Fearless, Taylor Swift re-recording history

Singer slowly gains control of masters

Photo courtesy of Republic Records
The scoop on Taylor’s Version. 

A few weeks ago, the astute music lover and average fan alike might’ve noticed that Taylor Swift was trending on iTunes and Spotify. “But didn’t ‘You Belong With Me’ come out like 15 years ago?” they might’ve asked themselves. 13 years ago, to be exact, but not the one that is topping the charts now. On April 9, 2021, Ms. Swift released her re-recorded version of her first Album of the Year LP, titled “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” 

The reasons behind this re-recording stem from clashes with her former record label, Big Machine Records, who sold the master recordings of her first six albums to mega-star manager Scooter Braun-owned Ithaca Holdings. Braun later re-sold the discography to Shamrock Holdings, reportedly for $300 million. What this boils down to is that Swift currently cannot make revenue off those recordings, rather Braun will collect the checks.  

Her current record deal with Republic Records/Universal Music Group has allowed Swift alone to hold the copyright of the master recordings, giving her total ownership of her latest three albums: Lover, folklore, and evermore.  

The good news for Swift was that as of Nov. 2020, she is legally allowed to re-record her entire bought-out discography, which she was clear from the start of the legal proceedings that she would. By doing this, Swift would be able to own the new masters to each piece of music she re-recorded, thus allowing her to make a profit off them, alongside the more symbolic act of an artist owning their own work.  

The re-recording process seems to have paid off well for Swift, as she has re-entered the top 20 most popular artists on Spotify (currently number 16) and the first single from the now Swift-owned masters, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” accumulated over 80 million streams since its release in mid-February.  

This project seems to be the biggest of its kind ever attempted by an artist, or at the very least within this century. Swift has promised each album will include “same but better” versions of the original tracklist, according to an interview with People, as well as previously unreleased songs intended for each respective album, which she has titled her “from the vault” songs. In a 2019 televised interview with Good Morning America, Swift suggested she might even finally record versions of songs she ultimately sold to other artists, such as “Better Man,” which was recorded by Little Big Town but written during the creation of Swift’s first semi-pop foray, Red. Other fans on social media are hoping for unheard versions of older songs, such as a long-rumored 10-plus minute version of “All Too Well.” 

With the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swift is likely moving on to re-record her self-titled debut, Speak Now, Red, and 1989, with reputation likely to come sometime a few years later, as she must allow for five years to have passed after the original release before she can re-record. reputation debuted to record-breaking numbers in 2018. So far, Swift has not indicated which album will be her next project in an ever-continuing push to be the owner of her life’s work.

This is a selection from the May 5 issue. To view the full issue, visit: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/105797293/

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