Taylor Swift has major tech companies doing her marketing now

It’s that time again, folks: In case you’ve been, I don’t know, hiding under a rock for the past few days, a new Taylor Swift album has just landed. The Tortured Poets Department, Swift’s 11th studio album, is a sprawling, 31-song collection that’s already breaking records right and left, from Amazon Music declaring it the service’s most streamed album debut of all time to Spotify confirming it as the most-streamed album in a single day so far this year. Swift explained its packaging as a double album by tweeting to her fans: “I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you.”

The thing you have to understand about a new Taylor album release, though, is that because they’ve all now become such a capital-E event, her music and her brand don’t simply confine themselves to Swifties anymore. Anyone using in the internet in the wake of a Taylor release is assaulted by her music, by memes, advertisements, and major digital services heavily promoting her. Which means if you’re not a fan like me, tough luck — the aftermath of a Taylor release a la The Tortured Poets Department is a little like sitting in a restaurant back in the day and pretending there’s some kind of magical forcefield around the “no smoking” section.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performs at Accor Stadium on February 23, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. Image source: Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images

It’s annoying, to say the least, to see what feels like every major digital service I use now going to extraordinary lengths to promote every single thing that Taylor does. And it’s not just because everything I know about Taylor has been conveyed to me against my will — if she really is one of the biggest music acts on the planet, why does she need this much of an assist? Meta-owned Instagram, for example, gave Taylor’s Instagram profile an all-new feature no one else has access to: If Swifties visited her profile prior to the release of the new album, and then pulled down from the top of the screen, a writing hand emoji materialized.

Pull down even more, and the words “The Tortured Poets Department” appeared. Let go, and then you saw a timer counting down to the album release date.

Meta’s Threads also got in on the act, creating a shimmer effect when users post with certain tags (like #TTPD and #Swifties). White hearts also shoot out from the bottom of the screen when liking a post with those tags.

Not to be outdone, iHeartRadio temporarily rebranded to “iHeartTaylor” in honor of TTPD, and the platform is promising “Twice the Taylor” wherein stations will play songs from every era of her career. Other digital services, meanwhile, have likewise gone to great lengths to give Taylor a boost.

Spotify — which revealed that Taylor’s new album was the first album in Spotify history to have over 300 million streams in a single day — decided to bring the album to life with a library-themed art installation at The Grove in Los Angeles. “For three days,” the company says in a news release, “the iconic shopping mall featured an open-air poetry library highly curated to represent the direction of the new record. Each day of the activation, we revealed lyrics from the album, creating an ever-evolving adventure for everyone on the ground. Fans took to social media to share their excitement and dissect other potential clues they could find.”

Taylor Swift Spotify installation
Spotify’s Taylor Swift pop-up at The Grove for her new album “The Tortured Poets Department” in Los Angeles, California. Image source: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

The Taylor promotional juggernaut also included her lyrics serving as the basis for an Apple Music word game. SiriusXM added a Swift radio station — called (what else?) Channel 13 (Taylor’s Version). And then there’s TikTok, a service which took it upon itself to proactively help Taylor go viral as soon as she joined the platform a few years ago (according to the CEO himself).

On Friday, TikTok announced an exclusive and first-of-its-kind promotion in support of Taylor, which comes at a bit of an eyebrow-raising moment — the service is still embroiled in a licensing dispute with Universal Music Group, which is Swift’s distribution partner.

She brought her music back to the platform right before the release of her new album, though, in a move that’s been characterized as crossing a digital picket line. And, right on time, TikTok stepped up to help with TTPD. “Fans can dive into the album with playlists to create with, as well as challenges to unlock exclusive artwork for their profiles, and the opportunity to be featured in a Fan Spotlight carousel,” TikTok’s Taylor announcement explained.

Long story short, it seems that most every major digital service for better or worse is now part of the Taylor Swift marketing juggernaut. And you can’t help but wonder why all of this is so necessary — I mean, she is literally one of the most famous women in the world at this point. It’s an orgy of PR that flies in the face of my favorite line from Ben Stiller’s criminally underrated 2013 movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”

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