Music Industry

Who is Tree Paine? The publicist who controls the Taylor Swift media narrative

Whatever you may think of Taylor Swift, you’ll have to agree that she’s a marketing and PR genius. She’s managed to steer her way to super-duper stardom while staying squeaky clean in the eyes of the public. The press fawns, the paps swoon, and she just keeps getting bigger and richer.

But Tay-Tay can’t be engineering all this on her own, can she? Sure, the buck ultimately stops with her, but with all the other things that she’s going on in her life, there’s no way that she can be 100% in charge of every call that’s made on a minute-by-minute basis.

She doesn’t. Her image and media narrative is handled by Tree Paine.

Who? Exactly.

While Paine is mysterious, she is the most powerful music publicist in the world. The Daily Beast has a profile of her.

“Among Swifties, Paine is a legend. Fans speculate that the PR maven is powerful enough to control the media as a whole and must approve every single mention of Swift in the press, or that she has carefully kept Swift closeted for years, or that she had Swift strategically show up to a Chiefs-Jets NFL game in October so that Google searches for “Taylor Swift Jets” would no longer be dominated with stories about her private plane emissions. Swifties would credit Paine for the weather if they could—and probably have.

“Paine can usually be spotted somewhere within spitting distance of Swift, never far from the pop star’s side. And while being both an open book and giving nothing at all away has become central to Swift’s public image, Paine herself has her own conflicting public narrative—she is both known to fans in a way most celebrity publicists never are, while also being a complete enigma.

“Or, as culture journalist Hunter Harris put it: ‘Tree Paine is everywhere and nowhere. Tree Paine is present and absent.’”

This is fascinating stuff. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38430 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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