A Look at the Phenomenon of Taylor Swift’s Fanbase: the Swifties

There has never been a fanbase quite like the Swifties. Their fervor for the pop star is unmatched in the music world. Taylor Swift could quite literally make any move she wanted to and her legion of fans the world over would follow suit. It’s a scary amount of power for one woman to hold. Luckily, Swift holds it with grace and an even head.

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We all know the Swifties are an institution, but how did they get this way? Below, we’re charting a course through the Swifties history. Here is how casual fandom got turned into an all-encompassing, near-religious experience.

“They call themselves ‘Swifties’…”

Is a fanbase really a fanbase until they give themselves a name? Until the individual fans are looped under one umbrella, it’s all very abstract. Once they dub themselves they can present as a united front. Beliebers, Directioners, Swifties—whatever the name, it punctuates the moment an artist becomes otherworldly.

Of course, it’s not all that extreme. It’s just entertainment at the end of the day. But, it does have to feel nice for an artist when their listeners want to wear their fandom badge proudly.

The term Swifties gained popularity in the late ’00s. Swift herself acknowledged the term in a VEVO video, shared in 2012. “They call themselves the ‘Swifties’–it’s adorable,” she told the outlet.

The name legally became part of the Swiftian universe in 2017, when the singer/songwriter filed the name as a trademark.

From Fans to Friends

Swift was one of the first musicians to really dig deep into the celebrity applications of social media. The use of Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr has allowed Swift to get on a one-on-one level with her fans. The once-undefined mass of die-hard fans got narrowed down to specific usernames, icons, and groups. Swift made a connection with a select few Swifties over social media. These fans garnered fame in their own right within the Swiftie circle and gave hope to fellow fans that the same thing might happen to them.

Eventually, during her 1989 era, Swift broke down the final barrier between her and her fans. As a gift to some of her most longstanding followers, Swift created the “Secret Sessions,” in which she hosted groups of Swifties at her many houses around the globe. There, they got to interact with Swift as if they were close friends. Though the fans surely felt that friendship connection long before she extended these invites, it made it real and unquestionable.

No cynic could tell them, “Taylor Swift doesn’t even know who you are” when they’ve sat in her living room and eaten her homemade cookies.

[RELATED: Remember When: Taylor Swift Invited Fans to Her House for ‘1989’ Listening Sessions]

Moreover, since the beginning of her career, Swift has left little clues for her fans to point out, follow, and theorize about. That practice generates unparalleled fan activation. Being a Swiftie isn’t merely a pastime, it’s a full-time job.

All of these attributes combined create a feeling of closeness between Swift and her fans. What really seals the deal though, is how genuinely Swift approaches this relationship. Her fan interactions don’t give off icky, pandering vibes. Swift knows her success lives and dies by the Swifties and she seems to be truly grateful for their support.

Becoming a Recognized Force

Because the Swifties feel so seen by Swift–both personally and through her music–they put their full power behind the singer. We can only guess that Swift’s fellow nominees at award shows know they’re up against a true force when they see her name alongside their own. The Swifties won’t let Swift lose at anything she does. It’s a symbiotic relationship that has yet to be replicated in the music industry.

Based on her record-shattering releases and tours, where Swift goes her fans follow behind in large numbers. There is very little they can’t accomplish in the name of Swift.

(Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)

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