5 Things Artists Can Learn from Taylor Swift

Rick Barker, Taylor Swift's former manager

I had the opportunity to hear from Rick Barker in Nashville recently at a music industry luncheon hosted by Indie Connect. Rick was Taylor Swift’s manager during the years she went from unknown to famous. In what I’d describe as an entertaining and energizing workshop full of wisdom from someone with a GSD (get sh*t done) degree, Rick shared many insights into Taylor’s career.

Here were my top five take-aways:

1. Know your audience- According to Rick, “we don’t discover and build relationships in 140 characters.” Taylor got to know her audience, what made them laugh and cry, what they liked and disliked. Her audience is now growing up with her because she made them feel special.
2. Start from crazy and work backwards - When you’re making a plan for yourself as an artist, start with what you want. Taylor told him that she wanted a gold record, for example, and he said “Okay, we need to go meet 500,000 people.” The first album went gold in 13 weeks.
3. Find passion- in both yourself and in your team. You can’t teach passion but you can teach skills. Find people who believe in you with a passion and who are honest and willing to work hard for you. Taylor found these people in her career.
4. Work and preparation- Be prepared when opportunity comes, and be prepared to work hard for it. Rick said that Taylor knew what she wanted and was willing to put in the hard work for it.
5. Do good work- Don’t ever release music or anything else that you have to make an excuse for.

For more info on Rick’s current company, visit his website, Music Industry Blue Print.

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