Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier opinions editor
Taylor Swift recently released her first rerecording, “Love Story” from the “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” album. To anyone on the outside who has somehow managed to avoid any news coverage about Swift’s legal battle with Scooter Braun, the rerecording feels redundant to say the least.
To those of us who have stayed in the know about the ownership of Swift’s masters, we know exactly why this is happening. But, I’m not here for the ones who know what is going on. I’m here for the ones who questioned why Swift released a song that sounds almost exactly the same as the original recording and may not even know what a masters is. Owning the masters of a song means controlling all of the financial decisions around it. There’s a very simple reason for Taylor Swift rerecording her albums: ownership.
Braun purchased the record label Big Machine in June 2019 according to BBC. com. With the record label came the rights to all of Swift’s work from her debut album to “Reputation.” Since Braun’s purchase of Swift’s masters, Swift has been working tirelessly to get the rights to her songs back.
Since Swift is a writer or co-writer on all of her songs, she still retained publishing rights, according to BBC.com. This allows her to veto some decisions. However, every stream of Swift’s previous work puts money directly into the pockets of Braun.
More recently Shamrock Holdings, a private equity firm, bought Swift’s music and album art from Braun. They reached out to Swift, but ultimately she was unable to work with them. After learning that Braun would still profit from her music, she decided against a partnership with Shamrock Holdings, according to BBC.com.
Over the past two years, Swift has battled against Braun in a fight for something that she should already own. Swift is the co-writer or sole writer on every single song that Braun profits from. She invested her time, energy and soul into writing these songs, and she incorporated her own emotions and life experiences into them.
Swift has always been an advocate for having ownership of an artist’s individual work. In 2014, Swift pulled her entire discography from Spotify based on her reasoning of not being fairly compensated for her work, according to Time.com.
To have Swift then put in the spotlight for not owning her own work was a switch in perspective. As part of the contract with Big Machine, Swift was allowed to rerecord her songs from her first five albums beginning in November 2020. Writing all of her songs has allowed Swift to rerecord her albums and profit from the streams of these rerecordings.
With the rerecordings, Swift will be able to pull streams away from the original recordings and allow her to profit from her work. The goal of the rerecordings is to sound as close to the originals as possible because of that.
The entire fiasco of trying to acquire the rights to music that Swift should have already owned could have been avoided with Swift’s original contract with Big Machine; however, Swift could not have imagined that Big Machine would have sold her masters to someone like Braun.
The writing is on the wall and it’s clear that artists should own their own work. Investing your life into a piece of music should not have a monetary value that someone else can take away from you with the right price. To put it into context, imagine spending days working on a class project that counts for 50% of your grade. Then, someone else puts his name on it and claims it as his. Both of you know that you made the work, but he is the one receiving the credit for it. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Now, imagine that it’s six albums and your career on the line.
Having someone swoop in and take something as personal as your own work that culminated over the past 30 years of your life can make the entire world feel as if it is crashing down around you so trust me when I say, artists should own their own work and Taylor Swift should not have to fight this hard to get back something that was hers from the beginning.