BLOG 27th July 2021

How Taylor Swift does audience development

As thrive’s chief data nerd, I’m often pulling loads of data at a time. When I do this, I like to play music in the background, everything from Linkin Park to Hawaiian artist Anuhea and yes, even Taylor Swift (hey, don’t judge).

Instead of streaming music on Spotify this week, I decided to open Netflix and put the Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour on in the background while I worked. What I didn’t expect was to hear her do anything related to audience development!

So what did Taylor Swift do?

  • First, she thanked her audiences for coming, acknowledging that they could be doing so many other things in Dallas on a Saturday night, but they chose to spend the evening with her. A simple thank you goes a long way.
  • She showed that she listens to her audiences – Taylor said audiences asked her online to perform some of her older songs that she hasn’t done in a while. She made them feel heard and performed a song that she released in 2012. Simple!
  • She showed that she values diversity without being over the top about it. She introduced her backup singers and dancers one by one, showing women of different ethnicities, shapes and personalities. With Millennials (which I’m guessing are a big chunk of Taylor’s audience) being one of the most diverse age groups in the US and also being a tech-connected and ‘empathetic generation’ (Gallup’s words, not mine), Taylor’s being smart and showing that her values align with her audience’s.
  • She gave all audience light up bracelets to show audiences that even at her largest all-stadium performance, she can still see every one of them. It’s a simple move that makes her audiences feel important and SEEN.

Taylor Swift has been a major force in the music industry for more than 15 years, so she probably doesn’t *have* to do any of these things as her fans are so bought in, but she does them anyways.

No matter where you are in your audience development journey, be like Taylor. Treat your audiences like they’re your closest friends – make them feel special, seen and heard. Because that’s the basis of audience development.

This year at thrive, we’re putting a spotlight on the audience journey, from the first time they hear about your organisation to when they become loyal returning customers (and even members). And speaking of friends, we have broken down all the different stages of this audience journey into a friendship analogy: when people first hear about you, when they meet you for the first time, when they meet you again and when they become your best friends. Check out our resources to find out more.

Alix Craig

Sector Programme Coordinator

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