How Did Taylor Swift Become Famous?

Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift has become one of the most well-known artists of this generation. From historic wins, to record–breaking album sales, to sold out concerts all over the world, Swift has made her mark as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Although Kanye West might still believe he's to thank for Swift's meteoric rise to becoming famous, it seems she would have grown into the household name we know today even without his infamous outburst.

She got an early start

At a young age, Swift fell in love with country music and grew up listening to artists like LeAnn Rimes and Shania Twain, whose songs made her want to "run around the block four times and daydream about everything." And while other 9-year-olds were spending their time watching cartoons, Swift was watching television specials and biographies about country music royalty. One special in particular about Faith Hill's rise to fame in the country music world made it apparent to Swift that if she wanted to sing country music, Nashville was the place to be. She began begging her parents to let go to Nashville to pursue her newfound dream of becoming a country music star.

To show how determined she was to make a name for herself, Swift began performing at any and every event that she could. Before she was selling out the likes of Madison Square Garden, you could catch a much less crowded (and less expensive) performance at local fairs, festivals and contests across her home state of Pennsylvania. The young singer even got the chance to belt out the national anthem at a Philadelphia 76ers game in 2002.

Making her move

Ever the persistent little songstress, by the age of 11 Swift had convinced her parents that her budding talents were well worth a trip to Music City. Swift thought achieving her country music dreams and landing a record deal would be as simple as going down to Nashville and dropping off some of her demo tapes — which she quickly realized was not the case.

With her mom and younger brother  in tow, Swift knocked on doors up and down Music Row in Nashville with the hopes that some producer would hear her sound and sign her. Swift's game plan was going in and saying to the receptionist, "Hi, I'm Taylor. I'm 11. I want a record deal. Call me." They didn't call. We can only imagine how many of those record labels are kicking themselves now for turning down the 11-year-old girl who would go on to be a 10-time Grammy Award winner.

Her lucky break

It's hard for adults to face rejection, let alone facing it before you've even hit puberty. However, it seems Swift has always possessed an unlimited supply of moxie, because rather than letting the initial rejection from the Nashville music community discourage her, it only made her more fearless. She returned to Pennsylvania with the goal of becoming a singer/songwriter and decided to say goodbye to her days as a karaoke-style singer. When Swift was 12, a computer repairman taught her how to play three cords on a guitar. With those three cords, she wrote her first song, "Lucky You," and the rest was history.

By 2003, she landed an artist development deal with RCA Records. She would walk away from that deal just one year later because she didn't want to be at a place that "kind of wanted me maybe." The short-lived relationship was also due in part to the fact that the label wasn't interested in having Swift record her original songs for a debut album. Unfortunately for them, RCA found themselves on Swift's list of ex-lovers, err – labels.

Goodbye Pennsylvania, hello Nashville

In 2004, Swift's family left their Christmas-tree farm and headed to Hendersonville, Tennessee in an attempt to further her music career. It seemed like the move had paid off when Swift landed a contract with Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Records after an eye-catching performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville. Borchetta had previously been a well-known executive at DreamWorks Records, but he left to form Big Machine Records, with Swift being one of the first signings.

Swift released her breakout single, "Tim McGraw," with the then indie record label in 2006. The song stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 20 weeks and peaked a No. 40. On the Country Songs chart, the single reached No. 6. Despite debuting at an impressive spot on the charts for a country music newbie, Swift was far from making it big. The young star and her mom would sit on the floor of Big Machine Records putting her single into envelopes to send to radio stations in hopes of getting her name out there.

The beginning of an era

Swift's debut, eponymous album Taylor Swift, was released in October 2006 when she was just 16 years old. The aspiring country singer had a hand in all of the songs on the album — either writing them herself or co-writing them with her writing partner at the time, Liz Rose. Taylor Swift sold 39,000 copies in its first week and although that pales in comparison to the number of albums Swift moves in the first week now, it wasn't too shabby for the new kid on the block. Swift's hard work and talent didn't go unrecognized by the music industry as she won the award for Top New Female Vocalist, previously known as the Horizon Award, at the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards (via People). The album also earned Swift her first Grammy nod for Best New Artist in 2008.

When she wasn't traveling across the country promoting her debut album, Swift spent 2007 served as an opening act for country music legends like Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Brad Paisley to name a few.

Taylor's Space

Swift's early success might be partially due to her ability to connect with fans and share her music through an unconventional platform — Myspace. Swift was very hands-on with her page in the early days of her career and wrote her own bio, blog posts and even responded to fans which resulted in a more dedicated fan base. The singer would share her music on her Myspace page before it was officially released on the album — this process was often a determining factor of what songs would make the final cut for the record. Take for instance Swift's mega-hit, "Our Song" that premiered on her debut album. It became Swift's very first No. 1 hit on Billboard's Country Songs chart and spent six weeks at the top of the charts — all thanks to Myspace.

"If you notice the running order on the record, 'Our Song' is No. 11," Rick Barker, Swift's former manager, told Entertainment Weekly. "It was the last song added to the album, and a lot of that had to do with buzz that was being created on MySpace."

With "Our Song," Swift also became the youngest person ever to single-handedly write and sing a No.1 country hit.

Road to rocky relationships

By 2008, Taylor Swift had already introduced us to a couple of guys who had broken her heart (here's looking at you Drew, aka Teardrops on My Guitar guy). However, up until that point, all of the guys had been from her past life as a regular old high school student in Tennessee. Then along came Swift's first famous love interest, Joe Jonas. Their four-month relationship in 2008 would go on to warrant three songs: "Last Kiss," "Forever and Always," and "Holy Ground." Jonas would be the first of Swift's many high-profile boyfriend's to have a song or two written about him — the fact that he broke up with Swift over a 27-second phone call probably didn't help his case.

Over the years, Swift has gained a lot of media attention for launching lyrical smear campaigns against her exes and whether she likes it or not, her so-called "serial dating" tendencies have become a part of her identity. It certainly has kept her in the headlines and made her a household name, for better or for worse. Her 2014 single "Blank Space" was just one of Swift's many attempts to take control of the narrative and mock the media's perception of her .

Grabbing up Grammys

The year 2008 solidified Swift's superstar status when her sophomore album Fearless debuted at No.1 on the Billboard chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks and sold nearly 600,000 copies in the first week, the largest opening for a female artist in 2008. It also became the longest chart-topper by any female country artist. Swift wrote the biggest hit off of the album, "Love Story," in 20 minutes on her bedroom floor if that's any indication of her songwriting prowess. In 2010, she became the youngest artist to win a Grammy for Album of the Year at 20 years old. The songstress went on to win three more Grammy Awards that year.

Kanye makes Taylor Swift 'famous'

If you haven't seen, or at least heard of, Kanye West and Swift's infamous interaction at the 2009 VMA's, then you've more than likely been living under a rock — let us bring you up to speed. Long story short, Swift won Best Female Video for "You Belong With Me" and beat Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" video and West was his usual, highly opinionated self. West hopped up on stage in the middle of Swift's acceptance speech and uttered the notorious lines, "Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." It was the beginning of a now eight-year feud between the two that Swift recently referred to as a narrative that she would "very much like to be excluded from".

So although it's clear that the praise for Swift was pouring in long before West's interruption and that he doesn't really have a right to feel like he and Taylor "might still have sex," to a certain degree he did at least make her name more well-known in certain circles. It has become one of the most talked about pop culture moments of all time, and has allowed Swift the opportunity to play up her role of the victim in the media time and time again which, to a certain extent, has definitely made her famous.

Country crooner to pop princess

In perhaps one of the most genius self-reinventions in music history, with the release of her albums Red and 1989, Taylor Swift showed her ability to shed her country roots like they were simply a second skin. In an interview with CBS This Morning (via CBS News) in 2014, Swift said that when her single "I Knew You Were Trouble" spent seven weeks at number one on the pop charts it should have been a "warning flare" of her crossover to pop. The popstar's Red album saw her straddling both the pop and country genre, which she didn't think was the best thing for her career.

"With my last album 'Red,' I kind of had one foot in pop and one foot in country, and that's really no way to walk and get anywhere," Swift said in an interview with Ryan Seacrest in 2014. "If you want to continue to evolve, I think eventually you have to pick a lane, and I just picked the one that felt more natural to me at this point in my life."

It seems that Swift definitely picked the right lane, and, in doing so, she has solidified her spot as the reigning Queen of Pop. We can't wait to see what Swift does next!