Taylor Swift and the battle to get her art back

Oct. 17, 2021, 12:39 p.m. | By Jackie Wang | 2 years, 9 months ago

Swift is in the process of re-recording her albums going back to 2006

Taylor Swift, one of the music industry’s leading superstars, started her career at the young age of 16 years old with a debut album that topped the charts. She is now re-recording everything from her first to sixth albums, but why bother re-releasing her life's work? The answer lies in the complicated morality of business deals that she signed at the beginning of her career.

In a post to all her social media platforms on Nov. 19, 2019, Swift announced that her masters was being bought by Scooter Braun. In the music industry, masters is the overarching term that describes the full rights to a record or album; whoever owns the masters has complete control over what is done with the music. The deal was part of Braun's acquisition of Big Machine Records, a record label company which Swift was part of. Through obtaining the entirety of Big Machine Records, Braun was able to also own Swift's masters, thereby being able to have full control. 

As for Braun, he and Swift have a long, complicated relationship. Braun is the manager for many other pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, with the latter having feuded with Swift. For instance, back in 2016, Bieber shaded Swift and sided with Kanye West by weighing in on the Swift vs West feud -- who can forget the #TaylorSwiftisOverParty? Bieber had posted a selfie on Instagram of himself, Braun and West together on a Facetime call captioned with "Taylor Swift what up." This move involved both Bieber, who is a client of Braun, and Braun himself into the argument. Hence, when Swift found out that Braun, someone who publicly took a stand against her, had the power to control her first six albums, it did not bode well with her. 

Swift claims that she did not know about the sale of her masters to Braun until the statement was made public. "I found out when it hit the news," Swift said in a "CBS Sunday Morning" interview in 2019. 

So, when Swift heard the news about her enemy Braun owning her masters, she was furious and made it clear that she would re-record her songs in order to get her art back. When she took this to social media, her stans were also not overjoyed but still supportive of her. "Combat, we're going to combat," one user on Twitter writes, a lyrical reference to one of Swift's songs, showing that her fans would have her back in this matter. 

Blair freshman Sophia Ge agrees with Swift's decision to re-record her songs and her fans' decisions to support her. "I honestly think she's right to re-record her own music and her, like, own whole work! When she does re-record, she'll be able to get control of her things, full stop, you know?" Ge says. 

Hence, when Swift learned that she couldn't get her masters back, she opted for the next best option: to re-record them and have fans listen to her new versions, the ones she would own.

On April 9, Swift released her first re-recorded album, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)." In her new version, she added 6 new never-before-heard "From The Vault" songs. These are songs that were written during the original album's era and fit into the album's theme, but never made the cut to be on the old 2008 version.

Interestingly enough, just last Friday, Swift surprise-dropped her version of the 2014 single "Wildest Dreams," from her record-breaking fourth album "1989." The Wildest Dreams trend on TikTok has been taking off and Swift wanted fans to use her version of the pop anthem for the trend. Love it or hate it, Taylor Swift recognizes TikTok's ability to boost a song on the charts.  

Swift has personally left comments on some TikToks that use "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)." "This is so beautiful I feel like it can't be real, I for sure imagined it," Swift comments on one user's TikTok.

Fans love Swift's new version of "Wildest Dreams." "I love the 'Taylor's Version' of [Wildest Dreams]... Of course, the old one was still really good but her diction, quality and voice just all sound a lot better in the new version," Ge comments. 

So, is "Taylor's Version" a success? 

The short answer is yes. Swift's hardcore fanbase, also known as "Swifties," are helping her achieve her goals. Swift herself addressed the success of her first re-released album, which broke records and made history in recent years. "You all really went out and left my greatest expectations in shambles this week… you made Fearless (my version) the biggest country album first week of the last 6 years and the top release of 2021 so far," Swift wrote in an Instagram post a week after dropping the album. 

Furthermore, on the first day with just 11 hours of tracking, Swifties were able to stream the "Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version)" over 3.4 million times on Spotify. Perhaps not even in Swift's wildest dreams did she realize the extent of which her fans would go to support her. 

With this in mind, the next time you feel like dancing out your heart or crying out your soul to T-Swizzle, you might want to check out the “Taylor's Version” of the same songs. Don't forget to keep your eyes open for Nov. 19 at midnight, which is when Swift's re-recorded version of her album "Red" is released - the album which spawned hit singles such as "I Knew You Were Trouble", "22" (go Blair's Class of '22!). Additionally, in the Wildest Dreams trend on TikTok, you might want to use the "Taylor's Version" of the song just in case Swift herself decides to drop a comment on your post.

Last updated: Oct. 17, 2021, 12:42 p.m.

Tags: controversy Taylor Swift

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