Taylor Swift is Redefining the Music Industry for Artist’s Rights

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This image shows singer-songwriter at the iHeartRadio music awards in 2019. This was following the release of her album “Lover” the first album she owned the masters to.

Isabella Mahar, Opinion Editor

Taylor Swift is once again proving that she is the music industry through the release of her first re-recorded album Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Despite the album being 13 years old, it has led the charts and highlighted the importance of artists’ rights. 

The situation began with the sale of Swift’s master recordings. A master recording is the first recording of a song that is used for sales and distributions, and whoever owns these is in charge of whatever happens with that recording. 

When Swift was breaking out in the industry in 2005, she signed a 13 year contract with Big Machine Records. A key part of that contract was that Big Machine Records was the owner of the masters for the six studio albums Swift released as a part of that contract. 

In 2018, Swift left Big Machine Records and signed a new contract with Republic Records who allowed her to own all records produced with them starting with her 2019 album Lover. 

However, in 2019 Big Machine Records was sold to Scooter Braun which meant that the ownership of Swift’s masters were transferred to Braun. When this acquisition was announced, Swift argued that she had been trying to buy her albums back for years and Big Machine Records would only give her ownership if she resigned with them and for every album produced she would get an old one back. It is important to note that around the time she left, Swift accounted for 80% of Big Machine Records revenue. 

Following the revelations, she came to the decision to reproduce those albums. Starting in November of 2020 she began re-recording the first five of six albums, the point of it being that it would significantly decrease the value of the original. 

On April 9th, Swift re-released her first re-recorded album Fearless (Taylor’s Version), breaking many records and providing solace for the singer. 

Fearless was an album full of magic and curiosity, the bliss and devastation of youth”

— Swift

“Fearless was an album full of magic and curiosity, the bliss and devastation of youth. It was the diary of the adventures and explorations of a teenage girl who was learning tiny lessons with every new crack in the façade of the fairytale ending she’d been shown in the movies,” said Swift. 

Swift is also the first woman to have three number one albums within the course of a year (with the prior two albums being Folklore and sister album Evermore). Additionally, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has stayed at the number one spot since its release, and has been the largest release of 2021 and the largest release for a country album since 2015. 

While her hit songs from the era were a large part of the new version, she added songs that were written during that period of time that never made the final cut of the original album. The six songs that had never been released are additionally eligible for next year’s Grammy’s because of this. 

Throughout this entire experience Swift has continually highlighted the importance of artists’ rights over their work. She consistently has used her power as a large artist to create waves and victories for all musicians.

This was only the beginning of the re-recordings era as the albums Taylor Swift, Speak Now, Red and 1989 are able to be done this year as well.