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Taylor Swift Embarks on Re-Recording Journey, “Taylor’s Version”

Ayelet Spevack ’25

Taylor Swift’s choice to re-record her albums, each subtitled “Taylor’s Version,” is more than just a musical project; it is a strategic move to regain control over her music and revise how musicians earn money in the music industry. Swift’s journey began when she signed with Big Machine Records in 2005, beginning her career as a country singer. Numerous hits and sold-out stadium tours followed, establishing her status as a pop sensation. However, her contract with Big Machine Records expired in 2018, when she signed with Universal’s Republic Records, ensuring that she would retain control over her own future work. Normally, record labels own the music of an artist’s first few albums.

The project started when Big Machine Records was sold to a private equity group called Ithaca Holdings, led by music manager Scooter Braun, who also manages stars like Kanye West and Justin Bieber. Braun’s move to obtain Swift’s original six albums for a reported $300 million became a clear issue. Swift claimed that Braun had bullied her in the past, leading her to publicly express her dismay over the sale and announce her intention to re-record her original works. Her aim was clear: to take control of her art and ensure that she directly profits from her music. Her re-recordings signify a challenge to the music industry, where artists often have limited control over their work.

What sets Taylor Swift apart is her unique position in the music industry. Unlike other artists, she has the resources–including extremely dedicated fans–to succeed in the process of re-recording the majority of her albums. With each release, Swift adds slight changes to each song so that she has the rights to own them. She also introduces unreleased tracks that she calls “From the Vault,” which provides insight into her earlier album. Additionally, she has edited certain lyrics in her earlier works that may seem offensive, changing them to fit modern standards. 

Swift is also advocating for better pay for people in the music industry. She made it clear that one of her conditions in changing labels was to ensure that profits from the sales of Spotify shares would go to the artists. Focusing on increasing her individual profits may seem to contradict her image as a singer, but it displays her understanding of the difficulties artists face in the music industry. Taylor Swift’s journey to re-record her albums highlights an initiative to empower artists and change the dynamics of the music industry, showing the influence and power that an artist can hold in today’s age.

The release of Taylor Swift’s “Taylor’s Version” albums has ignited a wide range of reactions among “Swifties.” For many fans, these re-recordings represent a bittersweet goodbye to the original album which held a special place in their hearts as a soundtrack to their developing years. Nevertheless, Swifties have demonstrated their unwavering support for Swift’s decision to re-record her albums, understanding the larger importance of her battle for control and the aspects surrounding the ownership of her music. They have embraced the change in the quality and vocal performances in the re-recordings, appreciating Swift’s respected attention to detail. However, for some, the subtle changes in tone and vocals have stirred mixed feelings. While many have fully transitioned to the “Taylor’s Version” albums and even associate new memories with them, there are fans who still hold onto the nostalgia and emotional connection they have with the original recordings. Swifties, as a passionate community, continue to navigate their responses to this bold project, highlighting the strong impact Taylor Swift has had on their lives.

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