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2014 in music: the year of Taylor Swift

By AFP RelaxNewsEvents - 11 December 2014 1:20 PM | Updated 1:21 PM

2014 in music: the year of Taylor Swift

From her expert use of social media to her highly publicized reflections on the music industry, Taylor Swift has caught the public's attention multiple times in a year that's seen the country singer reinvent herself as a full-blown pop star via her latest, chart-topping album, '1989'.

"Love affair" between artist and fans

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Taylor Swift released a chart-topping album in 2014, but her success didn't end there | Photo: AFP

In July, Swift wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal offering up her thoughts on music sales and the industry's future, referring to herself as "an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying...it's just coming alive."

Among her points: that having fans will get artists record deals rather than the other way around, something she exemplifies in her strong social media presence.

Leading up her album launch, Swift made smart use of social networks, announcing the LP in a Yahoo! livestream while taking questions from fans via Instagram, Skype and Twitter, later counting down to the launch with snapshots of lyrics on Instagram, and inviting some lucky followers to her home for private listening parties.

"I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other," she wrote in the WSJ, "so why can't this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?"

Genres "less of a career-defining path"

In her op-ed, Swift alluded to something fans could expect of her later in the year, when her decidedly non-country album '1989' came out.

She said, "I want to make music that reflects all of my influences, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of genres will become less of a career-defining path and more of an organizational tool."

Her pop album was released in late October and topped charts in a dozen countries, becoming the first of the year to go platinum in the US.

"People are still buying albums"

Immediately following the release of '1989', Swift made headlines again when she took her entire catalog off the streaming service Spotify.

In her op-ed, Swift had expessed optimism about people's interest in albums but also acknowledged that streaming -- along with file-sharing and piracy -- was shrinking album sales.

Despite Swift's absence on Spotify, in December '1989' topped the very first Billboard US album chart to incorporate streaming figures and song downloads as well as physical and digital sales, showing her enthusiastic optimism may not be far off the mark.