world where feminism is the norm
Harry Styles is a feminist who chalks it up to simply being the right thing to do (and doesn’t want a lot of credit for it). Styles also grew up heavily influenced by his mom and his sister. Since the female influence in his life was so profound, Styles felt it was only natural to be a feminist; he considers the ideals of feminism to be pretty straightforward.
"Most of the stuff that hurts me about what's going on at the moment is not politics, it's fundamentals. Equal rights. For everyone, all races, sexes, everything," Styles told Rolling Stone. He tries to make things better in big and small ways — from the music he chooses to perform, to the words he uses on social media and in interviews. He has used social media to support things like the #HeForShe campaign, an initiative from UN Women to empower women.
Ariana Grande called out sexism and defied stereotypes
Ariana Grande chose to stand up for women in music and call out the massive sexism in the industry when she was named as Billboard’s Woman of the Year. She noted how female artists try so much harder, and spoke about how women are expected to fit into narrow stereotypes.
That wasn’t the first time Grande stood up for herself and other female performers. She's also encouraged others to do the same.
"I think the most important thing is to have each other’s backs. When you see something or hear something that’s upsetting, or someone says something that’s upsetting, even if it’s not to you, just say something and be there and support each other," Grande told Coveteur. "Misogyny is ever-present, and we have to be there to support one another. That’s really it. It’s about the sisterhood. There’s no competing in that. We have to lift each other up, not try and claw each other down."
Lady Gaga opposed ageism — in her twenties
The intersection of sexism and ageism is no joke, and women in music feel it early on. In fact, Lady Gaga was speaking out about it in her twenties. She declared, "I want to show women they don’t need to try to keep up with the 19-year-olds and the 21-year-olds in order to have a hit. Women in music, they feel like they need to f-cking sell everything to be a star. It’s so sad. I want to explode as I go into my thirties."
Happily, Lady Gaga did just that, and her success has only grown. Meanwhile, she has continued to lift other artists up. She praised Britney Spears for forever changing the course for women in music; in turn, Spears called Lady Gaga her "inspiration."
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Everything We Know About The 'Barbie' Soundtrack: New Dua Lipa Song, Release Date, Artist Lineup, All The 'Barbie' Songs & More
Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, Gayle, Haim, and — surprisingly — Ryan Gosling also feature on the soundtrack to 'Barbie' — the buzzy, plasticine summer flick.
When the second Barbie teaser landed like a hydrogen bomb made of memes, the world got the first inkling this would be a very musical movie.
That was by way of the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun," rendered chopped and screwed and vaguely menacing. ("Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!" the heavily altered Boys intone, over and over and over.) Now, it's clear that the sunny '60s hit was just, ahem, the tip of the iceberg.
As Rolling Stone reports, the Barbie soundtrack — known as Barbie The Album — will be a veritable toybox of the biggest pop stars today. Those are: Ava Max, Charli XCX, Dominic Fike, Dua Lipa, FIFTY FIFTY, GAYLE, HAIM, Ice Spice, Kali, Karol G, Khalid, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, PinkPantheress, Ryan Gosling (!), Tame Impala, and the Kid Laroi.
That's not even all of them — more artists will be announced closer to Barbie The Album's release date, on July 21. (That's also the day the film drops.) Until then, read on for everything we could find about the Barbie soundtrack… so far.
Mark Ronson Is The Executive Music Producer
The seven-time GRAMMY-winning record producer and songwriter, who's worked with everyone from Lady Gaga to Paul McCartney to Adele, is at the helm. "This Ken helped make a whole soundtrack," Ronson tweeted, acknowledging his involvement.
The Soundtrack Contains 17 Songs
That's as per Apple Music, which details the lion's share of the tracklist. (Tracks six and 11 are TBD). Check it out for very Barbie song titles like Lizzo's "Pink," Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken" and Dominic Fike's "Hey Blondie." And…
Barbie Girls, In A Barbie World
…yes, you read that right: Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice will team up with Aqua to perform "Barbie World" — a new version of the classic "Barbie Girl" song, which appears in the official trailer.
Dua Lipa's "Dance The Night" Is A Contender For The Centerpiece
On May 25, Dua Lipa dropped the official music video for "Dance the Night." (The three-time GRAMMY winner also plays Mermaid Barbie in the film.)
Aside from her 2022 collaborative track with Megan Thee Stallion, "Sweetest Pie," Lipa's been quiet since the Future Nostalgia era; "Dance the Night" captures the magic of hits like "Levitating" and cements her as the post-pandemic disco queen.
Something Is Happening With Lady Gaga
The official Barbie Twitter account seemingly confirmed rumors of Lady Gaga's involvement when they tweeted eye emojis at Gaga's promise of "something exciting." Wait and see, we suppose.
No Beach Boys Tunes Are Known To Be On The Soundtrack — Yet
It remains to be seen whether "Fun, Fun, Fun" will simply be a trailer song or play some key part in the film proper. With a catalog literally filled to the brim with beach-getaway bangers, they could play a key role in Barbie's musical world. Again: wait and see.
Nicki Minaj Is Here For A Very Good Reason
As Rolling Stone points out: what is Nicki Minaj's most famous persona? You guessed it. Expect the Harajuku Barbie to loom large on the soundtrack — and perhaps, at least spiritually, in the film.
Keep checking back as more details about the Barbie soundtrack come to light!
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Touring In A Post-Pandemic World: How Costs, Personnel & Festival Culture Have Affected 2023 Performances
The live music business is still dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic. GRAMMY.com spoke with a cross section of professionals about the industry's most profound changes, how they’re being addressed, and what it all might mean for the future.
The pandemic wreaked global havoc on many levels. Beyond the human toll, the disruptions brought on by the spread of COVID-19 caused deep and lasting damage to nearly every business sector, including live entertainment. Virtually overnight, workers lost their livelihoods, businesses closed their doors or drastically curtailed operations, and supply chains were hobbled.
Within days of lockdown, multiple outlets published sobering articles detailing the tours, concerts and festivals that had been affected by the outbreak; Insider.com article identified at least 170 postponements or cancellations. In a flash, every artist across the globe witnessed the live performance side of their careers vaporize. Crews were sent home, and all of the businesses that served the sector — logistics, audio gear, food service and more — found a barren landscape.
During the pandemic, major promoter Live Nation saw a drastic drop in the number of concerts and festivals under its banner: from over 40,000 events in 2019 to just over 8,000 in 2020. But by the end of 2022, Pollstar.com reported that the year’s top 100 tours sold approximately 59 million tickets — more than 2019's sales.
Three years after the beginning of the pandemic, life is in many ways returning to normal. Yet the costs associated with putting on a concert have risen dramatically, due to both the pandemic's inflationary pressures and a surge in demand for the goods and services necessary to sustain tours. For those working in and around the live music business, the "new normal" means some things work as they did before COVID-19 while others have altered radically — either temporarily or for good.
GRAMMY.com spoke with a cross section of industry professionals about some of the most profound changes, how they’re being addressed, and what it all might mean for the future.
New Touring Paradigms
With the return of live music has come a corresponding, pent-up surge in demand, notes Christy Castillo Butcher, Senior VP, Programming & Booking at the 70,000 seat SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. "To satiate that demand, you have to have a bigger venue."
In 2023 alone, SoFi Stadium is hosting several megashows: Billy Joel & Stevie Nicks, Grupo Firme, Romeo Santos, a five-night Taylor Swift residency, Metallica, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and P!nk are all on the venue’s calendar, with additional shows awaiting announcement. Madison Square Garden saw multiple sold-out performances by Janet Jackson, and will host a seven-night Phish residency.
Since the pandemic, some artists have taken different approaches to touring. Tandem tours and residencies are just two of the phenomena that seem to be increasing in popularity with touring artists and their management teams.
Teaming up for a tandem tour isn’t a new idea; package tours have been part of the concert landscape from the days of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars in the mid 1960s. And in an era when post-pandemic-related shortages and logistical snags make touring even more challenging, the practice is finding renewed interest.
One of the highest-profile tandem tours of 2023 is the ZZ Top/Lynyrd Skynyrd Sharp Dressed Simple Man tour. Visiting more than 22 cities across the U.S, the tour brings together three-time GRAMMY nominees ZZ Top with the popular Southern rock band.
"You want to give the fans the value of seeing two bands together," says Ross Schilling, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Tour Manager. (Pollstar reported an average ticket price for the top 100 North American tours in the first half of 2022 at more than $108. Meanwhile, ticket prices for megastars such as Beyoncé and Swift have reached astronomical levels.)
Schilling acknowledges that there are pros and cons for the artists as well. "You're sharing the expenses and the revenues," he notes, adding that the production is often halved. "Video, pyro, smoke, whatever kind of elements you want to add" can be shared on a tandem tour.
Read more: 5 Reasons Why Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Will Be The Most Legendary Of Her Generation
Another option experiencing a renaissance is the concert residency. "Residencies are not new, of course," says Phil Carson, a touring and management veteran who spent many years on the road with high-profile rock bands including Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, AC/DC and Yes. "They started with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. when there was really only one place to go: Las Vegas."
Today there are many more options, but the motivations are often the same as before. "Sammy, Dean Martin… all those guys wanted to hang out together, and didn't want to go on the bloody road," Carson explains. As their audiences grew older, they too were interested in the idea of going to one place to see their favorite performers.
And Carson thinks that the multi-night approach may well be part of a trend for the future. "We’re starting to get two-and three-night runs in casinos across America," he says. Adele, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood and Carlos Santana are just a few of the artists eschewing the road in favor of a series of dates in one venue.
The trend is extending to smaller venues as well. Singer/songwriter James McMutry and his band launched a residency at Austin' Continental Club in November 2021; that booking continues to the present day. And just last August, Robert Glasper announced a 48-show residency at the Blue Note Club in New York City; it’s his fourth extended run of dates at the famed jazz venue.
Festivals Return En Force
Following increased demand for live entertainment post-lockdown, major music festivals returned with a force in 2022 and continue to do so in 2023. Coachella and Lollapalooza were among the multi-day, multi-weekend events returning after COVID-forced cancellations, while mid-level events such as San Francisco's Outside Lands also saw over 220,000 attendees in 2022 — a major boon for a live music industry that had been in crisis only a year before.
Celebrating and featuring a multigenerational lineup of Latinx artists and performers, the Bésame Mucho Festival premiered in December 2022 at the 56,000 capacity Dodger Stadium. Tickets sold out within 70 minutes. The lineup for the 2023 event was announced in February; once again, the event sold out almost immediately.
Read more: Latin Music's Next Era: How New Festivals & Big Billings Have Helped Bring Reggaeton, New Corridos & More To The Masses
Ashley Capps has been wholly immersed in the festival scene; former head of AC Entertainment, for many years he oversaw the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. These days he has scaled back his activities but still curates the adventurous Big Ears Festival which he founded in 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
"The post-pandemic Big Ears has seen extraordinary growth," he says, noting a pre-COVID trajectory of growth, with an annual 20 percent increase in ticket sales. The 2022 Big Ears — the first after a two-year pause — experienced a 35 percent growth. "That led us to declare our first full-on sellout," he says, "five weeks before the festival happened."
In 2023, Big Ears noted another surge in ticket sales, surpassing 50 percent over the previous year. The multiple-venue festival added additional larger venues to accommodate the increased demand. Concertgoers "are certainly hungry to get back into the live music experience," Capps says. "And the artists we’re working with at Big Ears are eager to be back out and in front of appreciative audiences."
That pent-up demand on both sides of the equation can result in a crowded field, with many events — even beyond music — competing both for attention, staffing and gear.
The Cost Of Making Music
Global logistical bottlenecks that plagued every industry continue to take a toll on the live music industry. Worldwide economic inflation — which hit 8.8 percent in 2022, nearly doubling year-over-year, a partial result of the pandemic — has increased costs and cut profits, laying the groundwork for a "rocky road to recovery." Finding themselves without opportunities for work during the pandemic, untold numbers of skilled tour technicians left the business.
"People got out of the industry across the board, from musicians to agents to managers to bartenders to production staff," says Morgan Margolis, CEO/President of Knitting Factory Entertainment. "'I’ve got to do something else.' I saw a lot of that." Some never returned, causing a personnel shortage once live touring resumed.
All that affected live music venues, too. "We were shuffling around tour managers, production managers, box office personnel," says Margolis. He characterizes his company — active nationwide in venue operations, festivals, artist management, touring and more — as an "all hands on deck" operation. "I actually slung some drinks in Walla Walla at an Aaron Lewis concert," he says.
Increased costs mean it’s essential to run the leanest operation possible while maintaining quality. Margolis recalls the landscape when live music started coming back in 2022. "Vans and buses: everything was running out, even rental cars," he remembers. "And everything — generators, lighting rigs, staging rigs – was now 20-30 percent more expensive, because everybody was spread so thin."
But like many in the business, Margolis simply made the best of things. "Personally, I was excited to be on the ground again," he says. "I wanted to be around people."
After a nearly overwhelming surge of music artists getting back into live performance, he says that he is seeing a "more methodical" mindset taking hold. That compares to how he characterizes 2022: "Throw it all against the wall: we’re going everywhere!"
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Another new wrinkle: proposed rule changes by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would increase the costs to international musicians of obtaining a U.S. visa by as much as 260 percent. "The more these policies are made, the harder it is for us to share our music,” says Sampa the Great. The Zambian singer/songwriter and rapper notes that the proposed changes will hit independent artists especially hard: "Touring is the only way our music gets heard globally."
Such across-the-board cost increases can mean that some international artists have to have tough conversations. If not through touring, Sampa the Great wonders, "How else do we connect with the people who support our music? And how else do we independent artists sustain our careers making music?"
Schilling admits that during the worst of the shutdown, he thought about retiring — and so did one of his biggest clients. Skynyrd began a farewell tour in 2018, which was ultimately cut short by the pandemic, prompting serious soul searching. "When everyone’s livelihood was ripped out from under them, they decided 'We want to go out on our own terms.'" This year’s tandem tour with ZZ Top puts things right, Schilling adds.
That kind of thinking is widespread among the professionals who remain in the game post-COVID. From many working as venue owners to tour managers to crew to artists, the chance to get back on the road outweighs the challenges that they will inevitably encounter. There are many career paths easier than working in the live music industry, but few can compare with its rewards.
Changes Backstage And Post-Show
Before the pandemic, many touring artists arranged meet-and-greet sessions before or after their shows. They provided an opportunity for interaction between fans and artists, and represented an additional revenue stream for the artists. During the pandemic era, those sessions disappeared, even for the new shows that could still take place. Today, even while enforced social distancing has largely disappeared, the state of meet-and-greets is not what it was.
"My last three artists aren’t doing meet-and-greets, because there's still that concern of COVID," says David Norman, a longtime promoter, tour director, manager and accountant currently on tour with Evanescence; his past clients have included Prince, John Fogerty, Earth Wind & Fire, Green Day, Alicia Keys, Tyler, the Creator and many others.
Norman points out that his artists take a financial hit by eliminating the meet-and-greets. "But it’s better to be safe than sorry," he says, noting that a musician who tests positive for COVID can "shut down [performances] for weeks. Then you have to reroute [the tour], and refund money to people who aren’t able to come to rescheduled shows."
Others take a different approach. "Lynyrd Skynyrd will do meet-and-greets," says Schilling, adding that his team "wants to get back to as normal as we possibly can, as fast as we possibly can." André Cholmondeley is a musician, longtime tour manager and tech support professional who worked as guitar tech for Yes guitarist Steve Howe.
Before 2020, "if you bought the meet-and-greet package, you could shake their hands," he says. "There were lots of hugs and pictures." Now the experience involves more waving and fist-bumping. Foreigner, meanwhile, has recently swapped meet-and-greets for Q&A sessions. “Everybody has a great time, and the band is not bored with it because it's different every night," says Phil Carson, the band's Tour Manager.
Life away from the audience has changed, too.
"One major change across the board is the huge difference in catering," says Cholmondeley, who has recently toured with Pat Metheny and Ani DiFranco. Before COVID, touring artists and their crews would typically find a buffet backstage. "We order a lot more food now," Cholmondeley explains. "You get a couple of menus texted to you each day."
Carson notes that the band has found an alternative solution that works for them. "Our singer Kelly Hansen is a chef who won an episode of Food Network’s 'Chopped,'" he says with pride. "He's got a whole kitchen range on our tour bus. He makes breakfast, he makes tacos after the show."
Carson readily admits that such an approach stands in sharp contrast to rock‘n’roll road dining in the ‘70s. "Back then," he says with a hearty laugh, "it was a few lines of coke and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s!"
Bridging The Gap
Beginning in March 2020, the cancellations and disruptions brought upon by the pandemic reverberated throughout the live music industry. But as the business sector enters the third quarter of 2023, the focus is once again on the future, and guarded optimism is the prevailing perspective.
Festival season is officially underway, with Coachella wrapping up two weekends of massive-scale excitement, and a host of other events slated throughout the summer promising an active several months for touring musicians and crews. Taylor Swift's Eras tour is selling out fast, while Beyoncé's Renaissance tour has only just begun (to much fanfare, as expected). It seems as if touring as we once knew it is falling back into place.
Even with her focus on recording — she counts two albums, an EP, two mixtapes and nearly 30 singles — Sampa the Great emphasizes the appeal of live music for both audience and entertainer.
"Performing is the best way to connect with an audience," she says. "You're translating your music from audio to something visual, something physical. It bridges that gap from just hearing an artist or seeing them on social [media] to actually experiencing the artist."
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5 Reasons Why Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Will Be The Most Legendary Of Her Generation
Whether she's breaking records or breaking Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift has proven time and again that she's one of the most powerful figures in modern music — and the Eras Tour is a manifestation of that.
Since the moment Taylor Swift announced the Eras Tour, there was no denying that it was going to be the tour of the year. From playing impressive two- and three-night stands at stadiums across the country to crashing Ticketmaster upon just the presale, the Eras Tour was making headlines before it even began.
But after witnessing it in person, it's clear that Swift is not just delivering the tour of the year — it's the tour of her generation.
Sure, Beyoncé fans can't wait for her tour this summer; Harry Styles is about to embark on the final leg of his highly successful Love On Tour trek; BLACKPINK sold out stadiums around the country too. Yet, it's hard to imagine that any other tour this year will have a cultural impact as big as the Eras Tour — something that's wildly apparent whether or not you were there.
Even before Swift hit the stage for her first night at Nashville's Nissan Stadium on May 5, her influence was felt. Practically every fan of the 70,000 in attendance (a record for the venue — more on that later) was wearing some sort of reference to their favorite Swift era: a beloved lyric, or an iconic performance or music video look. While that's not necessarily a new trend in the Swiftie world, seeing all 10 of her eras represented throughout a stadium-sized crowd was equal parts meaningful and remarkable.
As someone who has been to hundreds of tours and most of Swift's — including the Reputation Tour, which I naively referred to as "the peak of her career" — I didn't think this one would feel much different than a typical stadium show. But even when Swift was just a few songs in of her impressive three-and-a-half hour set, a feeling came over me like I wasn't just watching one of music's greats — I was part of music history.
Below, here are five reasons why the Eras Tour will go down as one of the most iconic of Swift's generation.
It's Treated Like A Holiday
In the week leading up to the shows and over the weekend, Nashville was abundant with special events in Swift's honor. From Taylor-themed trivia nights to pre- and post-show dance parties to wine lists transformed into "eras," practically every place you went was commemorating her return (she last performed in Nashville in 2018).
While it's unclear whether this kind of takeover is happening in every city — after all, she does consider Nashville a hometown, as she said on stage — it's rare to see an artist have such a ripple effect by simply just coming to town.
During her May 5 show, Swift added to the excitement by sharing the highly anticipated news that Speak Now (Taylor's Version) was coming on July 7. Upon the announcement, three of Nashville's monuments — the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, the Tennessee State Capitol and the Alliance Bernstein building downtown — were illuminated in purple, the album's color.
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) on July 7th 😱 pic.twitter.com/gzRKvZrytw— Nissan Stadium (@NissanStadium) May 6, 2023
It's Breaking Records Left And Right
Though Swift is no stranger to breaking records, she continues to do so with the Eras Tour. After setting the all-time attendance record at Nissan Stadium on night one of her Nashville run, Swift topped herself (something has become accustomed to on the charts as well) with another attendance record on night two.
And despite the controversial ticketing frenzy the tour caused, Swift also broke a Ticketmaster record with more than 2.4 million tickets sold — the most by an artist in a single day — in the presale alone. If Swift announces an international leg of the tour, Pollstar projects that the Eras Tour could surpass $1 billion, which would add yet another first to her ever-growing list.
Take a bow, Swifties!— Nissan Stadium (@NissanStadium) May 7, 2023
Y’all just set the all-time Nissan Stadium concert attendance record for a SECOND STRAIGHT NIGHT! 😍#TSErasTourNashville pic.twitter.com/ZxBFlXCtqi
It's Spawned Parking Lot Parties
As if history-making attendance and record-breaking ticket sales aren't indication enough of Swift's power, the Eras Tour is so highly in-demand that fans are sitting outside of the venue to still be part of the show (as some fans have cleverly called it, "Taylorgating"). Fans crowded barricades and camped out in the parking lot of Nissan Stadium, ready to watch (and scream-sing along with) Swift on the big screen — something that has seemingly been happening in every city.
@lizabethvictor Dancing right there in the middle of the parking lot :’) @taylorswift @taylornation #tampatstheerastour #theerastour #taylorswift #taylorsversion #fearless ♬ original sound - elizabeth victor
It Can't Be Stopped By The Elements
Adding to the magnitude of the Eras Tour, Swift performs 45 songs across three and a half hours. And to make her last night in Nashville even more momentous, she did almost all of that in pouring rain.
Swift didn't get to take the stage until after 10 p.m. on May 7 because of storms in the area (she normally goes on around 7:50 local time), but that didn't mean she'd be shortening her set. Carrying on until after 1:30 a.m. — even through the "element of slippiness happening," as she joked — Swift made it clear that she's determined to give each show her all regardless of the weather.
Taylor having problems from the rain lol #TSErasTourNashville #TSTheErasTour pic.twitter.com/iH8pjrW7PP— Lindѕєy ✨NASHVILLE 5/5 & 5/7✨ (@lindzz_21) May 8, 2023
It's Simply A Feel-Good Celebration
Perhaps it was the five-year gap between the last time she toured. Perhaps it was the four new albums of material. Perhaps it was the celebratory nature of the show. Whatever inspired the vibe of the Eras Tour, I've never seen Taylor Swift or her fans so alive. The passion was tangible, the energy was magnetic.
Though Swift has always been known as an artist with a very loyal following, it was still mind-blowing to hear 70,000 people belt out every word for three hours straight. There aren't many artists whose catalogs are as equally beloved as they are extensive, especially one who hasn't even seen her 34th birthday. No matter how many albums and tours are in Swift's future, the Eras Tour captures a special moment in time — and celebrates a legend in her prime.
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Photo: Rebecca Sapp
5 Things We Learned From GRAMMY Museum's New The Power Of Song Exhibit, A Celebration Of Songwriters From Tom Petty To Taylor Swift
Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Jam, Smokey Robinson and more provide deep insights into their hit collaborations and creative process at GRAMMY Museum's The Power of Song: A Songwriters Hall of Fame Exhibit, open from April 26 through Sept. 4.
Since its founding in 1969, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has been celebrating the great songwriters and composers of our time. In 2010, it found a physical home at Downtown Los Angeles' GRAMMY Museum.
Now, the GRAMMY Museum is adding to that legacy with a special expanded exhibit, which dives deep into the history of songwriting and recorded music in the United States — as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame and its inductees' role in it. Whether you're a songwriter or musician who loves the creative process, a history nerd, or simply a music lover, this exhibit is for you.
When you enter The Power Of Song, you'll hear the voices of legendary Songwriter Hall of Fame inductees and GRAMMY winners — including Nile Rodgers, Carole King, Diane Warren, Smokey Robinson and Jimmy Jam — discussing their creative process and some of the biggest songs they've written. Take a seat on the couch to absorb all their wisdom in the deeply informative and inspiring original short film.
Turn to the right, and you'll find a timeline across the entire wall, explaining the origins and key points around songwriting and recorded music in the U.S. On the other wall, pop on the headphones provided to enjoy a video of memorable Hall of Fame ceremony performances. One interactive video interface near the entrance allows you to hear "song highlights," and another allows you to explore the entire Songwriters Hall of Fame database.
The exhibit is filled with a treasure trove of handwritten song lyrics from Taylor Swift, Cyndi Lauper, Tom Petty and many more, as well as iconic artifacts, including Daft Punk's helmets, a classy Nile Rodgers GRAMMY look, and guitars from Bill Withers, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Toby Keith.
Below, take a look at five things we learned from The Power Of Song: A Songwriters Hall Of Fame Exhibit, which will be at the GRAMMY Museum from April 26 through Sept. 4.
Daft Punk Rerecorded "Get Lucky" To Fit Nile Rodgers' Funky Guitar
Legendary funk pioneer and superproducer Nile Rodgers is the current Chairman of the SHOF and has an active presence at the exhibit. One case features the disco-esque lime green Dior tuxedo Rodgers wore to the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, along with the shiny metallic helmets of French dance duo Daft Punk, who collaborated with Rodgers on their GRAMMY-winning 2013 album, Random Access Memories.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and Rodgers had forged a friendship and been wanting to collab for years prior to 2013's Record Of The Year-winning smash "Get Lucky." When they finally connected and Bangalter and de Homem-Christo played the CHIC founder the demo for "Get Lucky," he asked to hear it again with everything muted except the drum track, so he could create the perfect guitar lick for it.
Bangalter and de Homem-Christo decided to essentially re-record the whole song to fit Rodgers' guitar, which joyously drives the track — and carried it to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Daft Punk's first Top 5 hit.
Photo: Rebecca Sapp
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Set Up Their Studio The "Wrong" Way Because Of Prince
In the exhibit film, Jimmy Jam tells several stories about working with — and learning from — Prince. He recalls how he and Terry Lewis watched Prince work and record everything "in the red," so they set up their Minneapolis studio to follow his lead. A sound engineer told them it was too loud, but that ended up being the sound that artists like Janet Jackson and Usher came to them for. It was a "happy mistake," as Jam put it, that helped their legendary careers as a powerhouse production duo take off.
Prince's dogmatic, tireless work ethic also rubbed off on the powerhouse pair. One rehearsal, the Purple One kept pressing Jam to do more, which resulted in him playing two instruments, singing and hitting the choreography from behind his keyboard. "He saw that I could do more than I thought I could; he saw me better than I saw myself," he reflected.
"God Bless America" Composer Irving Berlin Didn't Read Music
In his 50 year-career, Irving Berlin wrote over 1000 songs, many of which defined American popular music for the better part of the 20th century. Along with penning "God Bless America," "White Christmas," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (among many other classics), he wrote 17 full Broadway musical scores and contributed songs to six more plays.
Berlin also wrote scores for early Hollywood musicals starring the likes of Ginger Rodgers, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe, and Bing Crosby. He made a lasting, indelible mark on music, theater, film and American culture writ large.
Rather astonishingly, the widely celebrated American Tin Pan Alley-era composer was self-taught and didn't read sheet music. His family immigrated to New York from Imperial Russia when he was 5 years old, and when he was just 13, his father died, so he busked on the streets and worked as a singing waiter to help his family out.
In 1907, at 19, he had his first song published, and just four years later penned his first international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Berlin had a natural musicality and played music by ear in the key of F-sharp, with the help of his trusted upright transposing piano, a rare instrument that had a mechanism allowing him to shift into different keys. His "trick piano," as he called it, where many of his unforgettable songs first came to life, is on display at the exhibit.
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Smokey Robinson Didn't Expect "My Girl" To Become A Timeless Hit
Smokey Robinson was an important part of Motown's hit-making factory as a singer, songwriter and producer. In the exhibit film, he discusses "My Girl," one of his classic tunes, which he wrote and produced for the Temptations in 1965.
"I had no idea it would become what it would become," he said.
He says that people often ask him why he didn't record the unforgettable song with his group the Miracles instead of "giving it away" to the Temptations, but he never regretted his decision. Instead, he's honored to have created music that stands the test of time and means so much to so many people.
Robinson joked that the Temptations' then-lead singer David Ruffin's gruff voice scared girls into going out with him. Really, he loved Ruffin's voice, and thought he'd sound great singing a sweet love song like "My Girl." Safe to say he was right.
After World War II, Pop Music Changed Forever
Prior to World War II, American music operated as a singular mainstream market, and New York's Tin Pan Alley songwriters competed to make the next pop or Broadway hit. In a post-World War II America, especially when the early Baby Boomer generation became teenagers and young adults in the '60s and '70s, tastes changed and new styles of pop and pop songwriting emerged. As rock shook up popular culture, Tin Pan Alley gave way to a new era of young songwriters, many who worked out of just two buildings in midtown Manhattan, 1619 Broadway (the Brill Building) and 1650 Broadway.
In this richly creative and collaborative environment, powerhouse songwriting duos began to emerge and reshape pop music, challenging and balancing each other — and creating a ton of hits in the process. The hit-making duos of this diversified pop era included Burt Bacharach and Hal David (Dionne Warrick's "That's What Friends Are For"), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion"), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'") and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me," both in collaboration with Phil Spector). In fact, there are far too many classics penned by these four prolific songwriter duos to list here.
While there are still songwriters that pen big hit after hit for pop stars (Max Martin is still at it, as is his protege Oscar Görres), the dynamics in the industry have continued to shift with singers taking on more creative power themselves. Today's pop stars — including Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift — have found success co-writing with their own trusted teams of songwriters and producers. But as this new exhibit shows, it doesn't matter who is behind the pen — the power of song is mighty.
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