Taking back her life

Why Taylor Swift’s re-recordings are important to the music industry

Ashley Pelletier, Associate Arts and Life Editor

Taylor Swift released “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” a remastered version of her 2008 hit single on Feb. 12. It is the first of many re-recordings that Swift plans on releasing after losing ownership of the master tracks for her first six albums.

The new version of “Love Story” sounds much smoother than the original because of how Swift’s vocal chords have matured. It also removes some of the more “country” aspects of its production. More specifically, the guitar is less twangy and the background tracks are Swift’s voice in comparison to the 2008 version, which used other singers for the secondary tracks.

I really enjoyed “Love Story (Taylor’s Version).” I loved the song growing up, which made it more meaningful to listen to it for the first time as an adult. I am excited to see how Swift adapts her other songs and albums, and I am also interested to hear some of the new songs she plans on releasing with the re-recordings. These songs were written with the albums, but were eventually omitted.

Photo from Twitter

In 2018, Swift ended a 12-year contract with Big Machine Records. This agreement signed away her ownership of all of her master recordings, meaning that Swift makes no money from streams or downloads of any of the six albums she recorded under them. She attempted to purchase these tracks from Big Machine. However, it refused to do so unless Swift would agree to record one album for every album she would regain the rights to.

Ultimately, Swift refused to agree to this deal. Big Machine then sold the master tracks to talent manager Scooter Braun. Swift and Braun openly feuded until Braun and Big Machine sold the tracks to Shamrock Holdings for $300 million.

From there, Swift decided to re-record all of the tracks that she lost under her contract. She could do this because she owns the music and lyrics to all the songs, just not the recordings that she made for the albums’ original releases.

“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums,” Swift said in a statement posted to her social media accounts on Feb. 11. “But the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I’m coming from. Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work.”

Swift entered her contract with Big Machine when she was 17 years old. Her young age made it easy for Big Machine to slip ownership of master tracks into a contract without Swift knowing or fully understanding the consequences of it.

Re-recording these tracks speaks to the dedication that Swift has to her craft. Not only does it show that she is reclaiming a part of her life that was controlled by the music industry, it also brings Swift back to her roots to explore how she got there. I think it will remind listeners — Swift fans or not — that she has changed from the teen country-pop star into a powerful woman who is capable of changing the manipulative standards of the music industry.

“This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me even more determined to re-record all of my music,” Swift said in her statement. “I hope you’ll like this first outing as much as I liked traveling back in time to recreate it.”