The Payback Begins: Taylor Swift Confirms Her Intentions to Re-Record Albums 1-5

Big Machine's vinyl re-release of Taylor Swift's debut album; one of several albums Taylor Swift is planning to re-record and re-release on her own.
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Big Machine's vinyl re-release of Taylor Swift's debut album; one of several albums Taylor Swift is planning to re-record and re-release on her own.
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Big Machine’s vinyl re-release of Taylor Swift’s debut album, one of several albums Swift is planning to re-record and re-release on her own.

Taylor Swift is about to make life very complicated for music industry heavyweights Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta.

Earlier today (August 22nd), Taylor Swift confirmed during an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” that she intends to re-record her first 5 albums so that she can gain control over the songs’ master recordings.
This follows earlier comments on “CBS Sunday Morning” indicating that re-recordings were happening.

During the “Good Morning America” interview, Swift indicated that her contract allows her to re-record the 5 albums beginning in November of next year, and this is when she plans to start the process.  She further indicated that she’s pumped up about the effort — and damn serious about doing it.

The re-recordings would likely flood platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, resulting in duplicate versions and lots of confusion.   The move, if successful, is almost guaranteed to diminish the value of the original catalog, and could spark legal warfare over Swift’s right to re-record.

Swift went on to say that she will be re-recording the music because she feels that music artists should have the right to their own music, which is currently not the case with her previous records.

Those recordings now belong to music manager Scooter Braun, whose Ithaca Holdings bought the rights to Swift’s recordings this past summer through the purchase of Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group. Ithaca Holdings reportedly paid $300 million for the purchase, with a large percentage of that price predicated on the long-term value of Swift’s intellectual property.

In reaction to the deal, Swift fumed at Braun in a Tumblr post, calling the deal her “worst-case scenario.” She also accused Braun of having previously bullied her through the actions of Justin Bieber and Kanye West, who are clients of Braun.

Swift will not have to worry about the ownership of her 7th album, which is called Lover and which will be released on August 23rd, as she told Roberts that she will have full control over its master recordings.

This news generated a burst of applause from Swift’s fans, who were watching the interview live in New York’s Central Park.

Taylor Swift is one of the biggest-selling music artists of all time. During her career, she has sold 150 million singles and 50 million albums. She has also won 10 Grammy Awards and numerous other awards and accolades, including being named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world on multiple occasions.

No response yet from Braun, Ithaca Holdings, or Scott Borchetta.

7 Responses

  1. Richard

    Here’s the thing. Big Machine probably spent millions promoting each and every one of Taylor’s first five albums. And she must have signed a contract that gave over some if not all of the rights to her masters to the record company, and perhaps as much as half of the publishing rights as well. And without the millions the record company spent on promotion and publicity, she probably would not have become the big record-selling success that she is today. Now she’s having buyer’s remourse? Well, I’ve got news for her – that’s life in the big (music) city. There is a price for success. She’s already earned more $ than she can spend in a lifetime. As the second-richest woman in music, she’s worth over 300 million dollars. How much more does she need? All of her fans should think long and hard about this before throwing even more $ her way. Tears on my guitar for the sad and greedy spoiled rich girl.

    • Herb Agner

      Good observations. And just take out the word “probably” from the first sentence, and you’re spot-on. I worked for major and indie record companies and can assure you that your sentiments are exactly right.

  2. Kori

    Whether you are a fan of Taylor’s music or not, I really admire her for doing this. Had I had the opportunity to sign a contract with a label when I was younger I might have signed my life away to do it.

    Mistakes are made when young. She knows better now, and personally, I am glad she is doing this for her own peace of mind.

    Knowing what I know now, no way would I sign a contract that would allow a label to keep my masters. I love the fact that I have complete control of my work.

  3. Herb Agner

    The sentence “Swift was accordingly distraught when the record company refused to return her masters” would more accurately be stated: “Swift was accordingly distraught when the record company followed the terms of the contract that Swift and her top-level attorneys negotiated, and maintained ownership of the masters they paid for.” Why, even now well into the 21st Century, do music business journalists still write about label/artist disputes only from the perspective of the artist, and, ignore the fact that contracts exist that govern all these interactions, whether the artist wants to acknowledge that or not? How about rewriting this article from an equally non-contractural perspective that Borchetta and Big Machine could take: that they signed a contract with an unknown 14 year old girl and put tens of millions of dollars into creating a career for her, when no one else would. They turned her into a global star because of the songs and recordings they created with her which have now turned into a billion dollar Taylor Swift industry fueled mainly by tour and merchandising revenue, which Big Machine doesn’t get any of. Then, why not write: “Borchetta was accordingly distraught when Swift refused to give Big Machine a portion of her touring and merchandising revenue that they’d created the market for”. Labels don’t break artists and then demand renegotiated 360° deals with them, because the artists would rightfully tell them to f’-k off and follow their existing contract. So why are journalists and media always reporting these ridiculous “ victimization“ narratives that artists tout because they didn’t get something they weren’t entitled to? And why does it matter? Because fans only see this one-sided artist view and believe record companies are always cheating artists, which leads to fans feeling like they should never pay for recordings b/c…the artists never get any money from them anyway. And in the end, this hurts both artists and labels and ultimately the whole business of music.

  4. Richard

    A manufactured controversy to get her name in the media again while promoting her new ‘boring’ record … spoiled little rich girl!