Why Is Taylor Swift Re-Recording Her Music?

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On April 9, Taylor Swift released her re-recorded version of Fearless, her 2008 sophomore album. Before re-recording Fearless, Swift released two acclaimed albums last year, the Grammy award-winning folklore and its companion LP evermore. Given this timing, some people may not realize why Swift is re-recording some of her music. Learn more below.

Which albums is Taylor Swift re-recording?

Swift decided to re-record her first five albums to regain control of her music. Her first five albums, in chronological order, are Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, and 1989.

Why is Swift re-recording just these albums?

When Swift was 15 years old in 2005, she signed ownership of her music’s masters to her now-former record label Big Machine Records. Musicians like to own their masters (though far more often than not, a musician’s record label owns them) because anyone who wants to use the music for an ad, show, or movie must ask the owner of the masters for permission. 

Swift released her first six records through Big Machine, from her 2006 debut album Taylor Swift to her 2017 album reputation. In 2018, Swift left Big Machine Records and signed a new record deal with Universal Music Group’s Republic Records so she could own her masters. 

However, Swift only gained ownership of the material she would go on to release on Republic, starting with 2019’s album Lover. In 2019, former Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta sold Swift’s catalog to the mega-manager Scooter Braun, best known for working with Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, and his company Ithaca Holdings.

Why is Swift taking a stand?

Swift has said that she attempted to buy her catalog from Big Machine Records, but Borchetta never agreed and instead sold it to Braun. Swift feels that Borchetta betrayed her and has said that Braun and his clients have bullied her. Many people presume that Braun was involved with Kanye West’s “Famous” music video, which takes shots at Swift, since Braun managed West at the time. Swift was unhappy with her likeness being used for nudity in the video.

How did Borchetta and Braun respond?

Braun has not responded to Swift’s claims. Borchetta attempted to defend his actions by publishing screencaps of Swift’s negotiation documents to back himself up. According to Borchetta, the deal they were discussing would have meant that Swift would have control of her masters as long as she would agree to stay at Big Machine for 10 more years upon signing the contract.

However, Swift said that she felt uncomfortable signing the deal because she knew Borchetta would eventually sell the company. This sale would require her to be signed under new and unfamiliar label management for several years.

Who owns Swift’s masters now?

In November 2020, Braun sold Swift’s masters to Shamrock Holdings, an investment fund that paid $300 million for them. Shamrock Holdings is controlled by the estate of Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney. Swift was again upset that her music was sold without her consent. 

What about Swift’s other albums?

Swift released Lover, folklore, and evermore through Republic Records, so she won’t be re-recording those since her Republic deal gives her full ownership of her masters for the label.

What do you think about the Taylor Swift masters controversy? Sound off in the comments!

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