If there's one musician who really understands the power of her fandom, it's Taylor Swift. She has the ability to release (and re-release) hit songs, go on a record-breaking tour, get people excited for her to show up to a football game to support her boyfriend, and debut some epic street style, all in the same year! Swifties—devoted Swift fans—have an encyclopedic understanding of her music and life, in part because she has had such a long and successful career for such a young age, but also because she deliberately communicates to her fans as friends through social media and through her work. If you want to get lost in a four-hour conversation, ask a Swiftie about their favorite Easter eggs from her music, videos, and life. Swift's ability to connect and hold her fans' interest is unparalleled.
Frankly, it's hard to limit a list of her best decisions to just 34; Swift has evolved her style (musical and otherwise) in myriad different ways. The research for this article isn't just limited to her enormous output out in the world—we asked Swifties to weigh in directly about what they loved most about her brilliance. Below, 34 times Taylor Swift was an absolute boss.
Insuring Her Legs
This has very much not been confirmed, but (reportedly) Swift has had her legs insured for $40(!) million (in case she is injured and to mitigate losses). Always game to make fun of stories about her, Swift later joked that her cat Meredith owes her $40 million after scratching her leg.
Buying Adult Websites With Her Name
According to MTV News, in 2015 Taylor Swift bought the domain names TaylorSwift.porn and TaylorSwift.adult as a precautionary measure to prevent producers of adult films cashing in on her name and likeness. Wow, I would never have even thought of this, but brilliant.
Sharing Profits and Giving Bonuses
Described by Northeastern University as "Swiftonomics," some of Swift's business decisions impact entire economies (such as the revenue she brings to cities and towns when she tours there). She also reportedly gave out staff bonuses during her Eras tour, including $100,000 apiece to the 50 to 80 truck drivers who haul her equipment. She also donated to food banks all along the tour route!
After starting in country music, evolving into pop, and then evolving again to bring in a number of different influences into her music (including indie folk, electro pop, and alternative rock), Swift somehow manages to make all her music sound distinctively hers.
Leaning In on Her (Gender-Neutral) Name
Taylor Swift's very smart parents gave her a gender-neutral name, Swift explained in a 2009 Rolling Stone interview. "My mom thought it was cool that if you got a business card that said 'Taylor' you wouldn't know if it was a guy or a girl," she explained. And she has referenced this—most notably in her song and music video for "The Man."
Putting Out Vault Tracks
In case you missed it, Swift will release "vault songs" or "vault tracks," i.e., songs that didn't make the cut of the original album, getting "bumped" to a future release date. These can be songs she ultimately did release, or songs we haven't heard before, but either way, it's a cool look behind her process.
Hosting Secret Sessions
For 1989, reputation, and Lover, Swift hosted "secret sessions," handpicking fans and supporters and inviting them to a small and intimate location (including, apparently, her house), so they can hear an album before its release. It's top secret, but she will sometimes release videos and details after the fact.
Having Informed Takes
Swift has become more and more vocal about causes she care about, from educating herself about Juneteenth (and giving her staff the day off) to tweeting about Confederate statues, saying in part that it "isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure but it might bring us one small step closer to making ALL Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe—not just the white ones."
Being Picky About Collaborations
Swift can be incredibly smart and selective about the people she works with (and doesn't work with), which means she doesn't do it all the time—but the musicians she aligns with say she's incredibly supportive. Ed Sheeran told Hollywood Reporter that she even introduced him to her collaborator, The National’s Aaron Dessner, and encouraged them to work together.
Supporting Up-and-Coming Musicians
When Swift particularly likes a musician, she supports them, from giving them a shoutout all the way up to (in the case of Phoebe Bridgers) becoming close friends, bringing her along for part of her Eras tour, featuring on a song ("Nothing New"), and becoming true collaborators.
Being Smart on Social Media
Taylor Swift was connecting directly with fans and treating them as friends via social media way before a lot of people were (including in her country days). Through extra, exclusive content, the occasional live video (some of which are totally unannounced), and strategically posting (but not overposting), it's an important part of her brand.
Promoting Physical Album Sales
By treating her physical albums and vinyls as collectors' items (both because of their limited edition status and fans' ability to buy them in minutes), according to The Telegraph, Swift pushed vinyl sales to a 33-year high: six million vinyl units in a year. Which is absolutely epic!
Giving Great Street Style
When she's in New York, Swift is regularly photographed in fabulously put-together outfits. Her personal style has evolved as she's gotten older (and gone through various "eras" in her music), and if an item she wears is still for sale, fans often identify it and buy it quickly.
Posting Her Own "Pap" Photos
In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Swift explained why she posted bikini shots from a vacation. “I don’t want them to make like $100,000 for stalking us...So we’re like, ‘Get up on the bow of the boat, we’re taking better bikini shots.’ So they don’t make as much money on theirs!”
Supporting Her Friends in Public
Supporting a friend who's going through a contentious divorce by taking them out to dinner? A great friend. Publicly showing support for that friend by taking them out to dinner where a bunch of paparazzi will be and (without saying a word) absolutely demolishing their mutual ex? Taylor Swift!
Having an Epic Girl Squad
Swift has acquired a ton of friends over the course of her long career, including celebrities Selena Gomez and Gigi Hadid, and has shown public support for her besties—like singing with Gomez on stage, for example, or accompanying Hayley Williams to Hayley's ex's wedding.
Making Nice With "Enemies"
Some (but not all!) of the people that Swift has had public "beef" with end up being people she later reconciled with in public fashion. Notable celebs on this list include Nicki Minaj, Taylor Lautner, and (in an epic music video appearance in "You Need to Calm Down") Katy Perry.
Dealing With the "Dads, Brads, and Chads"
After irritated NFL fans complained Swift was shown on camera too much at Kansas City Chiefs games—something Swift has no control over, btw—she used the epic phrase "Dads, Brads, and Chads" to explain she wasn't worried about the people getting mad at her. (Never mind that she was there to support boyfriend Travis Kelce, and that Kelce has never been criticized for excitedly going to her show.) Fans also note that one of her earlier songs, "Mean," has the following lyric: "Talking over a football game with that same big loud opinion but nobody’s listening."
Doing a Netflix Documentary
When Swift chose to do a documentary, Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, her decision to put it on the popular streaming service Netflix (thus making it accessible to fans—just before the pandemic, no less), and share revealing details about her music and life meant that it was an instant must-watch.
Being Smart About Streaming
When Swift pulled all her music from Spotify, seemingly out of the blue in 2014, she wrote an essay in Washington Post explaining, "Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” She has campaigned against free streaming; Her music is back on Spotify, and reportedly she made $100 million from the streaming service in 2023.
Copywriting Her Lyrics
Merchandising can be big business, and it might be easy for a seller to pull a random phrase, put it on a shirt, and sell it as Taylor Swift merch. So Swift copywrote phrases from her music to preempt this, including “party like it’s 1989,” “this sick beat,” and “can show you incredible things.”
Proving She Writes Her Own Music
After critics complained/basically accused her of not writing her own songs, Swift rebounded by releasing her album "Speak Now," which was her first full album where she had solo writing credit. It was her 12th album to top the Billboard 200 chart (and was also popular upon re-release).
Making Her Tours Full Experiences
When you go to a Taylor Swift concert, you're signing up for an experience, with Swift pouring her whole soul into putting on a good show, with fun details for good measure (including different surprise songs every night). The most notable example might actually be a reference to her "Reputation" era, which was defined by snake insignia (a reference to a tweet by Kim Kardashian); During her Eras tour, fans' wristbands lit up to form a giant, moving snake made of light(!!).
Identifying Special Numbers
If you're a Swiftie, you know her "numbers": Her favorite number is 13 (she considers it her "lucky number"), her birth year is 1989, and 34 (the age she turned after her final Eras tour date of 2023) is significant to her as well. She makes references to the numbers regularly, and fans do too.
Giving Only a Few Interviews
Swift is actually a pretty private person, particularly when it comes to media interviews. Her modern strategy is to do a few comprehensive interviews in which she shares important details fans want to know, and otherwise keeping communication channels exclusively with her fans.
From speaking out publicly when other celebrities are cruel to her (ahem, Kanye and Kim) to taking back the narrative when trolls try to get the better of her (turning a flood of snake emojis from comments into a huge part of her identity), Swift absolutely reclaims her power when people come for her.
Dressing Up as Her "Eras"
The Eras tour documented Swift's 10 albums through "musical eras" of her life (and there have been many!). But it wasn't just her music: Her outfits channeled the various points in her life when she's been making music, from grand sweeping ballgowns to sparkly bodysuits to fringe and a guitar.
Being Fun and Exciting With Relationships
Depending on the relationship, Swift can share a little or a lot, but she's pretty legendary for talking about her exes in song. She probably hit a new peak with football player Travis Kelce, though, showing up to support him (and vice versa) in very public ways. Not to mention: Her presence at Kelce's football games has introduced a whole new audience (a.k.a. her fans) to the NFL.
Managing Her Exposure
Swift does very much have a knack for knowing when she's overexposed (meaning, she's getting the impression that people are tired of talking about her and steps back a bit from public life, appearing less and getting everyone to miss her again). One of the most notable periods was her very private relationship with Joe Alwyn.
Making a Concert Film
If you never made it to the (immensely popular, essentially sold out immediately) Eras tour, Swift made a concert film that gave fans much the same experience. It was interactive (singing and dancing was encouraged) and she gave fun little Easter eggs for fans, like the cost of tickets: $19.89 for adults and $13.13 for children and seniors.
In a countersuit against a DJ citing battery and sexual assault stemming from an incident in 2013, Swift asked for a symbolic $1 in damages—and she won. She also referenced this moment via a $1 bill Easter egg in "Look What You Made Me Do." Fans cite this as an empowering moment that enabled them to speak out about their own experiences.
Easter Eggs in Her Lyrics, Videos, and Clothing
Swift is the absolute queen of Easter eggs—noting that it's sometimes how she likes to communicate with fans, and has done since the very beginning of her career—and it inspires people to discuss what her little hints mean. (She had Easter eggs in her NYU commencement speech in 2022!) Fans cited her gold outfit and sword earrings in this outfit to mean that she was just about to release her re-recorded version of "Speak Now." And another, often-discussed Easter egg is her "no scooters" sign in her video of "The Man."
On the album Midnights, Swift sang the line, "So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it" on her song "You're On Your Own, Kid." Fans jumped on this immediately, making and trading friendship bracelets at her concert. Travis Kelce brought one to give to her at her concert—and give her his number!!
Re-Releasing Her Own Music
After her "worst-case scenario" happened (Scooter Braun bought Swift's old label and acquired the masters for her first six albums), Swift began releasing re-recordings of her classic songs to reclaim her music and even update some of her songs. Fans have loved it, and so have new, often younger fans who are discovering her for the first time.