music / Columns

411 Music Fact or Fiction: Will Taylor Swift’s Reputation Sell 2 Million Copies?

November 11, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Taylor Swift Look What You Made Me Do 1

Welcome to the 411 Music Fact or Fiction! This week, Joseph Lee takes on Jeremy Thomas.

Marilyn Manson was out of line pointing a fake rifle at a concert the same day as a shooting.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – If you’re willing to accept one aspect you free speech you have to accept all of it. The people who paid to see Marilyn Manson came there, at least partially, for his act. His act is to shock you. If you are offended then maybe you aren’t his target audience.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – I kind of went back and forth on this, but ultimately we have to consider who we’re talking about here. Marilyn Manson has built his career on transgressive statements, music and actions. This is absolutely one of those situations. Let’s be frank; does anyone actually think that if Manson is on stage in the middle of a concert, he’s going to point an actual gun at his audience members and start taking shots or something? Assuming we don’t (and we shouldn’t), this is pretty much standard operating procedure for him. Yes, it has people upset and offended, and that’s Manson’s point. It’s about context here; if you’re on stage and you have a fake prop attached to your microphone, you’re probably okay. If you’re in the audience and you pull out the same fake prop, you’re probably not.

Meek Mill’s prison sentence was too harsh.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – I don’t know, I feel like if Meek Mill were not a celebrity he’d have it even worse. The guy was arrested twice this year and while those cases were dropped, it’s still two probation violations. Sure, the judge may be biased, but let’s not act like Meek hasn’t messed up.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – This is not an easy one, because we’re talking about a long and involved situation involving an extended probation and probation violations. Probation is something where judges get a fair amount of leeway, and I am not exactly studied up on my sentencing procedures in the jurisdiction in question. As such, there isn’t much of a definitive way for me to say one way or the other in a hard-and-fast fashion. That said, there are nuances to this which certainly give me pause, such as the judges’ apparent over-interest in Mill, which give me pause. Bias doesn’t necessarily mean that a judgment is too harsh, but I’m going to lean on the side of skepticality here.

Taylor Swift’s new album will get the two million sales executives are predicting.

Joseph Lee: FACT – Regardless of how you or I or anyone else may feel about Taylor Swift, she’s incredibly successful. She’s also a smart businesswoman, not entirely playing ball with the streaming services and keeping a tight grip on her intellectual property. She’s been marketing the hell out of Reputation and the buzz around it likely means it’s going to be huge.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – And that’s not a bad thing. Two million is an incredible number these days that is nearly impossible to acheive, even if you aren’t on streaming services right away. The sales reports of Swift’s first singles and the fact that the industry has changed a little since 1989 suggests to me that it will fall short of two million, probably right around 1989’s numbers (1.287 million). That’s a megahit by just about any metric and should be huge for Swift and her label, Big Machine. The album could always overperform, but I do doubt it will shoot that high.


A Perfect Circle were within their rights to throw out fans for taking photos at a concert.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – This one is real simple, folks. Whether anyone thinks it is a dumb policy or not, APC had signs actually taped to the back of every chair in the venue which told attendees that photos and video were not allowed and taking them would result in ejection. People still took photos, thinking they wouldn’t get caught or that they wouldn’t really get kicked out, and they were wrong. If you know the rules going into something and you break them, you should expect the pre-warned about consequences to happen.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I actually went to an APC concert earlier this year and yes, the signs are there. You’d have to be blind to not see them. But people are arrogant enough to think they’re above the rules and then whine when they get caught.

Taylor Swift has no legal ground to stand on against bloggers for criticizing her.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – God damn it, Taylor, don’t make me side with click-baity people. Yeah, there’s not much that Swift can do here for the most part. I will note that the person that she sent a cease-and-desist letter to didn’t just criticize her music; she referred to the music as as evidence that Swift intentionally courted a white supremacist fanbase with “Look What You Made Me Do.” That’s the kind of logical leap that makes my head hurt. Seriously, it takes a HUGE stretch to claim that ““I don’t like your kingdom keys. They once belonged to me. You asked me for a place to sleep. Locked me out and threw a feast” is an intentional reference to white supremacy’s thoughts on how they’re losing their power.

That said, the smart thing to do would have been to let this shit go. Swift doesn’t have any legal ground here because it does not legally constitute defamation. Artistic interpretation is based on analysis and subjectivity, which is not facts. By sending off a legal letter — one which idiotically tried to pretend publishing said letter would violate the Copyright Act — Swift just amplified the readership of this person by several magnitudes. Swift should fire her lawyers — immediately after sending an equally toothless legal threat to me for some reason or another. Here, let’s see… “‘Style’ caters to sexual harassers in the fashion industry.” Bring it on, Taylor. I’m all for a bit of traffic boosting!

Joseph Lee: FACT – I’m not well-versed in legal stuff but I would think that if someone is simply expression an opinion, no matter how off-the-wall the opinion may be, it’s not libel. So if someone’s writing a blog giving their interpretation of the lyrics, Taylor can’t sue. Now if they said Taylor Swift is a white supremacist and loves the n word, that might be a little different. Once again, it’s hazy to me. But I’m going to say that Swift is in the wrong here.

You’re interested in a memoir from Lily Allen.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION: I like Lily Allen as a musical artist, but I don’t have a huge amount of interest about her life. From what I know of it, she’s definitely a product of her own efforts for success but I don’t find anything in her life story that requires a full expounding on for me. Other people will certainly read it and be interested, but as it currently stands I’m just not that keen on a Lily Allen autobiography.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – I don’t care for Allen’s music and I don’t have an interest in her life story. So I’m gonna take a hard pass on this one.

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