Why Taylor Swift is re-recording her old music


Pictured above is the album cover for Fearless (Taylor’s Version). It will have 26 songs on it, 6 of which have never been released.

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has been engaged in a legal battle with her former record label Big Machine Records since summer of 2019. Swift was signed to Big Machine from the beginning of her career in 2005. Her contract ended in November of 2018 and she signed with Universal Music Group instead. Swift thanked Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta for everything he did for her over the years. 

Swift wrote, “It’s also incredibly exciting to know that I’ll own all of my master recordings that I make from now on.”

Things were going well for Swift under her new label until Jun. 30, 2019 when Entrepreneur and mega-manager Scooter Braun purchased Big Machine Records for $300 million. The purchase included the rights to Swift’s first six studio albums: Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), RED (2012), 1989 (2014), and reputation (2017). The purchase was made without Swift’s permission and she initially claimed to have no say in it.

During an interview on “Good Morning America” on Aug. 22, 2019 Swift said that she would be rerecording her first five studio albums so that she could own them. 

“My contract says that starting November 2020, so next year, I can record albums one through five all over again. I’m very excited about it,” said Swift. 

In November of 2019, Swift was to be honored as Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards. Her plan was to perform a medley of her biggest hits at the show. Braun and Borchetta informed Swift that she was not allowed to perform her old music because they claimed she was rerecording her old music too early. They also denied the use of her old music in an upcoming Netflix documentary about her titled “Miss Americana.” Braun and Borchetta went on to tell Swift that the only way she would be able to use her old music was if she didn’t record copycat versions of her first five albums, and if she stopped talking bad about them. 

Swift expressed her strong feelings about the topic and asked fans to help on Twitter. 

“I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished,” wrote Swift. “This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans. So this is where I am asking for your help.”

Swift ended up performing her old songs at the AMAs and scarcely used bits and pieces of old performances in “Miss Americana”.

On Nov. 16, 2020 Swift announced that she was hit with yet another setback regarding the rights to her old music. Swift and her team tried to negotiate with Braun, but he wouldn’t even let her look at financial records of Big Machine unless she promised to never talk bad about Braun again. The deal fell through as Swift and her team found the terms unethical. She also announced that 100% of her old music was sold to Shamrock Holdings, once again without her knowledge. Shamrock told Swift that they wanted to tell her about the sale, but Braun required that they make no contact with Swift or her team otherwise the deal was off. 

Swift told fans on Twitter, “As soon as we started communication with Shamrock, I learned that under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off of my old music catalog for many years. I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock, but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.”

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) comes out on Friday, April 9. “Taylor’s Version” is listed after the album and every song on it to show that it is owned by Taylor Swift. When it comes out, it will make the original masters basically worthless. It is Swift’s first official re-recording that she will own. The release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) signifies Swift’s ability to overcome great challenges and acts as a symbol of hope that all artists may own their music in the near future.