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Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Taylor Swift’s Midnights Is Pure Marketing Genius – Here’s Why.

“I made up my mind that if you were going to be this generous, and give us this ”… I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you my new album comes out October 21st, and I will tell you more at midnight.”

Taylor accepts her award at the 2022 MTV VMAs

Following her surprise announcement at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, Swifties – as they are affectionately known – have been decoding the star’s every move. Sifting through years of online archives, they’ve been searching for answers and hints that may have alluded to this very announcement. And of course, to the now-trained eye, they are all clear to see. 

With Taylor Swift’s latest album Midnights due for release on October 21st, her recent stream of announcements, promotions, and Midnights Mayhem series on Tik Tok prove she’s a true marketing genius. Her ability to transform a traditional music release into something more disruptive is something any artist would be envious of, but this isn’t her first rodeo. Swift is well-known for her cunning hints and cryptic countdowns. 

She has always been bold, and unapologetically fearless within the realms of marketing and PR. Taylor pulled her entire catalogue of music from streaming service Spotify back in 2014 with the belief that music shouldn’t be free. And, following a true internet meltdown, it wasn’t until four years later that she returned. The Kimye-Taylor fued was met with a similar reception, as fans of all parties drew sides as the stars disagreed over the use of lyrics within Kanye’s 2016 track, Famous. Most recently, her re-released albums have again drawn attention to the star, as she fought to claim back the rights to much of her earlier work. Where many artists would have remained silent, Swift has entered strong and vocal pleas of defiance. 

And with every album, she has reinvented herself in some extraordinary way. Starting out as the clean-cut 14-year-old country-inspired artist, it would have been easy, and some may say convenient for her to stay in that lane. But Fearless in 2008 channelled more mainstream pop notes, delivering stan classics, Love Story and You Belong With Me. Red in 2012 tapped into that further, with Jon Dolan’s review in Rolling Stone dubbing it “one of the best stories in pop.” And as the years went by, Taylor journeyed further into deeper evolutional strides. In 2017, she completely reinvented her image with her sixth album, Reputation, and again in 2020 with sister releases Folklore and Evermore. Every new era for Taylor Swift propels her further into the stratospheric heights of stardom. 

Her Midnights announcement post on Instagram garners an impressive 8 million likes, and with this being Taylor’s first original release in nearly two years, it almost comes as no surprise. This could be the case for any artist on the same level as her, right? But the blindly labelled generic track titles featured on the album cover have now evolved into the next weapon in Taylor Swift’s marketing arsenal. 

From what we know so far, the record leans into the more whimsical, mysterious element Swift is so renowned for. But these are only morsels deduced from her Midnights Mayhem series on Tiktok – the beautifully crafted centerpiece to Taylor’s next release. The series, in which Swift can be seen perched on a velour sofa with a vintage-styled bingo wheel beside her, has racked up an eye-watering 66.5m views on the platform, and sent her fans, as intended, into an anticipating state of mayhem. With each turn of the wheel, she has announced a title from one of the album’s tracks, including a collaboration with Lana Del Rey on forth track, Snow on The Beach.

The Midnights Mayhem series on Tiktok

But this is all new information. Could Swift be leading fans down a rabbit hole? She’s previously stated that she scatters clues several years in advance of another album’s release and isn’t shy of trying to throw fans off the scent. Many have argued that her infamous appearance at the 2009 VMAs may have been a conscious and cleverly crafted nod to this release. One person commented on Reddit to say that “In 2009, the show was stolen from her, last night, she stole the show back.” Another fan joined the conversation to add that there was a distinct similarity between her 2009 dress and the one worn recently. “The most obvious easter egg ever. 13 years later”… this is Taylor Swift’s revenge dress.”

The little easter eggs that Swift leaves peppered amongst social posts, releases and television appearances are a cherished aspect of being one of her fans. If decoded correctly, they could open a can of worms that lead to an album planned for release several years in the future. If decoded wrong, they are saved into the Swift Bank ready to be referred back to at any given moment. But it’s not only the fans that get a kick out of these sickly-sweet secrets.

They’re also an incredibly powerful marketing device that has been utilised by Swift since the beginning of her career. They create a buzz – a discussion – a true internet meltdown that guarantees her a spot on Twitter’s trending tab in the long lead-up to each release. These easter eggs are invisible to the untrained eye. If you’re not actively looking for them, you most likely won’t find them. But that is the beauty of this divisive tool. From a marketing perspective, they keep fans engaged, even if there’s nothing actually planned in Swift’s upcoming calendar. Engagement is key in this industry. Lose your engagement, lose your fan base. Taylor’s iconic easter egg hunt is music marketing executed at its very best. 

Artists and their teams, take note. The buzz around this tenth studio album shows that Swift is far more than a mainstream artist marketed towards impressionable teenage girls. She is a true marketing genius.

Words by Issy Aldridge

Posted On 19 October, 2022