If you want to understand how the music industry works, all you have to do is follow Taylor Swift. Justin Bieber is poised for an implosion. Beyoncé is a little too powerful—few artists can drop a new album with absolutely no promotional campaign, price it at $15.99, and sell 830,000 copies in the first weekend. But Swift is the sort of megastar who always plays by the rules. She releases one album every other fall and promotes it with a big arena tour; the one for her last album, 2012’s Red, lasted seven months. She endorses Diet Coke (KO) and Keds (WWW). Her love songs are so idealized that she actually wrote one about Romeo and Juliet.
Taylor Swift does not try something new until she knows that it will work—and that she can do it right.