Taylor Swift Rerecording Her Old Masters: What You Need to Know

If you are a Taylor Swift fan, or are involved in the music industry in any way, you have probably heard the news that Taylor is rerecording all of her old hits, from “Teardrops on My Guitar” to “Love Story”. We can expect new versions of all of her original songs in the next coming year. Why is this you ask? Well this has been a long drawn-out process over the past few years. Let’s get into it.

Taylor Swift started out her music career signed to Big Machine Label Group in a recording contract, beginning at the age of 15. Under this contract, Big Machine owned the rights to all of her master recordings she recorded during the course of her contract. In 2019, it was rumored that Big Machine was up for sale in the music business, with the likely buyer to be Universal Music Group. However, it was then later announced that Ithaca Holdings, led by Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, purchased Big Machine for $300 million. 

Earlier in the year, Taylor Swift had declined to renew her recording contract with Big Machine once it expired, and instead, signed a new contract with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Under her new contract, UMG permitted her to retain ownership of her future masters, starting with her album Lover, which was not a part of her prior agreement. Since the buyout of Big Machine, Taylor Swift publicly spoke out against Scooter Braun and her previous manager Scott Borchetta. 

This dispute broke out amongst many across the internet, with many backing Taylor, showing their support through the trend #WeStandWithTaylor. Various public figures spoke out about the incident, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Cara Delevingne, Scooter’s wife, and a multitude of others. The industry was torn between Scooter and Taylor.

Taylor has always believed that artists should be able to have the opportunity to own their work. She has said, “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work.” With rerecording all of her old albums, Taylor Swift will then have complete control over the new masters. 

Since this public feud came out, Taylor Swift has been hard at work focusing on her new music, including new recordings of her old masters. She has since released two new albums, Folklore and Evermore, and the first of her previous recordings – Love Story.

Unfortunately, this is not a new concept in the music industry. Typically, when an artist signs a recording agreement with a company, they sign over the rights for the masters. Under the contract, the label will own the copyright for an extended period of time, or possibly forever.  Any recordings made by the artist under this contract are owned by the label. It is important to thoroughly read through legal contracts and understand the terms to which you are agreeing to before signing.

Despite the ongoing feud between Swift and Braun, the good news is that we can expect Taylor to continue to release new versions of her old songs in the future!

What do you think? Do you agree with Taylor and believe she has the right to regain ownership of her masters? Or do you think Scooter has the right to keep her old masters and exploit her work given the legality of the contract? Let me know your thoughts!

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Photo: Dave Hogan