Swift Business

Bauer Professor Brings Pop Culture &
Business Together in Innovative Course

A classroom full of students discussing marketing strategy, the Eras Tour and customer acquisition, while a professor hands out friendship bracelets for participation — call it “Business School (Taylor’s Version)”.  

This spring, the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston launched “The Entrepreneurial Genius of Taylor Swift,” the school’s first-ever course focused on the business of the world’s most successful entertainers. 

Just like ticket sales and album announcements from Swift, the course saw unprecedented interest from students, with 76 lucky UH undergraduates scoring seats for the semester.  

While talking about all things Swift is a bonus for Professor of Practice Kelly McCormick, who developed and is teaching the class, the idea to pair pop culture and entrepreneurship came from a goal to make business topics more approachable to students across campus. 

“There’s a huge portion of this campus that probably wouldn’t say business or entrepreneurship is their first interest but when you put it in the context of anyone in pop culture, it becomes more approachable and engaging,” she said. “Having the opportunity to frame up these real-life concepts in the terms of someone who is exciting and engaging for people is the reason we decided to do this.” 

The class is structured to focus on a different one of Swift’s albums each week, her “Eras,” and diving into the business side of her success. Although nearly half the class has a major other than business, students become more engaged with each session, demonstrating the success of the concept of the course, McCormick said.  

“We have gone over subject matters like customer value, marketing and financials,” she said. “I have never done a class before where you combine a case study with the study of entrepreneurship itself. It is interesting to learn about and teach these different areas of entrepreneurship she explores.” 

Psychology student Maria Castanho is one of the students in the course who is majoring in a subject outside of business. Even though the name attracted her to the course, the subject matter has given them a whole new perspective on the world of business. 

“This class has opened my eyes to possibly switching to study business,” she said. “I think being able to work with digital marketing and the behind-the-scenes part of building a business brand is really interesting.” 

Students have shown their constant engagement in the course with both the subject matter and the theming. Along with small-but-important details, such as friendship bracelets being handed out to students by McCormick (a tradition at Swift’s concerts), students have consistently dressed on-theme with the album being covered each week, forgoing the usual jeans and sweats favored by college students for glitter, rhinestones and fringe. 

“We still go over all the main content of her marketing and promotion and everything, but it just adds a little fun to the course,” she said. “People are just as engaged to the class material. It is just so fun, and it is so great that they are active and constantly involved.” 

Viviana Lopez is another student who was drawn to the course thanks to its namesake, along with her marketing minor. With a goal of working in the marketing industry after graduation, this course is providing Lopez the necessary mix of marketing and the music industry. 

“Specifically, I am hoping to get into the music industry doing marketing for musicians,” she said. “I have enjoyed learning how she has paved the way with her business tactics and how those techniques can be beneficial for other artist in the future.”  

McCormick is constantly learning more about the business side of the industry and teaching the course which has brought on even more enjoyment for herself, she said. An unexpected bonus? Swift announced at the start of the semester that she’d be releasing a new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” on April 19, giving McCormick even more material to pull from as she leads the class. 

“It’s cool to explore new parts of her business,” she said. “People know her story but not necessarily how it came to be for brilliant decisions like her use of easter eggs (or hidden clues to engage her fans in upcoming announcements and releases). The fun has been digging in that content and finding out why something is that way and teaching it.”