Taylor Swift’s breakthrough single “Love Story” burst onto the global music scene in 2008, followed up by her second album “Fearless” which won best album of the year at the Grammys.
After a huge public feud over the ownership of the master recordings of her first six records, Taylor announced in 2020 that she would be re-recording all of her early music .
“This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all of my music.”
Yesterday, 13 years after the release of Love Story (her lucky number, of course), Swift announced that her re-recorded version (“Taylor’s Version”) of Love Story would be released that evening, and the re-recorded version of Fearless would be released in April. Swift, now 31, wrote Fearless between the ages of 16 and 18, and noted that she would be including songs on the new version that she had previously “left behind”.
Fearless is just the first album out of five of Swift’s albums that she is planning on re-recording and releasing.
Why is this happening?
Swift signed with record label Big Machine in 2004. In exchange for their assistance to kick-start her career, they gained ownership of the master recordings to her first six albums.
Ownership of master recordings means you control what can be done with the original recording of a song or album.
“Artists deserve to own their work. I feel very passionate about that.”
Taylor still has a share of the publishing rights – meaning she has some veto power on some potential exploitations of her music. But on the whole, she doesn’t own her own music, and her manager and owner of Big Machine, music mogul Scooter Braun, has been ruthless in the battle over the master recordings of her early records.
Braun sold the rights to Swift’s master recordings and album art to private equity company Shamrock holdings in 2020, for more than $300M. Swift was willing to work with Shamrock, but then discovered Braun would still be financially invested and benefitting. And so in November 2020 she announced an unprecedented move in the music industry – she had commenced re-recording all of her early music.
The Braun-Swift public battle not only left Taylor without ownership of a decade of her life’s work, but also left her fans in a pickle: we want to listen to her first six albums, but in doing so, we’re supporting Scooter Braun and co.
Swift is The Man
In Taylor’s documentary “Miss Americana”, we finally get a glimpse into the real life of the glittery mega-star. Behind all of the sequins and acoustic guitars, Swift’s life has been completely overwhelmed by misogyny and sexism, the harsh and fickle media, and abuse of power by those who managed her in her earlier years.
Miss Americana shows Taylor re-gaining control in all elements of her life. One particular scene stands out when she finally stands up to her male managers and speaks out about her political beliefs, despite the severe warnings of all of the fans (and cash) she could lose. She did it anyway, finally shaking off the music industry’s shackles, and that moment was only the very beginning of her journey into being her own boss.
In the musical world, it seems that the past year has bore the fruit of the labours of power reclamation for Taylor. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that she released two full length albums in the past year, Folklore and Evermore, which are potentially two of her best. And now we’re getting one of her earliest and most prolific albums, re-released, with more music on it, in April? The woman hasn’t taken a day off since 2003. Hats off to her. She’s unstoppable, and I for one will have ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ on repeat all day.