Taylor Swift Accepts Innovator Award at 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards: ‘You Have to Give Yourself Permission to Fail’

Taylor Swift took a brief break from her blockbuster The Eras Tour on Monday night (March 27), popping by Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater for the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards to accept the Innovator Award.

Phoebe Bridgers presented the award to her “Nothing New” collaborator, explaining how hearing a young Swift singing her own songs on country radio when she was growing up is what inspired her to become an autobiographical songwriter.

“I was listening to country radio one day with my mom and Taylor came on,” Bridgers said. “I heard a girl not much older than me singing a song she had written about her own life and the song was really good. As I grew up, so did Taylor, and so did her songs.

“Taylor has always told the truth,” Bridgers added. “She has always written songs about exactly where she is. I’m grateful to have grown up in a world with Taylor Swift in it. Or ‘The World (Taylor’s Version).’”

Before Swift took the stage, a video montage played of her famous friends and fans — including Selena Gomez (“She can represent what she’s walking through so well”) and Dolly Parton (“We wanna keep you around forever”) — singing Swift’s praises.

“Anyone who is part of that video, that video really blew my mind,” Swift said, before launching into her speech and marveling at being labeled an “Innovator.”

“I never a single time woke up in the morning and said, ‘You know what I’m gonna do today? I’m gonna innovate stuff,’” she said. “What I did do was make the right decisions for me. People want an example of something working before, but I think the coolest ideas, moves and choices are new ones, ones that set a new precedent. I’m so thankful because my fans have backed me up on things like switching genres or re-recording all my old music.

“The thing about these exciting nights and moments and especially this award, they’re shining a light on the choices I made that worked out, that turned out to be good ideas,” she added. “I want everyone to know — especially young people — that the hundreds and thousands of dumb ideas that I had led me to my good ideas. You have to give yourself permission to fail. I try as hard as I can not to fail because it’s embarrassing, but I give myself permission to.

“Make the right choices that make sense for you and someone one day might thing you’re innovative.”

The Eras Tour continues this weekend at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where MUNA and GAYLE will open Friday night and beabadoobee and Gracie Adams open Saturday night. Bridgers will join The Eras Tour as a warm-up act starting with the Nashville dates in May.