Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

Why is Taylor Swift re-releasing her albums? And what we can learn from this situation

Swift's story leaves us with some clear lessons that we can apply in business. Take note of the most important ones.

By
This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Taylor Swif may not get her scarf back, but the rights to do whatever she wants with her music. Exactly a week ago we lived, or perhaps we continue to live, the “ boom ” of the relaunch of RED , the fourth album by the American singer-songwriter, which was released in its first version in 2012.

Depositphotos.com

Contrary to what many think and perhaps few know, NO, it is not that Swift has not forgotten her exes and wants to return with songs "from the vault" (from the trunk) or to sing them again how much that breakup hurt. In reality, the artist only wants to regain commercial exploitation rights to her first six albums ( Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, RED, 1989, and Reputation ).

And what does this have to do with us? Much, the history of this pop legend, reminds us that we must pay special attention to different aspects related to our business partners, the importance of registering our creations and even ideas on our behalf, marketing management, and even showing resilience in the battles.

Why is Taylor Swift re-recording her old albums?

Long story short. In 2018 the singer partnered with Republic Records of Universal Music Group (UMG) leaving behind her partner from the Big Machine Records label. The important thing here is that Swift stipulated some clauses in her contract that caught the attention of the media:

  • Taylor Swift would be the owner of all his master recordings or masters made under the contract with Republic Records . This means that the artist has more control over where her music is used and makes the most of the profits. (Here it is important to note that many of our favorite singers or groups do not have their masters ).

  • The singer established as a condition of her contract that if UMG sells its shares in Spotify, the company will distribute part of the money from that sale to all the artists it represents, under a non-recoverable scheme. These shares so far were worth around $ 850 million .

Until then all good. However, in June 2019, Swift made public, through social networks , a dispute that he was living with Scott Borchetta , founder of Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), a company that owned the copyright of the masters of his first six studio albums.

In the publications, the singer expressed her dissatisfaction with the sale of her material to Ithaca Holdings , a Scooter Braun company, whom she accused of having harassed or bullied her on several occasions.

Later, Swift would add another post in which he explained that both Borchetta and Braun had forbidden her to use their music at the American Music Awards (AMA) 2019, a program in which she would be honored with the Artist of the Decade award, and where she had planned to make a great mix with some of her greatest hits, as well , announced to his fans that Netflix was preparing a documentary and that executives rejected the use of his old music in the project.

Finally, BMLG issued a statement in which it released its version of events, ensuring that Taylor could perform at the AMAs.

Within what Swift wrote on social networks at that time we find the following words:

Scott Borchetta told my team that they will allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree not to re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I am legally allowed to do and look forward to) and that I had to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.

I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the level of consciousness of other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message they send me is very clear. Basically, be a good girl and shut up. Or you will be punished.

This is bad. None of these men participated in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship that I have with my fans. So this is where I ask for your help.

The singer also reported that Braun sold the rights to her records without her knowledge to a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, leaving her with no opportunity to buy back her music.

In order to regain control of her works, Taylor Swift announced that she would re-record the albums in question one by one, since although she does not own the rights to the original recordings of her first albums, she does own the lyrics and compositions.

What should we understand about this situation?

Since its inception, record companies have produced, distributed and organized concerts and events in order for the artists to reach as many audiences as possible. This is how they become the copyright holders of the works, once the artists sign with them. This means that labels can freely exploit such works.

In Swift's case, she signed with BMLG at age 15, and her contract ended in the fall of 2018, and she subsequently decided to work with Republic Records. As far as is known, the singer-songwriter tried to buy the rights to her masters on several occasions, but was unsuccessful.

What is a master? They are the final and original versions of the songs of a singer or group. These recordings earn income through different media, such as public broadcast, television use, broadcast and consumption, sampling, commercials, and film.

In November 2020 Taylor Swift regained the right to re-record songs from her first albums. According to Variety , most contemporary recording contracts have provisions that prohibit artists from reusing material for a period of years, so the singer likely had favorable terms in her contract that would allow her to re-record at a certain point after the end. end of each album cycle and not at the end of their overall contract.

Start again

But on a Friday in a cafe I watched it begin again. In this way, the singer has already relaunched two of her iconic albums, Fearless Taylor's Version that saw light on April 9, 2021 and RED Taylor's Version which was relaunched this November 12.

Each album contains the original tracks, plus other songs that the artist did not record in her previous releases, which she calls " from the vault " (from the trunk), and even some pieces from the trunk have become the "new singles" of Taylor's version records.

If one thing is clear, it is that many artists in the music industry do not own the rights to exploit their work. "I've talked a lot about why I'm remaking my first six albums, but the way I chose to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I'm coming from," Taylor Swift expressed on Instagram just hours before the Fearless relaunch. "Artists should own their own work for many reasons, but the most obvious is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work."

As I said at the beginning, Swift's story leaves us with some clear lessons that we can apply in business:

  • You must bear in mind that not everyone is what they seem and that many times your partners or trusted people can make decisions that affect you negatively, in this sense, do not forget to think with a cool head what your next move will be.
  • Possession of the copyright or the shares or assets of your company is very important and you must have the majority or a card to play when it comes to decisions.
  • It is never too late to start over, be it relaunching your company, changing your name or completely pivoting your business ideas, resilience must be a very important part of the personality of an entrepreneur.
  • Don't forget to act smart and strategic, embrace the problem, make it your own, and try to turn the messy situation around in a positive way.