Taylor Swift and Launch Cadence

May 13, 2023

From 2006-2019, Taylor Swift released albums every 2 years — around the industry standard (although extremely impressive to sustain for so long).

But in 2019, Taylor started increasing the velocity. In 2019, she recorded one album. In 2020, during the pandemic, two albums. In 2021, two more. In 2022, another. And there’s one slated for release in July this year. So that’s 7 albums in 4 years. She’s not the only one with the skill and discipline to have a launch cadence like this.

  • The Beatles released 12 albums from 1963 to 1970.
  • James Brown released 59 studio albums over his career (1958-2002).
  • Prince released 42 studio albums over his career (1978-2015).
  • Bob Dylan released 39 studio albums, 95 singles, 18 EPs, and 15 live albums (1962-2021).

Product velocity isn’t causation for talent — these artists were surely talented before they increased their launch cadence. There might be survivorship bias: the best artists are the most likely to have long careers and thus release more albums. Releasing often doesn’t mean your music is good.

But there are no downsides to the strategy: either you have the talent, and you should produce as much as you can, or you don’t, and you should practice (i.e., produce) as much as you can to get better. If it doesn’t ship, it doesn’t exist.