“Taylor’s Version:” More Than A Byline


Catherine Goodman , Editor-In-Chief

While the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on April 9th, 2021, was a revolutionary moment for many music extraordinaires, some listeners were left with unanswered questions about the real significance of “Taylor’s Version.”

Taylor Swift has established her dominance in the music industry for over 15 years by cascading flawlessly across multiple genres including country, pop and indie. She officially began her music career in 2005 by signing with Big Machine Records, a label run by Scott Borchetta. The contract she signed with Big Machine Records expired in 2018, however, this contract stated that ownership of her first six studio albums belonged to Borchetta. After her release, Swift signed with Universal Records and fought for more agency in the production, sale and ownership of her future records. 

However, while Swift forged a new contract with Universal Studios, Big Red Machine was sold to Ithaca Holdings, a music investment company owned by Scooter Braun. Braun then proceeded to sell Swift’s masters to a separate company in 2019 for 300 million dollars, without her knowledge.

While a profitable and strategic move by Braun, this exchange prompted Swift to publicly attack Braun’s behavior toward her and inspired her announcement that she would re-record her first six studio albums. By re-recording her original albums, Swift effectively regains control of not only her profits and production, but of her personal and professional past. Unfortunately, until these albums are officially owned by Swift, all profits made from streams go to Braun. 

Despite the drama, the question still remains, why is this so significant? 

Swift’s incentive is not the money; it is to set an example for younger artists entering the music industry. Her story is an unintentional exposé on the corruption of industry machines and the exploitation of naive musicians. While other artists such as Kanye West have expressed their frustration with the production and sale of their work, Swift is one of the few to directly confront these abuses.