Taylor Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania and spent her early years on a Christmas tree farm.  Her father is a a financial adviser with the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch.  At the age of 9, Swift became interested in musical theater, performed in school productions and traveled to New York for vocal and acting lessons.  On the weekends, she performed at fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, Boy Scout meetings and sporting events. When eleven years old, Swift won a local talent competition and had the opportunity to be the opening act for a local Charlie Daniels show.
Having won a poetry contest, she set her sights on songwriting. In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow who got a development deal for Swift with RCA Records.
At the age of 14, the Swift family moved to Tennessee to support Taylor’s ambitions.  Through her deal with RCA, Taylor met Liz Rose, an established songwriter who was to become an integral and long-term songwriting collaborator. The family parted ways with Dan Dymtrow resulting in a lawsuit. A live showcase led to interest from Scott Borchetta of DreamWorks Records who was starting his own indie label called Big Machine Records.  Scott Swift, Taylor’s father, bought a 3% stake in Big Machine, valued at a cost of $120,000.
Her first album “Taylor Swift” was released in October 2006 to rapturous reviews in Rolling Stone and The New York Times. The breakout single “Tim McGraw” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Swift toured heavily in 2006 and 2007, used the internet to the max and conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans before and after her concerts. Taylor went on to win a Country Music Association’s ‘Horizon Award for Best New Artist’, the Academy of Country Music Awards’s ‘Top New Female Vocalist’ award and the American Music Award’s ‘Favorite Country Female Artist’ honor.

Take-Away Points

1. Rarely is someone successful alone-we need either family support, powerful friends, or believers with a large contact list to move forward.
2. Money matters. Having access to it can open door and secure the services of top people.
3. Artists who believe in themselves will play at the opening of an envelope. Perform anywhere for anyone- you never know who’ll see you and like what you do.  You’re one person away from a career.
4. Cultivate and be good to your fan base.  They will repay you by spreading the good word.