Unconventional Negotiators

Taylor Swift & The Music Industry

When you think of negotiators, often famous examples such as Barack Obama or Angela Merkel spring to mind. However, at &FLUENCE we believe that successful negotiations happen in all different contexts and life situations. In this new series, we want to shine a light on more unusual negotiators, highlight their achievements and how we can apply them in our negotiations. First up: Taylor Swift!


There will be few people in the world that do not know the name Taylor Swift. She has been a constant in the music industry for over 15 years, producing countless hits and winning every prestigious music award under the sun. However, few also know Miss Swift as a successful negotiator – here are some of our learnings:

  • Don’t compromise on your #needtohaves: In the early stages of streaming, Taylor Swift had several run-ins with industry giants Spotify & Apple Music on the rights & fair remuneration of artists in the streaming world. Despite being called “difficult” and “entitled” by many media outlets, Swift stuck to her guns and even took parts of her music catalog off these streaming services. Both companies made significant changes to their artist policies & nowadays you will be able to dance along to all of Swift’s work on both platforms again. A great example of absolutes in a negotiation & sticking to your principles over insufficient compromises!
  • Explore other #options: In 2020, the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums were sold without her knowledge, leaving the singer furious. Now, she could have ended up in an energy draining arm-wrestling match about the rights with the sellers. Instead, the singer decided to make an unprecedented move and re-record all of the affected albums, rendering the originals worthless. By exploring out-of-the box solutions to the situation and looking at her interests rather than positions, the singer has shown us that often, there are more possible outcomes to a negotiation than just compromising on price or letting the other party control the game.
  • Play your #strengths: Both for the rerecording of her albums as well as for her previous discussion with streaming companies, Swift has had to deal with a power imbalance. Instead of playing into the corporate style of negotiations her negotiation partners were highly skilled at, She relied on one of her own strengths: her popularity and fan-base. The public opinion provided her with extra leverage at the negotiation table, whilst simultaneously building pressure on her negotiation partners to come to an agreement. This shows that, next to playing your strengths,  it is equally important to evaluate the external context the negotiation takes place in than just the interaction itself.


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