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Read Taylor Swift’s Speech on the ‘Magical, Mystical’ Art of Songwriting When Accepting NMPA Icon Award

Taylor Swift was honored with the National Music Publishers Association’s Songwriter Icon Award during the trade organization’s annual membership meeting on Wednesday (June 9), which was held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.

In presenting the award, NMPA president/CEO David Israelite spoke not only of her achievements as a songwriter and artist, but also of her work as an advocate for creators, particularly noting that she had pulled her music from Spotify for three years in a successful effort to improve its royalty payments, and also for speaking out against Apple Music’s policies regarding royalties on trial subscriptions — which were reversed the day after she spoke.

After Swift’s speech, which follows in full below, Sara Bareilles performed Swift’s song 2014 song “Clean,” and told a touching story about how she had joined Swift onstage at a stadium concert, only to sing off-key because she couldn’t hear herself in her ear monitors due to the loudly screaming fans. She spoke of Swift coming to console her as she sat, crushed, in her hotel room, and thanked her graciously for her kindness.

A rep for the NMPA tells Variety that elements from the meeting will be published online in the coming days.

Swift’s acceptance speech follows in full:

Thank you, David, for that beautiful introduction.

I’m really, really honored to be receiving this award because it honors the part of my job that is so magical and mystical to me, still. I love songwriting so much because there’s an element to it that is still really mysterious — like I think any songwriter will tell you, when you get an idea you’re not quite sure where it floated down from, but if you can grab onto that idea and turn it into something, a piece of music, that’s where craftsmanship comes in; that’s where you have the opportunity to learn and to nurture that craft, and I want to take a moment to thank the people who were my professors, my teachers, of the craft of songwriting.

First of all, to anyone who wrote with me in Nashville when I was in eighth or ninth grade: That is insane that you did that, and I am so lucky that I got to learn from some of the best writers on Music Row. Liz Rose was someone who spent hours and hours and hours with me when there was absolutely no sign that anything would happen in my career. My dance card was not full, I was 14, and she wrote with me so many times and taught me how to edit my ideas down into something that would pack an emotional punch.

Then, later in my career, I got to work with Max Martin and Johan Shellback, who I learned so much from [in] a melodic sense, and I will carry those lessons with me for the rest of my life. I will learn more lessons from them next time we work together, and I feel really lucky that they’ve been a part of my life.

Jack Antonoff is such a wonderful creator and such a nurturing presence — with his own art and other artists, he’s just so versatile and such a wonderful friend. [“Folklore” and “Evermore” collaborator] Aaron Dessner came into my life recently and he is just such a prolific creator. All of these people changed my writing and helped shape it.

There are so many others, though. So if you’ve ever sat in a room and cowritten with me, thank you so much. Anyone who’s ever wanted to produce one of my songs, any collaborator I’ve ever had — I’ve learned from all of you.

I want to say thank you to [Universal Music Publishing Nashville chairman/CEO] Troy Tomlinson for always being excited to hear new songs of mine, and to [UMPG chairman/CEO] Jody Gerson for being such a champion of female songwriters throughout the industry.

This is something I am so proud to receive. And to the fans who are out there who care about my lyrics — you have no idea how much it means to me that you dissect them and copy them into your journals and care about the words that I write.

There are amazing songwriters who came before me who deserve this, there are incredible songwriters coming up now who are so impressive and amazing: I have such an affinity and respect for all of you.

I am honored to receive this. Thank you so much.




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