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A Subsequent Chapter in Music Licensing

A Subsequent Chapter in Music Licensing

Reclamation to Her Master Recordings 

By Kenden Staten 

In the pursuit of regaining ownership of her first six albums’ master recordings, Taylor Swift released the second album since her announcement to re-record: Red (Taylor’s Version). November 12th, the release date, had been marked on the calendars of many avid Swift fans since June. 

The inner-workings and legality of Swift’s first six albums came to light when her previous record label, Big Machine was purchased by Ithaca Holdings, a private equity group owned by well-known music manager Scooter Braun. Braun manages superstars like Kanye West and Justin Bieber. After acquiring Swift’s music, Braun sold her masters to another company, Shamrock Holdings, for $300 million in 2019.  

Taylor Swift on the Red Tour. Photo from Flickr.com

For Swift, this purchase was shocking news. She wrote an emotional Tumblr post at the release, “I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years… Essentially my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.” [1] Swift immediately discouraged the deal and promised to re-release the master recordings her way, hence the title “Taylor’s Version.” 

In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Swift states, “I dug up all these songs that I wrote along the way that didn’t make the album because I thought, ‘I wanna save this for the next album’ but then the next album would be a completely different thing… it turns out this is a great opportunity for me to go back and re-record all the music on the original album.” [2] Swift re-recorded all original tracks from the 2012 album while adding nine never heard tracks she dubs “From the Vault,” with guest artists Chris Stapelton, Ed Sheeran, Gary Lightbody, and Phoebe Bridgers.  

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The first album formally introduced into the pop genre for Swift, Red brought new ballads and catchy breakup songs. She has now remastered them but stayed true to the writing and overall sound. Swift even kept the banjo line in the title track, “Red,” alluding to her country roots. However, in other songs, like “All Too Well,” she replaced the guitar with a piano sound, much more like her newer music. 

Taylor Swift on the Red Tour. 2013. Photo from Flickr.com

Red (Taylor’s Version) is worth the listen. While staying true to her original writing, Swift put a new spin on some old classics like, “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “Everything Has Changed” and includes a ten-minute version of the emotional ballad “All Too Well.” The album is available on streaming platforms and in stores on CD and vinyl. Take a listen and support the journey in the reclamation of Swift’s music rights. 

References 

  1.  Swift, T. (2019, July 30). Taylor Swift. Retrieved from Taylor Swift website: https://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/185958366550/for-years-i-asked-pleaded-for-a-chance-to-own-my 
  1. Taylor Swift’s 10-Minute Version of All Too Well Almost Wasn’t Recorded (Extended) | Tonight Show. (2021, November 11). Retrieved November 12, 2021, from www.youtube.com website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kr4JO9591c
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