Why is Taylor Swift Re-Recording Old Albums?

Why is Taylor Swift Re-Recording Old Albums?

By Emily Sawyer, Staff Writer

During a year of isolation and reflection, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift made the bold decision to re-record her first 6 albums (released between the years 2006 and 2017). Swift, the country-turned-pop-turned-alternative artist, has been “fighting for years now to manage the means, method of production, and distribution of her work,” and is determined to take control.

Typically, when an artist releases music under a large record label, the label has ownership of their masters (aka the official original recording of a song which copies are then made from). Swift originally signed to her first label Big Machine Records in 2005 when she was young and had her guitar. When her contract expired in 2018, she switched to Universal Republic Records, securing ownership of her future masters.

The importance of owning these masters all came to light when Big Machine “sold to private-equity group Ithaca Holdings, an entity owned by powerhouse music manager Scooter Braun. He then sold her masters to another company, Shamrock Holdings, for a reported $300 million in 2019.” Economically speaking the deal was ingenious; the profits gained from streaming or buying her master recordings are huge. Unfortunately, Swift is not the one receiving these profits, it’s Braun.

Swift now hopes to surpass her old music with newer versions, writing in an Instagram post back in March “the most screamingly obvious [reason for re-recording] is that the artist is the only one who knows that body of work.”

Her re-recordings do not differ largely from the originals other than subtle production changes and a new maturity to her voice. Fans who have grown up listening to Swift love to see this maturity shine through. Junior Emily Nolan says that “listening to an older version of her now makes me feel like we are growing up together, and just like things in my life have changed, things in hers have also changed. I love it.” Her new albums also include songs “From the Vault” which had originally been intended to be on the original albums but never made the final cut. This includes the 10-minute version of one of her most popular and heart-wrenching songs today “All Too Well.”

Since the announcement of her re-recordings, Taylor has released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version).