60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Role Model Responsibility & Live Backstage

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60 Minutes: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has only been on the music scene for about six years, but now she is a huge superstar. Her newest album, Red, had the best first-week sales of anything in at least a decade. Lesley Stahl had a chance to profile the singer’s savvy and youthfulness. The country-pop crossover artist, whose love life is always in the headlines, was featured on 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Speak Now

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Backstage & Role Model Responsibility

60 Minutes went backstage on tour with Taylor Swift, a young artist who writes her own music, manages her career, and takes her role model status seriously. (Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com)

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Back in 2011, 60 Minutes met Taylor Swift during her Speak Now tour. Her concerts sell out in just minutes, and Stahl reported that concertgoers like to scream and cheer. “It’s almost as if she’s their spiritual leader,” she said.

Swift does write her own music, focusing on love and heartbreak, and Stahl praised the performer’s themes. Bill Werde of Billboard said that her popularity may actually be a distraction from her talents as a songwriter.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Love Story

Swift has said that her songs are autobiographical, including “Love Story,” which was inspired by a fight with her parents about a boy. She got right to work writing what would become a hit song. But she recalled that she had to push to prove the song’s worth, before it eventually hit #1 on the country and pop charts for Billboard.

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Swift loves to prove people wrong, and has been singing for most of her life. Her first love was country music, even though she does not have Southern roots. She always wanted to vacation to Nashville, and she got her chance in spring 2001.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Demos

Andrea Swift, her mother, recalled the trip when her daughter was 11 years old. She dropped off demo CDs at various studios. She wasted no time performing at young ages, even in bars when she was underage.

“Sometimes I ended up in the wrong venue, but it was learning to talk to a crowd,” she said of her early experiences. Eventually, her perseverance paid off with a one-year development deal from RCA that moved her family to Nashville.

60 Minutes: Scott Borchetta & Taylor Swift

But things did not work out, because Swift was resistant to performing songs written by other people. At age 14, she decided to walk away when her contract expired.

Scott Borchetta, a record executive, said her move was unheard of. Maybe something about being a teenager makes you more fearless in terms of business decisions. It helps that you have parents still paying the bills, to be sure.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Backstage

Swift signed with Borchetta on a new record label, and the gamble paid off for both of them. Speak Now, her third album, was a huge success, and Swift kept moving at countless tour dates with multiple costume changes.

She said her primary goal while performing was not to break her leg due to clumsiness. The Taylor Swift brand and product endorsements are raking in ancillary revenues as well. She is making millions every time she tours.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Manager

Swift is in the driver’s seat as her own manager, and she always puts fans first. At least as of the Speak Now tour, she devoted an hour to meet and greets before each show. She also ensured that concerts put her as close as possible to fans.

She even makes the people in the back of the stadium a part of the show, while members of her team recruit super fans for a backstage experience after the performance.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift & Stevie Nicks

Swift said she is genuinely surprised every night when she sees the huge crowds at her shows. Fans also love her self-deprecating image in videos, according to 60 Minutes.

She is also racking up awards, including the 2012 Album of the Year Grammy Award. Of course, there was that moment when Kanye West hijacked her acceptance speech. She was also off-key during a duet with Stevie Nicks.

60 Minutes: Taylor Swift Role Model Responsibility

As for the negative reviews, Swift said she has never developed a thick skin. She responded to negative reaction about her Nicks duet with the song “Mean.” The song was adopted as an anthem against bullying by fans.

Does she think of herself as a cultural leader? Swift said she does think about her fans each day, and that responsibility is part of her daily life. “I think it’s my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it,” she said. “The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.”

Taylor Swift has achieved her dream at a very young age, and she said that gives her time to keep proving herself throughout her life. Are you a Taylor Swift fan? I don’t love her music, but that sure was a flattering 60 Minutes profile.

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