Why Taylor Swift's Rerecordings Are So Important

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Taylor Swift rerecording her music. Even being a massive Taylor Swift fan myself, I was confused when I first heard about it. Why would she rerecord albums that are years old and were already massively successful? After reading articles upon articles, I’ve now realized her rerecordings mean much more than just adding new versions of my favorite songs to my playlists.

Spotify on iPhone Photo by Fixelgraphy from Unsplash

In 2006, Taylor Swift signed her first record label with Big Machine Records, founded by Scott Borchetta. Swift was just a teenager at the time of signing and put out her first six albums under Big Machine Records: "Taylor Swift", "Fearless", "Speak Now", "Red", "1989", and "reputation." In their legal agreement, similar to most music deals, the record label had ownership of the masters to all of these songs.

Swift had begged for ownership of her music for many years. Big Machine Records gave her unacceptable conditions if she wanted to get her music back - she could earn back the rights to one album for every album she put out. She eventually made the hard decision to move forward and not agree to this proposition. Then, without her knowledge, her masters were sold to rival Scooter Braun. For years Scooter Braun bullied Swift, along with other artists who were signed onto his label such as Kanye West and Justin Bieber. 

This was the absolute worst-case scenario for Swift. Braun wanted Swift to sign an NDA saying that she would never talk negatively about him, and also wouldn’t give a price for her to buy back her masters. After not signing the NDA, her masters were then sold for a second time without her knowledge or permission. In a tweet on November 16, 2020, Swift confirmed that she had started rerecording her music in order to own the rights to the “Taylor’s Version” of each album that was being tossed around in business deals.

Taylor Swift rerecording her music isn’t just simply to get her masters back and to earn the profits off of her own music. She is reclaiming her life’s work that was controlled by men who had no contribution to the art. Although she isn’t the first artist to rerecord their music, by doing so she is creating conversations in (and out) of the music industry regarding artists’ rights to own their own music. As she said when announcing her rerecording of “Fearless”, no one knows the art as the artist does, and now she can have the freedom of owning and recreating "Taylor’s Version". She is even adding extra songs that didn’t previously end up on the album, but play a role in the album’s story.

Taylor Swift Evermore Photo by UMG (on behalf of TS/Republic) / Youtube

Long story short, Taylor Swift is once again redefining the music industry and I can’t wait to hear the rerecordings!