Taylor Swift’s Re-Recordings: A New Era of Music Ownership
Taylor Swift has been reigning in the music industry for over a decade and has witnessed her proud share of ownership battles. From her public dispute with Scooter Braun over the rights to her early catalogue to her recent decision with the aim to re-record her first six albums, Swift is determined to regain the control of her music.
The re-recording process was initiated shortly after Swift announced in a 2019 interview that she intended to re-record her music in order to achieve ownership of her masters. Swift’s original recordings were sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in 2019, leading Swift to name the sale her “worst case scenario.”
Swift has since been dropping hints and teasing fans with re-recorded versions of her songs. In February 2021, she released “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” along with the announcement of the upcoming release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” which will involve re-recorded versions of her original 2008 album, along with new songs which didn’t make the original cut.
While some may vision the re-recording process as a way for Swift to make more money, many see it as a way for her to re-establish control of her art. In her 2019 statement, Swift said, “This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is undoubtedly just a contractual concept.”
The music industry possesses a history of artists losing control of their work. When a musician signs a record deal, they often give up ownership of the masters, which are the original recordings of their music. This means that the record label has the right to use and profit from the music in any way they see fit, including licensing the songs for use in movies, commercials, or other projects.
By re-recording her music, Swift is taking back control and essentially creating a new master of her original songs. This means that she will own the rights to the new recordings and will be able to license them in the same way a record label would.
Swift’s decision to re-record has also sparked conversation around the essentiality of ownership and control in the music industry. Numerous artists have spoken out in support of Swift, involving Kelly Clarkson, who tweeted, “Just a thought, you should go in the studio and re-record all your songs that you don’t own the masters on exactly how you did them but put brand new art along with some kind of incentive, so that fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point.”
Swift’s re-recordings are a bold move which could set a precedent for other artists to achieve control of their own music. The success of “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” makes it clear that fans are eager to hear the new versions of Swift’s classic songs, and the upcoming release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” has many fans excited for what is going to come.
The re-recording procedure is simply not a pathway for Swift to earn more money, but also a way designed for her to achieve control of her art and own her legacy. As she stated in her 2019 statement, “My musical legacy is about to rest in the hands of someone who tried to shatter it.” With her re-recordings, Swift is ensuring that her music will always be entitled to hers to control.
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