Taylor Swift (Taylor’s Version)
“I made it very clear that I wanted to be able to buy my music, that opportunity was not given to me, and it was sold to somebody else, and so I just figured, I was the one who made this music first I can just make it again, so that’s what we’re doing.”
After losing the recording masters of her songs to Scooter Braun, Taylor Swift is in the process of rerecording her music. Swift left Big Machine Records in 2018; however, the company was sold soon to music mega manager Scooter Braun. This sale gave Braun the rights to all the master recordings for Swift's old music, which meant that anyone who wanted to license one of Swift’s old songs to play on any type of media, would have to ask for Braun’s permission to do so and then pay him a licensing fee. Swift was devastated by the sale of her music, and in an emotional Tumblr post she called it her “worst-case scenario”.
Swift’s recent solution was to re-record her music. She has now begun to own full rights to her re-recorded albums, gaining back what should have been hers from the very start. Therefore, Swift will be able to start granting rights for films and commercials to use “Taylor Versions” of the music by owning both the sync license and master license. She dropped her first re-record, one of her most popular hit singles “Love Story” on the 12th of February. A few months later, on April 9th, her album Fearless was re-released and marked the first significant step since Swift announced the re-record.
The difference between Taylor Swift’s past recorded music and her re-recorded music is that Taylor Versions have a more mature sound and there is a clear display of extra confidence in her voice. Taylor’s re-recorded albums also have more themes of female empowerment, and as someone who was previously not a “Swiftie,” this makes it hard to not fall in love with her new music.
Swift has also recently re-released a longtime favorite, Red (Taylor’s Version), on November 19th, 2021. It revisits some of Swift’s most heartfelt work about heartbreak and the different levels of emotions one feels when going through a painful time. She tweeted back in June of 2021 that, “I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken. It moves on a different axis, at a different speed, time skips backwards and forwards fleetingly. The heartbroken might go through thousands of micro-emotions a day trying to figure out how to get through it without picking up the phone to hear that old familiar voice. In the land of heartbreak, moments of strength, independence, and devil-may-care rebellion are intricately woven together with grief, paralyzing vulnerability and hopelessness.”
Back in 2013, Swift claimed “Red is such an interesting color to me because you have the great part of red—like, the red emotions that are like, daring and bold and passion and love and affection. And then on the other side of the spectrum, you have jealousy and anger and frustration and ‘you didn’t call me back’ and ‘I need space.’”
While Red (Taylor’s Version) still holds the nostalgia of the album released nine years ago, much has changed in her life and the world. The added maturity of the recordings make it easy for the listener to seriously tell how much she has developed as an artist over the years. Some songs had never been released before like “Nothing New” which features Phoebe Bridgers in an extremely vulnerable song about how confusing growing up can be. “How can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty two” shows how significantly a person can change, just as Swift did in the music industry.
The most loved track from the album's vault is “All Too Well (10-Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” Swift recounts a whirlwind relationship that had a great impact on her life and she captures heartbreak and love, the target love believed to be Jake Gyllenhaal. She conveys annoyance and aggression towards his age and behavior and her fanbase readily agreed.
This is not the first time an artist has brought up their rights to their own music. In 1996, Prince told Rolling Stone that he felt like a slave with Warner Bros. He said “If I can’t do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. That’s where I was. I don’t own Prince’s music. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”
Taylor Swift is setting an impressive example to many young artists with the rerelease of these albums. She is making a point that no matter the circumstances, it is extremely important to stand up and advocate for yourself. She has been very vocal about the issue of artistic autonomy. “Hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.”