Taylor Swift takes back control

Lauren Runde

Having years of hard work and success stripped away is anything but good. Unfortunately, in 2019, Taylor Swift had some of her music sold by Scooter Braun to an investment fund in a deal worth more than $300 million. 

Swift wrote on Twitter that it was the second time her music had been sold without her knowledge and that this deal “stripped her of her life’s work.” In 2004, Swift signed a deal with Sony/ATV Tree Publishing’s RCA Records, but ended up leaving and signing with Big Machine Records in 2005. Through the deal she created with Big Machine Records, it granted them ownership of the master recordings of her first six albums, and in return, she was given a cash advance to start up her career. Ownership of masters means that whoever has ownership has control over what is done with the original recordings of songs or albums. Ultimately, when Swift left Big Machine Records, she left her masters behind because she did not have ownership of them. Therefore, in June of 2019, when Braun bought the record label Big Machine, he gained the rights to most of Swift’s music.

In 2018, a year prior to losing her music, she signed with Universal Music Group in a new agreement where she would now have full ownership of her future master recordings. 

Founder of Universal Music Group Monte Lipman said, “Taylor has not only captured the imagination of an entire generation, but has also redefined the paradigm of the modern music industry. Her commitment to songwriting and performing has earned her the respect of her peers and millions of adoring fans around the world. I can only imagine what Taylor is capable of achieving in the years to come, both culturally and creatively.” 

Throughout 2020, Swift tried regaining ownership of her master recordings, but it was not going anywhere. Swift turned down an offer with the company Shamrock Holdings, who bought some of her music, because she did not want Braun to profit more off her old music. Swift proceeded to reject their idea to collaborate, and since then, Swift has been re-recording her music with the Universal Music Group. “Fearless” is Swift’s most successful record and she has sold over seven million copies of the album, but this is one of the many albums she lost in the deal. Swift did not own the rights to any of her albums prior to 2019, and this is why after losing her albums, she decided to take back control and re-record. Swift has been working with her new label to make this happen and she is super passionate about her decision because she wants her music to live on, but only if she owns it.

Jaleah Klein, a junior at Xavier High School and a big fan of Taylor Swift, had her own thoughts on Swift’s decision to re-record. 

“I think it’s really awesome because now she’ll have full ownership to her songs. I also like hearing how her voice has changed throughout the years through the re-recordings,” Klein said. 

When Swift was asked about why she wanted to remake her first six albums during a CNN interview, she 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.”

Junior Norah Kettmann has different thoughts on the albums and wishes Swift would take more creative liberties with the re-recordings.

“The new songs just sound the same to me. I wish that she would have made more changes to them,” Kettmann said.

Swift’s “Fearless: Taylor’s Version” is top of the pre-add charts on Apple Music and the album has re-recordings from her Grammy-winning album, as well as six unreleased tracks. The album comes out April 9.