For the past week, fans all around the world have been listening and crying to the ten minute version of All Too Well throughout the day and night. This comes as Taylor Swift released her re-recording of her album “Red” on Friday 12th of November, followed by the release of a short film, several interviews and a Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit. It seems as though the singer really is doing it all.
From a local country singer to a global pop-sensation, Taylor Swift has released music that has contributed to shaping the music industry today, capturing the attention of people across the world. Known for expressing her emotions post-breakups through her music, Swift has accumulated mass media attention, with every aspect of her life being documented.
With this being kept in mind, it is no secret that six of her albums have been or are currently in the process of being re-recorded. But, why is this?
Which Albums are Being Re-recorded and Why?
Swift’s re-recorded albums include Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014) and Reputation (2017). Swift’s Speak Now at the time became the quickest selling digital album by a female artist, with over 270,000 downloads within a week and was nominated for the ’Best Country Album’. Her Speak Now World Tour was a major triumph, grossing over $123 million (approx. £92 million).
Red debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with over 1.21 million copies sold in the first week alone and at the 2014 Grammy Awards, was nominated for both ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Best Country Album’.
1989 sold nearly 1.30 million copies in its first week of being released, making Swift the first artist to have over 1 million copies sold each by three separate albums, as recognized and rewarded by the Guinness World Records.
So, despite her previous albums each being a victory in their own significant way, why has Swift decided to re-record them?
The fundamental reason lies within ownership of her albums. Whilst Swift currently owns the publishing rights to all albums she has ever developed and produced, she does not have ownership of the original recordings (known as ‘masters’), thus preventing her from granting permission to anyone who wishes to use her tracks. This is a problem as Swift expresses that she wants her music to ‘live on’.
Swift announced her departure from Big Machine Records to join Universal Music Group and Republic Records in 2018, later attempting to be given ownership of the masters before being rejected. Her masters were later sold to company Ithaca Holdings, owned by Scooter Braun, for $300 million (approx. £223 million).
For Swift, this raised concerns, due to not only his close ties with Kanye West – who infamously interrupted Swift during her ‘Best Female Video’ acceptance speech at the 2009 vma’s – but whom she has previously accused of bullying her.
He then sold her masters to an investment fund, named Shamrock Holdings, in which Swift later claimed on Twitter that it was “the second time [her] music had been sold without [her] knowledge”. However, despite selling her masters, Braun would still be profiting off of her music.
By re-recording her albums, this gives Swift full control over her music and reduces the value of her original masters.
With her second re-recorded album, Red, recently released as of 12th November (her first re-recorded album being Fearless which was released in April), she has been met with widespread praise and support, from both fans and critics.
Reviews of Red have soared, with it setting a new record for the largest single-day streams for an album by a female artist on the music steaming platform Spotify. The album includes a 10-minute version of the track ‘All Too Well’, which she recently performed on SNL.
Public Perception and Impact
After the success of her first single ‘Tim McGraw’ – which sat comfortably on the Billboard country singles chart for eight months – sixteen-year-old Swift then released the album Taylor Swift following up with a tour and opening for the Rascal Flatts. The following year, she was certified platinum and continued to open for numerous artists including Faith Hill whilst gradually gaining fame.
Currently valued at $550 million (£410 million), Swift remains one of the biggest singer-songwriters in the world. She has explored a variety of genres throughout her protracted career within the music industry, including rock, pop, dubstep and rhythm and blues.
Described as “someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year-old can accomplish” by former First Lady Michelle Obama and one of the “Best People Person” by The Hollywood Reporter, Swift is publicly perceived as a global icon.
Predominantly centered around romance and relationships, her music has consistently been a hit with fans ranging from the United States to Europe, with her tours also generating mass amounts of revenue. Throughout her career, she has received countless awards, including; 11 Grammy Awards, 32 American Music Awards, 2 Brit Awards, 49 Guinness World Records, an Emmy Award and 12 Country Music Association Awards.
She has garnered nearly 80 billion streams and has also accumulated her own world within the TikTok platform, with trends being developed and created in tribute to her, under the viral hashtag ‘SwiftTok’.
As multiple teasers are being uploaded on to her social media accounts, fans believe 1989 will be the next album to be released, with rumours being circulated that Katy Perry, The Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez will feature on her tracks.
This comes as news that her album, Reputation, won’t be able to be re-recorded until November 2022 due to a clause in her contract which states that her songs cannot be recorded until “five years after the commercial release”.
However, given the well-received reaction of the albums which have already been re-recorded, Swift’s objective to have full control over her music is – so far – looking successful.