|This year, Billboard honored Taylor Swift with its first Woman of the Decade Award. It recognizes Swift for being one of the most accomplished musical artists of all time over a decade / Photo by: Eva Rinaldi via Wikimedia Commons|
Popular American entertainment media brand Billboard holds an annual event called Billboard Women in Music to recognize the women in the music industry who have made significant contributions and inspire generations of women to increase their responsibilities.
First-Ever Woman of the Decade
This year, Billboard honored Taylor Swift with its first Woman of the Decade Award. It recognizes Swift for being one of the most accomplished musical artists of all time over a decade. When actress Jameela Jamil presented Swift the award at the 2019 Women in Music event, Swift asked if she could hold her award during her speech because she doesn’t want it to slip and break because it’s “so important” for her.
Talking About Institutionalized Sexism
During her speech, the singer-songwriter shared how she witnessed institutionalized sexism in the industry for the last decade. She said that when the decade began, some people always had the slightest reservations about her because she was a female. For instance, some would ask whether a male co-writer or producer was the reason for her success or because it was her savvy record. “It wasn’t,” she clarified. Swift added how people would want to explain away the success of a woman in the music industry.
After her “Fearless” album won a Grammy, that’s when the Swift backlash exploded. Suddenly, people were not sure if she was the only person writing the songs because sometimes there were co-writers present in the room. This is what happens when a woman in the music industry gains success that is beyond the comfort level also set by people.
Rising Above Adversity
For Swift, her solution to adversity is to just move forward and keep making great art. The songwriter also voiced her support for American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey as the most influential artist in pop. Swift said that Del Rey is one of her favorite artists, who also experienced criticism at the start of her career. Slowly, she became an influential artist such that her aesthetics, lyrics, and vocal stylings were repurposed in music.
|During her speech, the singer-songwriter shared how she witnessed institutionalized sexism in the industry for the last decade / Photo by: Jana Beamer via Flickr|
Unfair Music Business Practice
In a report published by Billboard, Swift also mentioned about unfair business practices in the music industry regarding people's art and private equity and how it has affected her personally. She added how there are private equity buying up their music as if they’re an app, a shoe line, or real estate. It happened to her as well without her consent, consultation, or approval. Swift was referring to the recent acquisition of her back catalog (all works previously produced) by Scooter Braun and his partner Scott Borchetta.
When celebrity news provider Glamour asked artists and lawyers to break down what it means, music transactional attorney Erin M. Jacobson answered that the seller (Borchetta) stands to earn upfront from the sale while the buyer (Braun) earns profit overtime because of ownership of the assets. Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group, which owns all of Swift’s masters (first recording of the song) and also released her studio albums.
Swift shared on Tumblr her disdain of that business deal, saying that her musical legacy will lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it. She referred to it as “toxic male privilege” in the music industry. After encouraging a discussion about private equity and naming names, she urged people to continue advocating for women representation in the recording studios and the Artists and Repertoire department. A&R is a division responsible for talent scouting and commercial development of the recording artist.
Last month, Braun responded with an open letter after Swift’s post on Tumblr. Braun said his wife and children received death threats and would prefer to resolve things amicably but his attempts to have an open discussion have been rejected for the last six months.
Billboard shared how Swift’s refusal to play nice, candor, and bluntness reminded them of Madonna’s 2016 speech when she was awarded the Woman of the Year honors. The global icon, at that time, was brutally honest when she shared how she encountered misogyny, sexism, relentless abuse, and constant bullying.
The Advice She Would Give Her Younger Self
When asked offstage what advice she would give her younger self if she could go back a decade ago, she said that there is nothing she would say or change. She would do the same way because although things were tough, it taught her lessons that she would never have learned the other way. The singer added that she appreciated the ups and downs in her past.
|Billboard also recognized Billie Eilish as Woman of the Year / Photo by: crommelincklars via Wikimedia Commons|
Billboard’s Women in Music
Billboard also recognized Billie Eilish as Woman of the Year. Other Women of the Year Award honorees were: Ariana Grande (2018), Selena Gomez (2017), Madonna (2016), Lady Gaga (2015), Taylor Swift (2014), Pink (2013), Katy Perry (2012), Taylor Swift (2011), Fergie (2010), Beyoncé (2009), Ciara (2008), and Reba McEntire (2007). In 2010, Billboard also awarded Lea Michele with its first-ever Triple Threat award for her excellence in performance across dancing, singing, and acting.
With Swift's commitment to her music and success throughout the decade, she sure is worthy of the award.