Taylor Swift is Time Person of the Year
NEW YORK—With a prolific musical output, a remarkably bankable tour and a name that’s headline catnip, it’s no surprise that Time Magazine has declared 2023 the Year of Taylor Swift.
In its annual issue honoring a Person of the Year—a nearly century-old designation whose recipients include Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Greta Thunberg—the magazine called music’s reigning deity a “rare person who is both the writer and hero of her own story.”
Nearly two decades into her career the 33-year-old’s star simply keeps rising: Swift is smashing industry records, and her conversation-commanding “Eras” tour is set to bring in an estimated $2 billion in revenue—and become the first tour to cross the symbolic $1-billion mark.
With hundreds of millions of social media followers and a staunchly loyal fan base, she can move any dial with the tiniest of efforts.
“Taylor Swift found a way to transcend borders and be a source of light,” Time editor in chief Sam Jacobs wrote in a statement. “Much of what Swift accomplished in 2023 exists beyond measurement.”
“She mapped her journey and shared the results with the world: she committed to validating the dreams, feelings and experiences of people, especially women, who felt overlooked and regularly underestimated.”
By some estimates her sprawling empire is worth more than $1 billion, and the massive $92.8-million opening this fall of her tour-documenting film is but another jewel on the artist’s crown.
Advance ticket sales for the movie topped $100 million worldwide, theater operator AMC said, making it the best-selling feature-length concert film in history.
And Swift’s blossoming romance with Kansas City Chiefs football player Travis Kelce has also brought the NFL a whole new wave of fans, as her hundreds of millions of social media followers track the couple’s every move.
It’s not new for Swift, who since her teenage years has seen her dating life broadcast to the world.
“There’s a camera, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once,” she said of the current frenzy around her game-day appearances.
“I’m just there to support Travis,” she continued. “I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads and Chads.”
After winning a mainstream audience for her introspective country songs, Swift went full pop for her fifth studio album, “1989.”
It was “an imperial phase,” she said in Time, a moment that saw her seemingly reach her zenith.
The years that followed grew increasingly taxing, she said, as the public grew weary of constant attention on her at a moment before US society had reexamined its hyperfixation on and criticism of young female celebrities.
Her media-hyped feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian didn’t help: “I had all the hyenas climb on and take their shots,” Swift says.
The difficult moment coincided with the satisfaction of her record deal with Scott Borchetta at Nashville’s Big Machine Records.
Swift decided it was time to move on and signed a major new deal with Universal that granted more agency and ownership of her own work.
But her relationship with Big Machine haunted her, as the sale of her catalog to a private equity firm triggered a massive dispute over musicians’ rights—and a bold new era of Swift’s career.
She publicly assailed Borchetta as well as her former manager Scooter Braun—who founded the rights holding company that acquired Swift’s catalog—as a “manipulative” bully who took advantage of her professionally when she was a fledgling star.
Her cunning next move was a huge risk that perhaps only an artist of her stature and wealth could take: Swift decided she would rerecord her first six albums to own their rights, urging her fans to listen to “Taylor’s Version” instead of previous releases.
Swift has sweetened her rerecords with previously unreleased tracks—like the 10-minute version of “All Too Well”—breaking records, delighting ardent fans and bringing new Swifties into the fold.
As she drops rerecords, Swift has also released four albums of new work since 2019’s “Lover,” including last year’s “Midnights,” which is poised to earn her a fourth Album of the Year Grammy.
Doing so would see her surpass the likes of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder as the winningest artist of the ceremony’s most prestigious prize.
“This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been,” Swift told Time. “Ultimately, we can convolute it all we want, or try to overcomplicate it, but there’s only one question.”
“Are you not entertained?”