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News December 16, 2020

Taylor Swift, the pandemic and that dirty word ‘discipline’ [Op-Ed]

Senior Journalist, B2B
Taylor Swift, the pandemic and that dirty word ‘discipline’ [Op-Ed]

When Kevin Parker lit up the ARIA Awards for one of Tame Impala’s five wins, one of his pieces to camera was music to the ears.

Parker, the Lonerist, confessed that he’s used the rare downtime to create stuff.

It’s music to the ears of fans, who one day will hear the fruits of his isolation labour. And his management team, through to his label, publishers, streamer and everyone in his ecosystem.

Creating art — really, high-quality art — needs a solar system of planets to align. Space and time, yes. And those creative juices need to flow, true. And muses, you might need one. And energy. That’s the tricky one.

Without the right “energy,” you can’t find the “Zone,” that magical place every artist, athlete and writer is looking to inhabit, where the words write themselves, where the pigskin finds its target like it’s on a guided missile.

Many artists try, and fail, to create when they’re on tour. They’ve space and time in abundance, the juices are on tap, but there’s no creative energy.

Recording artists, in a perfect world, would create outlines of music while on the tour bus, then flesh it out during the “off cycle,” that gap year-or-so that opens up when a tour wraps.

It’s not a perfect world.

Kevin Parker

Kevin Parker photo by Matt Sav

Which brings us to Taylor Swift and her big surprise, another new album, Evermore, her second recorded and released during the pandemic.

The “world felt opened up creatively” following the release of July’s Folklore, she told Zane Lowe on Apple Music.

In other words, Swift found the “Zone.” If she could draw us a map, it’d be worth millions.

There are several takeaways from Parker and Swift and how they’ve gone about their work during this plague.

First, we could all use our time more wisely. All of us, not just frontline artists who create the music and the headlines. It comes down to confronting an ugly idea, that dirty word: Discipline.

The pandemic has created a cycle outside a cycle. Kev and TayTay were disciplined. As was Charli XCX and many others.

Right now, Swift and her Swifties are reaping the rewards (though in Parker’s case, we’ll have to sit back and wait it out. History tells us, it’ll be worth the wait).

Pandemic or not, if those juices are flowing, stop everything else you’re doing.  They can turn on and off at any moment.

Finally, surprise releases are a great idea when you’re Taylor Swift or Beyonce, when 300 million social media followers are literally in your pocket and there’s no other strong release in your way.

For everyone else, a surprise album is the equivalent of chucking a five-cent coin into the MCG. No one will hear it.

We’ll all get out of this mess soon enough. With discipline, artists can come away with something to show for it.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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