The famous country-singer-turned-pop-star has made headlines recently by breaking her silence on politics and voting blue. But how did mega star Taylor Swift, who pulls crowds of millions, build her brand? And better still, what is the "Reputation" artist's net worth?
What Is Taylor Swift's Net Worth?
According to Forbes, Taylor Swift's net worth is estimated to be a whopping $320 million as of 2018. The massive number puts Swift in the top end of celebrity net worth, comparable to those of Drake or Serena Williams.
And while the singer has amassed a huge fortune for herself, she's done so through strategic career moves and, of course, talent. Swift has gotten marketing and her brand down pat - and, according to The Globe and Mail, is as "omnipresent as Coca-Cola." (KO) - Get Report
How Did Taylor Swift Build Her Brand?
Throughout the mire of controversies and tabloids, Swift has consistently used circumstances to her advantage to build her brand. In fact, even the likes of Forbes have claimed that Swift can teach a thing or two about marketing.
Since her first album debuted in 2006, Swift has connected personally with fans, deeming themselves "Swifties." Hailing from Reading, Pa. before moving to Nashville, Tenn., Swift began her career as a country singer, but pivoted to pop after building support. Although the exact point at which Swift made the transition is somewhat murky (Rolling Stone proposes the teen anthem "You Belong With Me" may have been Swift's first pop-leaning song), it is fairly clear that by 2014 or so, Swift moved in on pop territory.
And while the singer is no stranger to controversy, Swift has strategically used social media and other means to build up her brand and ensure listeners stay on their toes. In fact, Swift even went dark on Instagram in 2017 prefacing the release of "Reputation." Deleting all of her photos on Instagram and removing her Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Twitter (TWTR) - Get Report profile pictures, Swift built anticipation and came flooding back to the social media sites once the album was released.
Swift built up anticipation to the album's drop by releasing mysterious snake videos (which, for the "Swifties" out there, play a part in Swift's new album and look), prompting Forbes to delineate the singer as a "master class" teacher in marketing.
But more than her social media, Swift has leveraged the formidable feuds she's been involved in and her infamous breakups to further promote herself and her brand - dishing out not-so-secret hints in her songs or interviews that allude to ex-boyfriends or those she's feuded with.
Before "Reputation," Swift had obtained a "goody-two-shoes" reputation, with even publications like Cosmopolitan infamously speculating about her virginity. But as a so-called master of marketing, Swift has managed to transition her image from innocent country girl to tough, post-feud Taylor - declaring in one of her recent songs that "I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why? Because she's dead."
But apart from Swift's personal brand, how did the singer actually build her music empire?
Taylor Swift's Career
Dropping her first album in 2006, Swift has since built a multi-hundred-million-dollar empire with nine albums to her name. But, how did the country-cross-over star reach the top?
Swift moved to Nashville to begin her career as an artist. Before releasing her debut album, Swift dropped her first single "Tim McGraw" in June of 2006. The singer's first album, self-titled "Taylor Swift," was released shortly after in October of 2006.
At 15, Swift was the youngest artist ever to sign with Sony. (SNE) - Get Report Swift soon released her lead single "Love Story" prefacing her "Fearless" album release in 2008, catapulting the burgeoning star into widespread fame. "Fearless" ended up topping the Billboard 200 for 11 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1, earning Swift the title of longest chart-topper for a female country artist.
Swift has since won 10 Grammys and countless top singles. The artist has been signed with Big Machine Records, but recently signed with Universal Music Group's (UMG) Republic Records in late 2018, according to reports.
Virtually every album Swift has ever released has been a top album.
Swift's debut self-titled album hit No. 19 on the Billboard 200, meeting with huge critical success. Following her initial success, Swift's second album, "Fearless," hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2008. Matching her previous record with "Fearless," Swift's next album "Speak Now" hit No. 1 for 11 non-consecutive weeks in addition to becoming the best selling album of 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In 2012, Swift's fourth studio album "Red" debuted at No. 1 and sold an astounding 1.21 million copies in the first week alone.
By 2014, Swift added to her No. 1 albums by releasing "1989" - titled after the year Swift was born. Sitting atop the Billboard 200 once more, "1989" broke the record for the most albums sold in a week since 2002 with 1.28 million. The album, which featured songs like "Bad Blood" and "Blank Space," spent a full year on the Billboard 200 - one of only five to do so.
And, ending the long anticipation, Swift dropped a surprisingly different album - titled "Reputation" - in 2017. "Reputation" became Swift's fifth No. 1 debuting album, raking in 1.2 million copies sold in the first week.
Swift finished a six-month stadium tour for her album "Reputation," where the singer allegedly earns over $10 million per show.
Controversy and Feuds
If there's one thing almost everyone knows about Swift, it's that she has had a fair amount of controversy and celebrity feuds.
Perhaps one of Swift's most famous controversies (and subsequent feuds) is with fellow artist Kanye West (who himself is well known for sparking controversy). West infamously stormed on to the stage at the 2009 Grammys to interrupt Swift while she was accepting her award. West proceeded to grab the microphone away from Swift and famously say, "imma let you finish" before declaring he believed artist Beyonce should have won the award.
Despite apologizing to Swift, West wrote a derogatory line about Swift in his 2016 song "Famous." More controversy ensued when transcripts of a phone call between Swift and West were released, wherein Swift apparently approved of the lyrics before their publication. Swift later referenced the tiff in her song "Look What You Made Me Do," which some have speculated calls out several of Swift's grudges.
In addition to West, Swift has famously feuded with fellow female pop artist Katie Perry over the course of several years. The pair were reportedly close friends for a while before the tension started. Perry allegedly poached background dancers from Swift's tour for her own, and both dated John Mayer, adding to the rivalry. Some have speculated that Swift wrote her 2015 song "Bad Blood" about the feud with Perry.
But apart from Swift's feuds, the singer has faced a good amount of controversy over her stance to be silent on politics (until recently) and her interactions with music streaming service Spotify (SPOT) - Get Report .
Swift penned an article in The Wall Street Journal criticizing Spotify for allegedly underpaying artists who put their music on it. Spotify's stated payout range is around $0.006 per stream. Still, despite her stance, Swift ended up putting her music on Spotify. According to a Time article in 2014, Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek was frustrated with Swift over her comments, claiming that the singer could be expected to make over $6 million in 2015 from Spotify.
But even aside from Swift's tiff with Spotify, the star has also received a good amount of flack for being notably silent on political issues - even when groups have tried to label her.
In a somewhat shocking turn, members of the extremist so-called "alt-right," a white nationalist movement, have long touted Swift as a white supremacist icon - even called her "our girl." Despite the repeated claims on forums and sites that Swift was either associated with the "alt-right" or held their views, Swift remained silent. That is, until the 2018 midterms.
Taylor Swift and Politics
Swift has finally broken her long, infamous silence on politics.
The notably ambiguous singer has long been the source of debate over whether or not celebrities have a responsibility to declare their political stance. And while the debate continues, Swift officially announced her leaning by advocating for a blue wave in the most recent midterm election. The star took to Instagram to declare her stance:
And, the post seems to have had a big effect.
"It's not so much about changing minds as getting people who aren't paying attention," Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi told CNBC. "When Charles Barkley came out for Doug Jones in the final weeks of the Alabama special election, we noticed that younger voters weren't paying much attention to the race, but the polling was for us. Charles Barkley really grabbed some of the spotlight with young voters."
In a flurry of controversy, members of the "alt-right" who formerly claimed Swift as their icon are claiming the singer's allegiances are a "betrayal beyond words," according to the Washington Post.
However, for many, Swift's democratic endorsement really changed the game in the election. Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount (a voter registration nonprofit), told CNBC that Swift's actions had an enormous impact.
"There is no question that Taylor Swift and many other musicians have had a positive impact on voter registration," Bernstein told CNBC in October. "HeadCount has tracked over 50,000 voter registrations coming directly from artists posting on social media in the last few years. It's a proven method, and clearly Taylor Swift's post made the biggest ripple ever."
How Does Taylor Swift Spend Her Money?
Two words: real estate.
The 28-year-old has made some wise investments.
According to Business Insider, Swift has amassed an $84 million real estate portfolio as of 2018, comprised of eight properties in four states. The singer also owns two mansions in Nashville at $3 million and $2.5 million a piece. Swift also was selling a $2.85 million home, and also owns a $30 million property - both in Beverly Hills. Swift's Rhode Island house is reportedly worth $6.65 million, while the artist's New York City apartment is reportedly worth about $40 million.
Swift is also speculated to own two Dassault private jets (which go for about $58 million a pop).
Additionally, Swift reportedly donates to many charities and causes, including donating millions to natural disaster relief in Nashville and Louisiana. In 2011, Swift donated $750,000 made at a benefit concert for tornado victims in the southern U.S. Swift also gave a reported $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame to support education under the Taylor Swift Education Center, and also gave some $50,000 to New York public schools. The singer also donated money to support fellow artist Kesha's legal fees during a sexual assault battle, and has contributed hefty sums (upwards of $60,000) to various GoFundMe campaigns.
Swift donated $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony on her 24th birthday.