Artists Should Have the Right to Own Their Own Music

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that Taylor Swift has been making the news. I’m here to tell you what’s really going on.

When she was only 14 years old, young Taylor Swift performed at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. She was discovered by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records and signed a six-album contract with his company. Under this deal, Swift would own the copyright to her music, but Borchetta would own the masters. If you don’t know, “masters” are the original recordings of an artist’s songs and ownership of these allow labels to make money and control how the recordings are used. 

After fulfilling her contract, she left Big Machine Records before Scott Borchetta sold away her life’s work to Ithaca Holdings, a company owned by Scooter Braun. Braun and one of his clients, Kanye West, are known for relentlessly harassing and manipulating Swift in the past. She then signed with The Universal Music Group, where she would own the rights to her masters in all future albums, including her most recent album Lover

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Swift is allowed to re-record her old music in 2020 in order to prevent Braun from capitalizing off her recordings, but this isn’t an ideal situation by any means. The existence of two studio-versions of her songs would strip them of their financial value, essentially making them worthless. 

All I can say is that we simply cannot not tolerate this. All artists should have the right to own their own music. I am dismayed that we live in a world where two men who have bullied Taylor Swift are calling the shots to her life, and people are standing by and just watching it happen. 

In a tweet on November 14th, Swift shed light on the fact that Scott and Scooter are not allowing her to perform her songs at the American Music Awards, nor are they permitting the use of her music in a Netflix documentary about her life.

This issue goes way beyond whether or not you like Taylor Swift. It’s a matter of artists being able to perform and own the music that they created. 

#IStandwithTaylor

 

For more information check out:

References

Aswad, Jem. “Taylor Swift Couldn't Buy Masters Without Signing New Big Machine Deal,” July 3, 2019. https://variety.com/2019/biz/news/taylor-swift-couldnt-buy-masters-without-signing-new-big-machine-deal-1203259078/.

Coscarelli, Joe. “Taylor Swift Says She Will Rerecord Her Old Music. Here's How.,” August 22, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/22/arts/music/taylor-swift-rerecord-albums.html.

Sodomsky, Sam. “Taylor Swift's Music Ownership Controversy With Scooter Braun: What It Means and Why It Matters,” July 1, 2019. https://pitchfork.com/news/taylor-swifts-music-ownership-controversy-with-scooter-braun-what-it-means-and-why-it-matters/.

Tsioulcas, Anastasia. “Look What They Made Her Do: Taylor Swift To Re-Record Her Catalog,” August 22, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/08/22/753393630/look-what-they-made-her-do-taylor-swift-to-re-record-her-catalog.