Taylor Swift reigns over the pop charts, but the singer can also lay claim to being the queen of trademarks. She has trademarked several of her famous phrases and images. She even famously trademarked the names of her cats. It’s all part of the successful media empire she has been building from an early age.
Taylor Swift was born in 1989 in West Reading, Pennsylvania. Her father is a former stockbroker for Merrill Lynch, and her mother is a former mutual fund marketing executive. At age nine, she began performing in musical theater acts and traveling to New York for auditions.
Swift was inspired by the music of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. In 2004, she told her family she wanted to move to Nashville to pursue a career as a country singer. With her mother, she visited Nashville studios with demo tapes of herself singing popular country covers.
When she was 12, Swift learned to play guitar and began composing her own songs. Her parents hired a well-known talent manager, Dan Dymtrow, who helped her find work as a model. He also helped her land a deal with Maybelline and an artist development deal with RCA Records.
When she was 14, her father transferred to Merrill Lynch’s Nashville office to help Swift’s career. She worked with several well-known Nashville songwriters. A year later, she became the youngest artist signed by Sony Records.
At an industry showcase, Swift met powerful Nashville music executive Scott Borchetta, who was on the verge of forming Big Machine Records, his independent label. Her father purchased a percentage of Big Machine, and Swift became one of the first artists signed to the label.
In 2006, the label released her first album, Taylor Swift. It reached number five on the U.S. Billboard 200. Swift won a Nashville Songwriters Association Songwriter of the Year award and an Academy of Country Music award as top female vocalist.
Her 2008 album, Fearless, contained several smash hits, including “Love Story”, “You Belong With Me” and “Fearless.” The album debuted at number one and was the top-selling album in the country in 2009. She won many awards, including Song of the Year and Best Female Video.
Despite her success as a country singer, Swift began incorporating pop and rock elements into her music with each successive album. After completing the 12-record deal for Big Machine, she signed with Republic Records. The first album on the label, Lover, was a runaway success. All 18 songs on the album charted on the Billboard 100.
Crossing Over from Country
Lover and the albums that followed were strictly pop and rock albums, but they proved that Taylor could make the crossover with no trouble. She is now 29, and her themes have become more mature than the teen-oriented material of her earlier albums.
She has continued to rack up impressive sales and prestigious awards with each album. Her two 2020 albums, Folklore and Evermore, topped the charts.
Through it all, she has shown a sharp business sense. From securing rights to her material early in her recording career to her love of trademarks, Swift has ensured she maintains full control of her creations.
This Sick Beat
In 2014, she released the album 1989. It was the best-selling album of the year.
Shortly after releasing it, she registered trademarks on the following phrases that are from lyrics on the album:
- This Sick Beat
- ’Cause We Never Go Out of Style
- Party Like it’s 1989
- Could Show You Incredible Things
- Nice To Meet You, Where You Been?
Swift also specified which items she controls for merchandising purposes. They include paper products, accessories, tee shirts, coffee mugs and more. We also have more on the Taylor Swift trademarks.
Why a Trademark Is a Smart Idea
It makes sense for a pop star as famous as Swift to secure these trademarks. Her signature phrases are likely to become popular among her fans, and the trademarks allow her to control who uses them and who can profit from them.
Many observers of the music business note that album and streaming sales don’t make the money for artists they once did. A megastar like Swift may be the exception, but it’s still smart to look for alternative ways to make a profit.
Check our guide on trademarking a phrase.
Merchandising and Control
Among these are concert tours and merchandising. Selling tee shirts and other apparel is profitable for most bands, but it only works if those bands control exclusive use of their name and trademarks. Without a trademark, anyone else can make tees, mugs or other items and sell them under a band name or a signature phrase.
With a trademark in place, nobody else can legally sell tee shirts outside a Taylor Swift concert that say, “This Sick Beat.” If they do, they can expect a call from one of her lawyers.
Swift’s Other Trademarks
Swift has also trademarked the names of her previous albums, her own name and her initials. She even registered trademarks for her three cats: Meredith Grey, Olivia Benson and Benjamin Swift.
The trademarks allow Swift to sell branded pet merchandise that uses her furry friends’ names.
It might seem over the top, but it’s undoubtedly a smart move for a celebrity as well-known and visible as Swift.
Swift continues to be an unstoppable juggernaut. In a recent Billboard poll, fans chose the band Big Red Machine’s song “Renegade”, featuring Taylor Swift, as the best new song of the week. She also announced that she will join an all-star cast in a new movie directed by David O. Russell. Taylor Swift is proof that with talent and some smart business sense, even a teenage pop star can build a powerful media empire.