The Music Industry . . . Taylor’s Version

How and Why Taylor Swift is rebranding her iconic albums



     It all started in 2005 when a recently discovered Taylor Swift signed with Big Machine Records. Her contract said she did not have full ownership of her songs, so when the contract was over and Swift signed with Republic Records, she made sure she had full ownership of her music. 

     Now is where it gets complicated. In 2017 Big Machine Records was sold to private equity group, Ithaca Holdings, owned by manager Scooter Braun who in 2019 sold all of Swift’s “masters” to the company Shamrock Holdings for $300 million. This meant that every time one of Swift’s songs was played, she would not get the profits. So, to counter that, she announced she would be re-recording all of her old albums under her new management, Republic Records, ensuring that she would receive the profits and have control over her music. 

     The singer has worked incredibly hard in the last year releasing two albums in 2020 and re-releasing her 2008 album Fearless. In November, she also plans to release another album that we know all too well: Red (Taylor’s version). 

     These “Taylors Version” albums consist of re-recordings of all the songs on the albums and some songs “from the vault” in which she recorded, but never released. However, she has to ensure that her recordings don’t sound exactly the same as the original tracks. She does this by adding certain instruments such as banjos to make the songs sound slightly different. The singer engages her audience by posting hints on social media about which album will be dropped next and what the titles of the songs from inside “the vault” will be called. Fans have thoroughly enjoyed the games and always seem to crack the code immediately.

     It is fascinating to see how a now-adult and more matured Taylor Swift adds to the songs she wrote as a teenager. Many fans feel as if they are reliving their childhood, first heartbreaks, and teen angst. Katie Ogulnick ‘22 says, “My favorite song on fearless Taylor’s version is ‘The Best Day’ because it is a classic Taylor swift song and it is so happy and sweet and can brighten anyone’s mood. I am looking forward to Taylor rerecording her album Speak Now most as it has some of my favorite songs on it.”

     Although Taylor’s old albums are still under the management of Shamrock Holdings, her fight for her song rights has become an inspiration to many singers and a warning to young kids getting involved in the industry. Even those who aren’t a fan of the singer appreciate the hard work she has put into rerecording these albums. 

     Louisa Binder ‘22 says “I think it’s really cool of Taylor Swift to decide to take ownership for her songs because she deserves all the credit for her hard work!”

     Make sure to stream Red (Taylor’s Version) on November 19, 2021!