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Misogyny in the Music Industry: Why Taylor Swift’s Re-recordings are so Important

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Taking a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Taylor Swift’s battle to own her music.

Whether you despise her, adore her, or simply don’t have an opinion, Taylor Swift is unarguably one of the biggest music artists in the world. From her countless hidden easter eggs, unreleased songs, and her re-recorded albums, she is bringing back those beloved eras of her career and giving it a new look. When Swift came out with Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April of 2021, the original album was then thirteen years old. It featured her current, more mature voice along with six songs from “The Vault”, which were originally supposed to be on the album, but never made the cut. . But you may still be wondering, why would she release the album again?

Big Machine Records – The Bad 

Big Machine Records seems to be the root of all of Taylor Swift’s problems during the entirety of her career. She signed with this record company back in 2005 when she was 15 years old. This contract, however, ended in 2018 when Big Machine Records was sold to Ithaca Holdings, which was owned by the one and only, Scooter Braun. Braun also manages stars like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and J Balvin, so he is not just anyone. 

Scooter Braun – The Ugly

Scooter Braun is probably just as hated, if not more, than any of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends. In his attempt to sell Taylor’s first six albums without her consent, he was successful. In 2020, her masters were sold yet again to Shamrock Holdings for a mere $300 million. By owning the masters, Scooter Braun had also owned the rights to make, sell and distribute copies. Any profits made relating to her last six albums, went to him and not her. Taylor Swift no longer had any ownership over her own music, which did not sit well with the singer.

She was given no opportunity to buy her own masters unless she “earned them back”. Making her work for something that is rightfully hers is personally demeaning and disrespectful, but her personal rights were never anyone’s biggest priority. These men walked all over her like they owned her, but yet Taylor knew her place. In regards to hearing this, Swift said “This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.”

Taylor has always been very vocal in her self-advocacy and actually accused Scoot Braun of not permitting her to perform any of her old music at the 2019 American Music Awards. She was also not allowed to use any of her old music in her own documentary, Miss Americana. Taylor had also accused Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying” in regards to him supposedly sending his assistants to deface her online. 

This isn’t new for her, as she knows exactly what these men are doing to her and her career. 

As she tried to negotiate with Scooter Braun and his team, Swift stated “Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive”. Further showing how Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings were trying to control Taylor in many different ways. She continued by saying “I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work. My legal team said that this is absolutely NOT normal, and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them off …These master recordings were not for sale to me.”

While this situation seems so bizarre, Swift persevered in the end. Look what you made her do, Scooter Braun. Haters gonna hate.

Of course, we cannot forget the insane Kanye West and Kim Kardashian drama relating to Taylor Swift, which ultimately fueled the album Reputation. There was a video that audibly stated Taylor Swift giving her permission to Kanye West to use her name in one of his upcoming songs. However, he failed to mention he would refer to her by saying “I made that b*tch famous”. Regardless, the public took sides and Swift’s reputation was damaged after she claimed she did not give her blessing to call her that name. From all of the online bullying and defacing, Taylor said she was at her lowest point during this time.

What does this have to do with Scooter Braun? Well, Braun also managed Kanye West at the time and no doubt had a hand in creating the music video along with the naked Taylor Swift lookalike. Taylor referred to the video as “a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked.” As two men worked together to degrade a clearly defenseless woman, it is clear to see the underlying motives behind Scooter Braun’s actions. Clearly hurt and offended, Taylor took a few year hiatus and came back swinging with Reputation, and she did not disappoint.

Taylor’s Version – The Good

With her contract allowing her to begin re-recording her albums as of November 2020, she got right on that and thus Taylor’s Version was born. By re-recording her albums and re-releasing them, she is now able to own the  master’s of her first six albums. Taylor already owns her last three; Lover, Folklore, and Evermore. The album itself has to be five years old to the date for her to be able to even start, but five out of six of them already meet that requirement. 

As we have seen with Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swift also includes songs from “The Vault”, which are never released songs that were supposed to be on the album. This is a true blessing to all Swifties because it throws us back in the Fearless era with new music that fits the vibe of the iconic album. 

There has been doubts about the success of these re-recordings and if it will even mean anything for Swift. Well if anyone was to prove people wrong, it’s Taylor Swift as Fearless (Taylor’s Version) topped the charts when it was released earlier this year. It broke the Beatles’ long standing record for the fastest run of three number one albums. Her last three albums Folklore, Evermore and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) all hit the top of the charts in just 259 days. There is no doubt that her upcoming re-recordings will have the same impact. 

What is Taylor Swift Releasing Next?

Widely recognized as one of her best albums that never won any awards, on November 12th, Red (Taylor’s Version) will be released. Some of the top hits from this album include I Knew You Were Trouble, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and 22. 

However, the most anticipated song on the album may be the ten minute version of All To Well, the mysterious and explicit version we all knew existed, but was only given a fraction of its original length. Many say it is one of her best songs she has ever written, lyrically. It encapsulates the story of a relationship from essentially the beginning to the end with the infamous Jake Gyllenhaal. If you are a Swiftie, he is considered an enemy because of the immense emotion and heartbreak Swift sings about in this powerful song. We have been waiting a very long time to hear this ten minute version of a song we can dearly relate to as well as cry, potentially uncontrollably. 

Along with the album, Taylor Swift is also releasing a short film about the song All Too Well featuring Maze Runner heartthrob Dylan O’Brien along with Stranger Things star Sadie Sink. Rumor has it, the original version of All Too Well is twenty-five minutes long. Many Swifties are speculating that this short film will include the original twenty-five minutes of the song we love so much. 

We can also look forward to a potential Starbucks drink being released on Friday as well. Along with some possible Taylor Swift themed Starbucks merchandise. I am looking forward to that and most definitely going to purchase some.

What Now?

After this album is released, Swiftie’s will get back to work investigating which album will be released next. If she sticks with the seasons the albums represent, because it is not in order, many will say it will be Speak Now around the springtime, or maybe even 1989 as there has been hints about both of them hidden inconspicuously. 

Reputation can be seen as a winter album, so we can hold off on expecting that one anytime soon. It is unknown whether or not she will re-record her debut album, Taylor Swift, but I would not be surprised if she pulled it out of nowhere like Fearless (Taylor’s Version) back in April. While it is very exciting, the anticipation for more unreleased music from one of the best music artists in the industry is high. However, if you are like me, you will enjoy Red (Taylor’s Version) to the highest extent and live in the Red era until it is time to move on to the next. 

Riley-Kate is senior at American University and is majoring in public relations and strategic communications and minoring in marketing. She intends to graduate in May of 2024 and complete her master's in marketing. Riley-Kate's preferred pronouns are she/her/hers. Some of Riley-Kate's interests are playing tennis, drinking iced chai, traveling, film photography, sustainability, writing, and fashion. She is also a big advocate for human and environmental rights. Riley-Kate is always thinking of ways that she can help make the world a better place.