The Reynolds Center Horizontal Logo In Color

Two Minute Tips

Five things to take away from Taylor Swift’s listening parties

October 17, 2014

Share this article:

Photo via Billboard.com.

When it comes to marketing, Taylor Swift seems to have a golden touch. She senses the right moment to put out a new single, and flash! it hits the top of the charts. She ranks No. 18 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, earning an estimated $64 million last year.

Now, she’s come up with a genius idea for connecting with her fans. Even more significant, she did it without anything about it leaking out.

Over the past few months, Swift held a series of listening parties at her homes around the U.S. and the U.K. with her most devoted fans. She picked 89 young people to stop by for cookies, which she baked herself, and dancing.

Any other superstar might have asked her fans to tweet and post away. Swift asked her fans to stay quiet about it, until, presumably, she could release the video you see at the top of this post.

Here are five things Swift did that you may soon see other stars try.

1) Crowd control.

he youngsters were hand-picked by Swift’s people from among her most fervent followers. According to the video, each got calls from TaylorSwift.com, and were told to arrive at a pickup location, but not told anything about the event they’d be attending.

2) Location control.

The events took place at Swift’s homes — not at public venues or even hotels, where word could have easily gotten out. You aren’t going to easily waltz into one of Swift’s houses: you’d have to get through security. That keeps leakers to a minimum.

3) Cookie control.

The video shows Swift baking chocolate chip coconut cookies. And while she might not have baked all of them herself, it means that she didn’t need to hire caterers. Another way to keep leaks to a minimum.

4) No phones, Polaroids.

The only people with cameras in the video look to be Swift’s people. No tweets, Instagrams or Facebook posts. Also, while you can take a photo of Polaroid and post it, it’s going to look a tad less sharp than a iPhone photo or one snapped with a good digital camera. No digital file, no sharing.

5) Creating buzz.

Everyone at the cookie parties got to hear 1989, Swift’s new album, weeks before it came out. What better way to generate buzz among the loyalists, and ensure a swift ride (no pun intended) to the top of the Billboard charts, once the album hits a week from Monday?

Remember that as entertainers control their message, it’s an end run around the media, which they can’t control to the same extent.

If you follow entertainment, or come in contact with music or Hollywood stars, Swift’s tactics are something to keep in mind. That’s especially the case for reporters in places like New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago or all the spots covered by On Location Vacations, which tracks where movies, TV shows and videos are being produced.

You might not think much of this sick beat, to quote Shake It Out, but whomever handles Swift’s marketing is doing some high fives this weekend.


  • Micheline Maynard

    Micheline is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post concentrating on business and culture. She has written about flooding in Detroit, tainted water in Benton Harbor, nationwide shortages of restaurant staff, and vaccine hesitancy.

    View all posts

More Like This...

Two Minute Tips

Sign up now.
Get one Tuesday.

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism.

Subscribers also get access to the Tip archive.


Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.