Watch: Taylor Swift Receives iHeart Innovator Award, Stresses “Give Yourself Permission to Fail”

On March 27, Taylor Swift was honored with the Innovator Award at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards during a ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Videos by American Songwriter

Given to artists who “impacted global pop culture throughout their career,” Swift was given the Innovator Award after a moving tribute video, featuring words from Dolly Parton, Selena Gomez, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, and Olympian Simone Biles, among others, was presented.

Parton called Swift “bold,” and told her to keep doing what she’s been doing, while Sheeran praised her songwriting and added that her song “Anti-Hero,” off her 2022 album Midnights, is one of the best pop songs ever written. 

Before being presented with the award, Phoebe Bridgers also shared that she first connected to Swift’s music while listening to country music with her mother. “I heard a girl not much older than me singing a song about her own life, and that song was really good,” said Bridgers in her introduction. “Taylor has always told the truth. She’s written songs from exactly where she is.”

Bridgers added, “Her music shifted genre in the same way life does—in the same way being 16 is totally incomparable to being 18, 22, 25, 28. I’m grateful that I’ve grown up in a world with Taylor Swift in it. Or, ‘The World (Taylor’s Version).’”’

Honored by Bridgers’ speech and everyone who appeared in the video, Swift joked that she didn’t think “I’m gonna go innovate some stuff,” when she woke up in the morning. In her speech, Swift reflected on what it means to be an innovator and thanked her fans for continuing to follow her through different genres of music, and as she rereleases her earlier albums.

“I think the coolest ideas or moves or choices are the new ones, the ones that set a precedent,” said Swift. “I’m very privileged because my fans have backed me up in a lot of the choices I’ve made, like switching genres or re-recording all of my old music.”

She added that in addition to all her successes, she has learned the most from her failures.

“The thing with these exciting nights and moments and specifically this award that I’m so lucky to have gotten is that they’re shining a light on the choices I have made that worked out, the ones that turned out to be good ideas,” shared Swift. “But I really want everyone to know, especially young people, the hundreds or thousands of dumb ideas are what led me to my good ideas.”

Swift continued, “You have to give yourself permission to fail. I try as hard as I can not to fail cause it’s embarrassing, but I do give myself permission to, and you should too. So go easy on yourselves, and make the right choices that feel right for you, and someday someone might think that you’ve been innovative. Thank you so much for this.”

Past recipients of the Innovator Award include U2, Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, and Justin Timberlake.

In addition to the Innovator Award, Swift was also the recipient of the iHeart Awards Song of the Year for “Anti-Hero” and Pop Album of the Year for Midnights.

Swift recently kicked off her long-awaited The Eras Tour on March 17. The tour will run throughout the U.S. before wrapping up on Aug. 9 in Los Angeles.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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