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Taylor’s Version Takeover

Posted 11/09/2023 by Magnolia McLain

Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was released in October and was swiftly met with immense fan attention. photo by Pitchfork

The fourth of six albums Taylor Swift plans to re-record, 1989, was released less than two weeks after the theater premier of the Eras Tour film.

Taylor’s Version of her fifth studio album, 1989, was released on October 27, marking her fourth re-recorded album. 1989 (Taylor’s Version) quickly became the most streamed album in a single day in Spotify history and the app announced Swift as the most streamed artist in a single day. The album contains re-recordings of all 16 original tracks and features five new songs.

Swift, who was born in 1989, is a 33 year old singer-songwriter who began her career at 14 after she signed a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV. She signed her first record label at 15 in 2006 with Big Machine Records and began her career by writing and singing country songs. She has recorded a total of ten studio albums, around 240 songs, and has eight concert movies and documentaries after the release of the Eras Tour film. Swift’s net worth as of 2023 has reached 1.1 billion dollars after her short 19 years in the music industry.

Her first six studio albums were produced by Big Machine Records (whom she signed with at 15 for a 13-year record deal), which controlled the masters for each of the albums and had most of the rights to the music. The rights to license the masters of her music were then sold to Scooter Braun in 2019. As discussed by the Harvard Crimson, “By owning the masters (which refers to the first recording of a song), Braun has complete control over the six Swift albums produced under her former label, Big Machine Records.”  Due to this deal, Swift was not receiving the primary revenue from these six albums, so she began to re-record each of them under her new record label, Republic Records. She was able to go through the process of re-recording because she owned the publishing rights to all original six albums under Big Machine Records. The note “(Taylor’s Version)” appears after the song title of each re-recorded song, which indicates that Swift owns the rights to it. Although Swift’s four most recent studio albums are not marked as “Taylor’s Version,” she owns the rights and masters to each of them because they were recorded with Republic Records rather than Big Machine Records. 

1989 (Taylor’s Version), which is named after the year she was born, runs a total of an hour and 17 minutes long and had 375 million streams during the first week it was available on Spotify, which is the highest number of streams achieved for any of her re-recorded albums. The most streamed song on the album is, “Is it over now?” which is marked as “[from the vault],” referring to the fact that the song was not on the original 1989 album. In the handwritten prologue included in the 1989 Taylor’s Version album and CD, Swift wrote, “I was born in 1989, reinvented for The first time in 2014, and a part of me was reclaimed in 2023 wiTh The re-release of This album I love so dearly.” Fans noticed that every single letter T was capitalized in the handwritten prologue, an oddity that typically signifies a hint to an important announcement or release date.

Swift is now over halfway done re-recording her albums released under her old record label and she has made her plans clear to re-record all of her first six albums until she owns the rights to all of them. There is no doubt that Swift’s successes will not be minimized by anyone, including a record label worth roughly 300 million. Swift has proven that she will continue to conquer the music industry, no matter what stands in her way or who underestimates her.