Today's WWD reports that although Taylor Swift can't stop landing magazine covers — Vogue February 2012, Glamour November, Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan for December, Elle this month and Vanity Fair for April 2013 (pictured) — she's not particularly good at selling issues.
Despite her huge and seemingly loyal fan-base, most of the magazines she covers do merely average issue sales on the newsstand. And the exceptions do worse, not better: her December Cosmopolitan cover sold 20% below the six-month average. Swift's cover sold below even Zooey Deschanel's, WWD notes, which seems like, to my mind, a case of bad casting: if Cosmo's readership isn't interested in accessibly hip young women with bangs who wear lots of bows and preppy dresses, why would anyone expect Taylor Swift to convert them?
Anna Wintour's decision to photograph celebrities for the cover of Vogue in the 90s was considered revolutionary and some stars really do boost a magazine's sales (Lady Gaga's Vogue cover was gangbusters, for example), but no one really knows what motivates readers to open up their wallets and buy a magazine. There's the way previous issues have shaped audience perception of the glossy's brand, the way the celebrity was photographed (tight close-up, in a natural setting, and so on), how the cover text is laid out — all of these factors are in play. If magazine editors imagined Swift would be a magical magazine-selling unicorn just because she has a lot of Twitter followers and YouTube video views, they're idiots.
Asked about the pop star's disappointing performance, Glamour editor Cindi Leive attributed it to Swift's relationship with One Direction's Harry Styles: "There may have been a little hiccup for her right around the 1-D relationship. But it’s nothing a pro can’t come back from. I’d put money on her for the long run." WHAT? Oh so people are only now getting distracted by Taylor's roller-coaster love life? "Nothing a pro can't come back from." That's such garbage. Maybe it's just that the singer's fans aren't going to the newsstand anymore because magazines are boring and expensive and the people that produce them are full of it and out of touch. Sorry Cindi, maybe the problem has nothing to do with Swift's ex-boyfriend, everything to do with your product.
Image via WWD