Songwriters are understandably concerned about getting paid for their craft when their work is used by artists in various forms of media. Digital media -- the legitimate kinds like Amazon and iTunes or illegitimate kinds like the former Napster and other file-sharing sites -- have caused a sea change in the music industry that has resulted in a tremendous loss of staff songwriting jobs, closing of publisher offices, etc. A recent posting on the LefsitzLetter focuses on the changing nature of the music business. I found this quite interesting:
"The major labels and in most cases the big promoters are built for a business that doesn't exist anymore. It's falling of its own weight. A new business is being born, of small acts that may never achieve world domination, but satiate hard core fans and then die. Or live. Depending on the perseverance and tenacity of the players. They're performing for the love of it. They see their fans as equals. And the fans don't look like reality TV stars, but regular people.
In other words, music is leading the way once again.
In an era when movies are unwatchable bloated behemoths made for worldwide consumption by people who in many cases don't even speak English, when big time TV is all about the lowest common denominator, reality shows featuring nitwits who will do anything for money, music is about emotion, expression, unfiltered, from the performer directly to the fan.
Anybody who says the Internet revolution killed music is invested in the old ways. There's a vibrant scene. Being built by people who those in power won't give a chance. There's a burgeoning audience. It may be incomprehensible to oldsters, but the youngsters understand."
This really explains the Taylor Swift phenomenon. Her career is built on going directly to her audience. She has done this masterfully. She is far ahead of the curve. Other artists have picked up on it, like Lady Antebellum. They understand the mindset of social networking and are going with the wave rather than resisting it.