At age nine, Swift became interested in musical theater and performed in four Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. She also traveled regularly to New York City for vocal and acting lessons. Swift later shifted her focus toward country music inspired by Shania Twain's songs, which made her "want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything." She spent her weekends performing at local festivals and events. After watching a documentary about Faith Hill, Swift felt sure she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a music career. She traveled with her mother at age eleven to visit Nashville record labels and submitted a demo tape of Dolly Parton and Dixie Chicks karaoke covers. She was rejected, however, because "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different."
When Swift was about 12 years old, computer repairman and local musician Ronnie Cremer taught her to play guitar. He helped with her first efforts as a songwriter, leading to her writing "Lucky You". In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. With his help, Swift modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included on a Maybelline compilation CD, and attended meetings with major record labels. After performing original songs at an RCA Records showcase, Swift was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville with her mother.
To help Swift break into country music, her father transferred to Merrill Lynch's Nashville office when she was 14, and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift attended Hendersonville High School but after two years transferred to the Aaron Academy, which through homeschooling could accommodate her touring schedule; she graduated a year early.
2004–2008: Career beginnings and Taylor Swift
In Nashville, Swift worked with experienced Music Row songwriters such as Troy Verges, Brett Beavers, Brett James, Mac McAnally, and the Warren Brothers, and formed a lasting working relationship with Liz Rose. They began meeting for two-hour writing sessions every Tuesday afternoon after school. Rose thought the sessions were "some of the easiest I've ever done. Basically, I was just her editor. She'd write about what happened in school that day. She had such a clear vision of what she was trying to say. And she'd come in with the most incredible hooks." Swift was signed by the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house but left RCA Records when she was 14. She later said: "I genuinely felt that I was running out of time. I wanted to capture these years of my life on an album while they still represented what I was going through."
At an industry showcase at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe in 2005, Swift caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, a DreamWorks Records executive who was preparing to form an independent record label, Big Machine Records. She had first met Borchetta in 2004. Swift became one of Big Machine's first signings, and her father purchased a three-percent stake in the company for an estimated $120,000. She began working on her eponymous debut album shortly after. Swift persuaded Big Machine to hire her demo producer Nathan Chapman, with whom she felt she had the right "chemistry". She wrote three of the album's songs alone, and co-wrote the remaining eight with Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher, and Angelo Petraglia.Taylor Swift was released on October 24, 2006. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times described it as "a small masterpiece of pop-minded country, both wide-eyed and cynical, held together by Ms. Swift's firm, pleading voice."Taylor Swift peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the United States, spending 157 weeks there—the longest stay on the chart by any release in the U.S. that decade. As of August 2016, the album had sold over 7.75 million copies worldwide.
Big Machine Records was still in its infancy during the June 2006 release of the lead single, "Tim McGraw". Swift and her mother helped "stuff the CD singles into envelopes to send to radio." She spent much of 2006 promoting Taylor Swift with a radio tour, television appearances, and opening for Rascal Flatts on select dates during their 2006 tour after they fired their previous opening act, Eric Church, for playing longer than his allotted time. Church jokingly told Swift she should give him her first gold record as thanks for getting fired. She sent him her first gold record with a note that said, "Thanks for playing too long and too loud on the Flatts tour. I sincerely appreciate it. Taylor."
Borchetta said that record industry peers disapproved of his signing a 16-year-old singer-songwriter, but that Swift tapped into a previously unknown market—teenage girls who listen to country music. Following "Tim McGraw", four more singles were released throughout 2007 and 2008: "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", "Picture to Burn" and "Should've Said No". All were successful on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in the United States, with "Our Song", and "Should've Said No" reaching number one. With "Our Song", Swift became the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the chart. "Teardrops on My Guitar" reached number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in the United States. Swift also released the holiday album Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection in October 2007 and the EP Beautiful Eyes in July 2008. She promoted her debut album extensively as the opening act for other artists on their tours.
Swift's second studio album, Fearless, was released on November 11, 2008. The lead single, "Love Story", was released in September 2008. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one in Australia. Four more singles were released throughout 2008 and 2009: "White Horse", "You Belong with Me", "Fifteen" and "Fearless". "You Belong with Me" was the album's highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number two. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was the top-selling album of 2009 in the United States. Swift's first concert tour, the Fearless Tour, promoted the album; it grossed over $63 million.Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless, a concert film, was aired on television and later released on DVD and Blu-ray. Swift also performed as a supporting act for Keith Urban's Escape Together World Tour.
Swift made her TV acting debut in a 2009 episode of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, playing a rebellious teenager. The New York Times noted the character allowed Swift to be "a little bit naughty, and credibly so". Later that year, Swift both hosted and performed as the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live.Entertainment Weekly described her as "this season's best Saturday Night Live host so far", noting she "was always up for the challenge, seemed to be having fun, and helped the rest of the cast nail the punchlines".
2010–2014: Speak Now and Red
In August 2010, Swift released "Mine", the lead single from her third studio album, Speak Now. It entered the U.S. charts at number three, making Swift the second female artist in the history of the Hot 100 (after Mariah Carey) to debut multiple tracks in the top five in one year; the other was "Today Was a Fairytale" at number two. Swift wrote the album alone and co-produced every track.Speak Now, released on October 25, 2010, was a commercial success, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, and becoming the 16th album to achieve opening week sales of one million copies. It became the fastest-selling digital album by a female artist, with 278,000 downloads in a week, earning Swift an entry in the 2010 Guinness World Records. She earned a second entry after she became the first woman to achieve 10 track debuts on the Billboard Hot 100. Three of the album's singles, "Mine", "Back to December", and "Mean", peaked in the top ten in Canada. Later in 2010, she briefly dated actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
"Mean" won Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Swift performed it during the ceremony. Claire Suddath of Time felt she "delivered her comeback on-key and with a vengeance"; Jayme Deerwester of USA Today wrote that the criticism in 2010 seemed to have "made her a better songwriter and live performer". Swift won other awards for Speak Now, including Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriters Association (2010 and 2011), Woman of the Year by Billboard (2011), and Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music (2011 and 2012) and the Country Music Association in 2011. At the American Music Awards of 2011, Swift won Artist of the Year and Favorite Country Album.Rolling Stone placed Speak Now at number 45 in its 2012 list of the "50 Best Female Albums of All Time", writing: "She might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days, with a flawless ear for what makes a song click."
Red was released on October 22, 2012, incorporating new genres for Swift, such as heartland rock, dubstep and dance-pop. The album was a critical and commercial success, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 1.21 million copies. This marked the highest opening sales in a decade in the United States, and made Swift the first female to have two million-selling album openings, a record recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.The Red Tour ran from March 2013 to June 2014 and grossed over $150 million; the tour broke the ticket sales record in China with all 18,000 tickets sold in 60 seconds.Red earned several accolades, including four nominations at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Its single "I Knew You Were Trouble" won Best Female Video at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Swift was named Best Female Country Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and Artist of the Year at the 2013 ceremony. She received the Nashville Songwriters Association's Songwriter/Artist Award for the fifth and sixth consecutive years in 2012 and 2013. Swift was also honored by the Association with a special Pinnacle Award, making her the second recipient of the accolade after Garth Brooks. During this time, she had a short-term relationship with British singer Harry Styles.
In March 2014, Swift relocated to New York City. Around this time, she was working on her fifth studio album, 1989, with co-writers Antonoff, Max Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, Ryan Tedder, and Ali Payami. She promoted the album through various campaigns, including inviting fans to secret album-listening sessions. Credited as her "first documented, official pop album", it marked a departure from her country albums. The album was released on October 27, 2014, to positive reviews.
1989 sold 1.28 million copies in the U.S. during the first week of its release and debuted atop the Billboard 200. This made Swift the first act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in their opening release week, for which she earned another Guinness World Record. As of June 2017, 1989 had sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The lead single, "Shake It Off", was released in August 2014 and debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album generated two additional number-one singles—"Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" (featuring Kendrick Lamar)—as well as the top-ten entries "Style" and "Wildest Dreams", and other singles "Out of the Woods" and "New Romantics". "Shake It Off", "Blank Space", and "Bad Blood" also topped the charts in Australia and Canada. After "Blank Space" reached number one in the U.S. following "Shake It Off", Swift became the first woman in the Hot 100's history to "succeed herself at the top spot". The music video for "Blank Space" was briefly the fastest video to reach one billion views on Vevo. The videos for "Blank Space" and "Bad Blood" earned four nominations at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. "Bad Blood" won Video of the Year and Best Collaboration. Swift's headlining tour, the 1989 World Tour, running from May to December 2015, grossed over $250 million, and was highest-grossing tour of the year.
Swift was named Billboard's Woman of the Year in 2014—the first artist to win the award twice. That year she also received the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards. In 2015, "Shake It Off" was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year; Swift won the Brit Award for International Female Solo Artist. Swift was one of eight artists to receive a 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the 2015 Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2016, she won three Grammy Awards for 1989—Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Music Video for "Bad Blood". She became the first woman, and the fifth act, to win the first of these twice.
Prior to 1989's release, Swift stressed the importance of albums to artists and fans. In November 2014, she removed her entire catalog from the streaming service Spotify, arguing that its ad-supported free service undermined the premium service, which provides higher royalties for songwriters. In a June 2015 open letter, Swift criticized Apple Music for not offering royalties to artists during their free three-month trial period and said she would pull 1989 from the catalog. The following day, Apple announced it would pay artists during the free trial period, and Swift agreed to stream 1989 on their streaming service. Swift's intellectual property rights management and holding company, TAS Rights Management, filed for 73 trademarks related to Swift and the 1989 era memes. She re-released her entire catalog plus 1989 to Spotify, Amazon Music and Google Play and other digital streaming platforms in June 2017.
In August 2017, Swift successfully sued David Mueller, a former morning show personality for Denver's KYGO-FM. Four years earlier, Swift had informed Mueller's bosses that he had sexually assaulted her by groping her at an event. After being fired, Mueller accused Swift of lying and sued her for damages from his loss of employment. Shortly after, Swift counter-sued for sexual assault. The jury rejected Mueller's claims and ruled in favor of Swift. Swift thereafter cleared her social media accounts and then released "Look What You Made Me Do" as the lead single from her sixth album, Reputation. The song topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its music video had over 43.2 million views during its first day on YouTube, breaking the site's record for the most-viewed music video in 24 hours. In October, Swift released the album's second single "...Ready for It?", which charted at number three in Australia and at number four in the United States.
Two promotional singles were released from Reputation, "Gorgeous" and "Call It What You Want". "Gorgeous" later became the album's fifth single but was released as such only in Europe. The album was released on November 10. It sold 1.216 million copies in the United States becoming 2017's the country's top-selling album (pure sales only). First-week worldwide sales amounted to two million copies. With this achievement, she became the first act to have four albums sell one million copies within one week in the U.S. The album topped the charts in several countries, including the U.S., the UK, Australia, and Canada. Later that month, Swift performed "...Ready for It?" and "Call It What You Want" on Saturday Night Live. "End Game", featuring Ed Sheeran and rapper Future, followed in November as the third single; it peaked at number 18 in the U.S. Other singles from the album include "New Year's Day" released exclusively to country radio, and "Delicate".
Reputation was Swift's last album under her 12-year contract with Big Machine Records. In November 2018, Swift signed a new multi-album deal with Big Machine's distributor Universal Music Group; in the United States, her future releases will be promoted under the Republic Records imprint. Swift said the contract included a provision for her to maintain ownership of her master recordings. In addition, in the event that Universal sells any part of its stake in Spotify, Spotify agreed to distribute a non-recoupable portion of the proceeds among their artists. In late November, Big Machine Records released a Reputation Stadium Tour playlist for streaming services. The playlist includes every song performed on B-stages during the Reputation Stadium Tour. On December 31, Reputation Stadium Tour, a concert film, was released on Netflix.
Lover was released on August 23 to positive reviews, and debuted atop the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 679,000 copies. Upon the album's release, all of its 18 songs entered the Billboard Hot 100, setting the record for the most simultaneous chart entries for a female artist. At the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, the videos for "Me!" and "You Need to Calm Down" received twelve nominations. "Me!" won Best Visual Effects, and "You Need to Calm Down" won Video of the Year and Video for Good.
In June, Big Machine, Swift's former record label, was purchased by music manager Scooter Braun, including the masters for her first six albums. Swift voiced her displeasure in a Tumblr post, saying she had been trying to buy the masters for years and describing Braun as an "incessant, manipulative bully". In August, Swift announced plans to rerecord the albums in November 2020. Swift was cast as Bombalurina in the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats, which will be released on December 20, 2019.
One of Swift's earliest musical memories is listening to her maternal grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, sing in church. As a child, she enjoyed Disney film soundtracks: "My parents noticed that, once I had run out of words, I would just make up my own". Swift has said she owes her confidence to her mother, who helped her prepare for class presentations as a child. She also attributes her "fascination with writing and storytelling" to her mother. Swift was drawn to the storytelling aspect of country music, and was introduced to the genre listening to "the great female country artists of the '90s"—Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the Dixie Chicks. Twain, both as a songwriter and performer, was her biggest musical influence. Hill was Swift's childhood role model: "Everything she said, did, wore, I tried to copy it". She admired the Dixie Chicks' defiant attitude and their ability to play their own instruments. The band's "Cowboy Take Me Away" was the first song Swift learned to play on the guitar. Swift also explored the music of older country stars, including Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette. She believes Parton is "an amazing example to every female songwriter out there".Alt-country artists like Ryan Adams,Patty Griffin and Lori McKenna have also inspired Swift.
Swift lists Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones,Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Carly Simon as her career role models: "They've taken chances, but they've also been the same artist for their entire careers". McCartney, both as a Beatle and a solo artist, makes Swift feel "as if I've been let into his heart and his mind ... He's out there continuing to make his fans so happy. Any musician could only dream of a legacy like that." She admires Springsteen for being "so musically relevant after such a long period of time". She aspires to be like Harris as she grows older: "It's not about fame for her, it's about music". "[Kristofferson] shines in songwriting ... He's just one of those people who has been in this business for years but you can tell it hasn't chewed him up and spat him out", Swift says. She admires Simon's "songwriting and honesty ... She's known as an emotional person but a strong person".
Swift's music contains elements of pop,synth-pop,country,country pop, and rock. She described herself as a country artist until the 2014 release of 1989, which she characterized as a "sonically cohesive pop album".Rolling Stone wrote: "[Swift] might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days." According to The New York Times, "There isn't much in Ms. Swift's music to indicate country—a few banjo strums, a pair of cowboy boots worn onstage, a bedazzled guitar—but there's something in her winsome, vulnerable delivery that's unique to Nashville."The Guardian wrote that Swift "cranks melodies out with the pitiless efficiency of a Scandinavian pop factory."
Swift's vocals were described by Sophie Schillaci of The Hollywood Reporter as "sweet, but soft". The Los Angeles Times identified Swift's "defining" vocal gesture in studio recordings as "the line that slides down like a contented sigh or up like a raised eyebrow, giving her beloved girl-time hits their air of easy intimacy".Rolling Stone, in a Speak Now review, wrote: "Swift's voice is unaffected enough to mask how masterful she has become as a singer; she lowers her voice for the payoff lines in the classic mode of a shy girl trying to talk tough." In another review of Speak Now, The Village Voice wrote that her phrasing was previously "bland and muddled, but that's changed. She can still sound strained and thin, and often strays into a pitch that drives some people crazy; but she's learned how to make words sound like what they mean."The Hollywood Reporter wrote that her live vocals are "fine", but they do not match those of her peers. In 2009, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described Swift's vocals as "flat, thin, and sometimes as wobbly as a newborn colt". However, Swift has been praised for refusing to correct her pitch with Auto-Tune.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Swift characterized herself primarily as a songwriter: "I write songs, and my voice is just a way to get those lyrics across." A writer for The Tennessean conceded in 2010 that Swift is "not the best technical singer", but described her as the "best communicator that we've got". Swift's vocal presence is something that concerns her and she has "put a lot of work" into improving it. It was reported in 2010 that she continues to take vocal lessons. She has said that she only feels nervous performing "if I'm not sure what the audience thinks of me, like at award shows".
Swift uses her life experiences as an inspiration in her work. She often addresses the "anonymous crushes of her high school years" and celebrities in her early songs. Swift frequently criticizes ex-boyfriends, an aspect of her songwriting downplayed by The Village Voice: "Being told What Songs Mean is like having a really pushy professor. And it imperils a true appreciation of Swift's talent, which is not confessional, but dramatic." However, New York believes the media scrutiny over her decision to "mine her personal life for music ... is sexist, inasmuch as it's not asked of her male peers". Swift said that not all of her songs are factual and they are sometimes based on observations. Aside from clues provided in her liner notes, Swift tries not to talk about song subjects specifically "because these are real people. You try to give insight as to where you were coming from as a writer without completely throwing somebody under the bus."
Swift during her Speak Now World Tour in Pittsburgh, 2011
For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated—a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way—that's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.
— Swift in response to criticism of her songwriting
The Guardian has praised Swift for writing about teenage years "with a kind of wistful, sepia-toned nostalgia" over the course of her first two albums.New York has remarked that many singer-songwriters have made great records as teens, but "none made great records so explicitly about their teens". The magazine has also compared her work to Brian Wilson. In Fearless, Swift featured fairy tale imagery and explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love". Her later albums address more adult relationships. In addition to romance and love, Swift's songs have discussed parent-child relationships, friendships, alienation, fame, and career ambitions. Swift frequently includes "a tossed-off phrase to suggest large and serious things that won't fit in the song, things that enhance or subvert the surface narrative".
Rolling Stone describes Swift as "a songwriting savant with an intuitive gift for verse-chorus-bridge architecture". According to The Village Voice, she often uses third-verse point of view reversals. In terms of imagery, repetition is evident in Swift's songwriting. In The Guardian's words, "she spends so much time kissin' in the rain that it seems a miracle she hasn't developed trenchfoot".Slant Magazine adds, "to Swift's credit, she explores new lyrical motifs over the course of [her fourth] album". Although reviews of Swift's work are "almost uniformly positive", The New Yorker has said she is generally portrayed "more as a skilled technician than as a Dylanesque visionary".
Swift has collaborated with many different directors to produce her music videos, and over time she has become more involved with writing and directing. She has her own production house, Taylor Swift Productions, Inc., which is credited with producing the music video for "Me!". In 2010, Swift co-directed the music video for "Mine" with Roman White. In 2011, she continued to collaborate with White on the music videos for "Mean" and "Ours". Swift developed the concept and treatment for "Mean". In an interview, White elaborated that Swift "was keenly involved in writing the treatment, casting and wardrobe. And she stayed for both the 15-hour shooting days, even when she wasn't in the scenes." Swift wrote the concept for the "Ours" music video and then brought in White to direct, describing her vision of both videos as being "storylines".
From 2014 to 2018, Swift collaborated with director Joseph Kahn on eight music videos—four each from her albums 1989 and Reputation. Kahn has praised Swift's involvement in the craft. In 2016, Swift worked with American Express for her "Blank Space" music video (which Kahn directed), and released the interactive app AMEX Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience. Swift received starring and executive producer credit, and in 2015 won a Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Interactive Program category for the app.
In 2018, Swift developed the concept and then wrote the treatment for the music video for the Sugarland song "Babe". She co-starred in the video with the two members of Sugarland Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, directed by Anthony Mandler. Nettles described it as "cinematic" and "a period piece", while Bush referenced its Mad Men influences. Nettles also said, "I have a feeling we'll see her directing at some point soon, because she was really good at it." In 2019, Swift co-directed the music videos for "Me!" with Dave Meyers and "You Need to Calm Down" with Drew Kirsch. She also co-executive produced the latter with Todrick Hall. In August 2019, she revealed in an interview that she wrote the treatments for the two music videos as well. Swift also co-directed her 2019 "Lover" music video with Kirsch. At the 2019 VMAs she won Video of the Year for "You Need to Calm Down", becoming the second artist and the first female artist to win the award for a video that they co-directed.
Swift's personal life is the subject of constant media attention. In 2013, Abercrombie & Fitch marketed a slogan T-shirt with a "slut-shaming" remark directed toward her.The New York Times asserted in 2013 that her "dating history has begun to stir what feels like the beginning of a backlash". They questioned whether Swift was in the midst of a "quarter-life crisis". Swift has said she is unwilling to discuss her personal life in public; she believes that talking about it can be "a career weakness". In 2015, singer Ray Stevens released his album Here We Go Again which included the single "Taylor Swift is Stalking Me".
Swift at the 2010 Time 100 Gala in Manhattan, where she was honored
Rolling Stone remarks upon her polite manner: "If this is Swift's game face, it must be tattooed on because it never drops." The magazine also takes note of her "ease with glad-handing", and The Hollywood Reporter has credited her as "the Best People Person since Bill Clinton". While presenting Swift with an award for her humanitarian endeavors in 2012, Michelle Obama described her as a singer who "has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps her feet on the ground, someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year-old can accomplish". Swift considers Michelle Obama to be a role model. Swift is one of the most-followed people on social media, and is known for her friendly interactions with her fans. She has delivered holiday gifts to fans by mail and in person, dubbed "Swiftmas". She considers it her "responsibility" to be conscious of her influence on young fans, and has said they are "the longest and best relationship I have ever had".
Often described by the media as "America's Sweetheart", Swift insists she does not "live by all these rigid, weird rules that make me feel all fenced in. I just like the way that I feel like, and that makes me feel very free". She refuses to take part in overly sexualized photo-shoots, although Bloomberg L.P. views her as a sex symbol.Vogue named Swift an Icon of American Style in 2011. In 2014 she topped People's annual best dressed list. In 2015, she was named Woman of the Year at the Elle Style Awards, and ranked first on Maxim's Hot 100 list.
Swift has also appeared in various power listings. Time included her on its annual list of the 100 most influential people in 2010, 2015, and 2019. From 2011 to 2015, she appeared in the top three on the Forbes Top-Earning Women in Music list with earnings of $45 million, $57 million, $55 million, $64 million, and $80 million respectively. Swift again topped the list in 2016 with earnings of $170 million, and placed in the top three in 2017 and 2018, earning $44 million and $80 million. Her 2016 earnings also topped Forbes' annual list of the 100 highest-paid celebrities—a feat that was entered into the Guinness World Records. She topped the list in 2019 with $185 million, and ranked among the top ten in 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2015, Swift became the youngest woman ever to be included on Forbes' list of the 100 most powerful women, ranked at number 64. She was one of the finalists for Time Person of the Year in 2014 and was awarded the honor in 2017 as one of the "Silence Breakers" who spoke up about sexual assault. In June 2019, Forbes estimated Swift's net worth at $360 million.
Swift's philanthropic efforts have been recognized by the Do Something Awards and the Tennessee Disaster Services. She has also received The Big Help Award for her "dedication to helping others" and "inspiring others through action", and the Ripple of Hope Award for her "dedication to advocacy at such a young age". As she presented the award to Swift, RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy said: "Taylor is just the kind of woman we want our daughters to be: authentic and mighty. Willing to take a risk and strong enough to walk away." In 2008, she donated $100,000 to the Red Cross to help the victims of the flood in Iowa that year. Swift has performed at charity relief events including Sydney's Sound Relief concert. She also recorded a song for the Hope for Haiti Now album. In response to the May 2010 Tennessee floods, Swift donated $500,000 during a telethon hosted by WSMV. In 2011, Swift used a dress rehearsal of her Speak Now tour as a benefit concert for victims of recent tornadoes in the United States, raising more than $750,000. In 2012, Swift supported Architecture for Humanity's Restore the Shore MTV telethon in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In 2016, she made a $1,000,000 donation to Louisiana flood relief efforts and donated to the Dolly Parton Fire Fund. In 2017, Swift made a donation to the Houston Food Bank after Hurricane Harvey struck the city.
Swift is a supporter of the arts and donated $75,000 to Nashville's Hendersonville High School in 2010 to help refurbish the school auditorium. In 2012, she pledged $4 million to fund the building of a new education center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Also, in 2012 Swift partnered with textbook rental company Chegg to donate $60,000 to the music departments of six U.S. colleges. Swift also promotes children's literacy. In 2009, she donated $250,000 to various schools around the country to improve education. Her other endeavors to promote literacy included donating 6,000 Scholastic books to the Reading Public Library in Pennsylvania; 14,000 books to the Nashville Public Library in Tennessee; 2,000 Scholastic books to the Reading Hospital Child Health Center's early literacy program; and 25,000 books to New York City schools in 2015. The same year, Swift donated all proceeds from the sale of the promotional single "Welcome to New York", at the time $50,000, to the New York City Department of Education. In 2019, Swift sampled a song by the Toronto-based Regent Park School of Music in her album Lover, thus enabling the school to earn royalties from her album; she also made a personal donation.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Swift promoted the Every Woman Counts campaign, aimed at engaging women in the political process. She was one of many country stars to record a PSA for the Vote (For Your) Country campaign. She said: "I don't think it's my job to try and influence people which way they should vote." Following Barack Obama's inauguration, she told Rolling Stone that she supported the president: "I've never seen this country so happy about a political decision in my entire time of being alive. I'm so glad this was my first election."
In a 2012 interview, Swift remarked that in spite of keeping herself "as educated and informed as possible", she does not discuss politics, fearing that might influence other people. Writing about media pressure on Swift to take public political stances, Politico called Swift "studiously apolitical". Swift is a feminist and pro-choice. She has spoken out against LGBT discrimination and white supremacy. Following the 2008 murder of Larry King, she recorded a GLSEN PSA aimed at combating hate crimes. On the first anniversary of King's death, Swift told Seventeen that her parents taught her "never to judge others based on whom they love, what color their skin is, or their religion". The music video for Swift's anti-bullying song "Mean" deals in part with homophobia in high schools; it was nominated for an MTV VMA social activism award in 2011.The New York Times believes she is part of "a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages".
While promoting her fourth album, Red, Swift offered exclusive album promotions through Target,Papa John's Pizza, and Walgreens. She became a spokesmodel for Diet Coke, and Keds sneakers, released her third Elizabeth Arden fragrance named Taylor by Taylor Swift, and continued her partnerships with Sony Electronics and American Greetings. Swift also partnered with the companies AirAsia and Qantas during the Red Tour. These acted as the official airlines for the Australian and Asian legs; Cornetto sponsored the Asian leg of the tour. While promoting 1989, Swift had tie-ins with Subway, Keds, Target and Diet Coke. In 2014, Swift released her fourth fragrance, Incredible Things.
Swift signed a multi-year deal with AT&T in 2016. She later headlined DirecTV's Super Saturday Night, the night prior to the 2017 Super Bowl. While promoting Reputation, Swift released a series of behind-the-scenes videos showing the album recording process through DirecTV. In 2018, Swift released two commercials for AT&T. The same year, Swift partnered with Fujifilm on a special-edition autographed Instax camera, which includes a selfie-mode and double exposure. In 2019, Swift signed a multi-year partnership with Capital One.
Swift has sold more than 50 million albums—including 32.7 million in the U.S.—150 million single downloads, and was one of the top five music artists with the highest worldwide digital sales. Swift's studio albums Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989 have all sold over four million copies in the U.S. She is the third best-selling digital singles artist in the U.S. with a total of 120 million equivalent units certified according to the Recording Industry Association of America.