Last October, Taylor Swift welcomed herself to her new New York City by writing herself a song called "Welcome to New York [Taylor Swift]." "Welcome To New York" was one of the first songs released from her smash hit 1989, and it was ended up being one of the most controversial. New Yorkers didn't exactly take kindly to her "gentrification anthem" at first. But all of those critics should feel good about what that single just provided for their city.
As she promised she would back in October, Taylor Swift just donated $50,000 that she earned from "Welcome to New York" to New York City public schools.
A smart strategy: While sharing the news that money has finally come through, Capital New York suggested that T-Swift may have decided to donate the funds "in response to criticism that the song oversimplifies her adopted city." That criticism was all over NYC's native publications, such as the Gothamist, which called "Welcome to New York" the "Worst NYC Anthem of All Time." Or the Village Voice, which argued, "The New York of 'Welcome to New York' is what you would get if you populated it entirely with humans raised in the Times Square Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., then let them out into the world with only a penthouse apartment, an Amex Black Card and leopard-print Prada luggage to guide them."
Fair points — but Swift defended herself quite admirably against her haters in a December Billboard interview. "When you write a song, you're writing about a momentary emotion," Swift said. "To take a song and try to apply it to every situation everyone is going through — economically, politically, in an entire metropolitan area — is asking a little much of a piece of a music. I'm ... optimistic and enthusiastic about New York. ... If [haters are] not in that place in their life, they're not going to relate to what I have to say."
She makes a good case. Besides the "optimism" she peddles in cheery tourism videos as NYC's tourism ambassador, she's now given something tangible back to the city. And truthfully, if this is the New York that tourists want to pay for, which will support the city's economy, so be it. Let them flood Greenwich Village and SoHo, Swift's two favorite neighborhoods.
Swift's team has yet to publicly comment on her generous donation. This may be because, as Forbes suggested, it "appear[s] to be a bit shy of the expected amount." However, artists generally only receive around 10% of the profits from iTunes sales. Music sales these day are bitter and unforgiving (just like NYC in February), and $50,000 may actually be all she made. Welcome to New York.
Whatever the reason and whatever the amount, Swift's donation is a generous nod to New York City's children. Because even if New York City adults — who have a deeper understanding of the city's complex history, its gentrification issues, its rising cost of living — hate her song, NYC middle schoolers are probably loving it. And that's who it's really all about at the end of the day; T-Swift is for the children.
h/t Capital New York