Taylor Swift has recently re-released many of her old albums. Those new versions all say “Taylor’s Version”. But some fans don’t know the reason behind it, so what does Taylor’s Version mean?
Taylor’s Version recordings are completely re-recorded versions of her original albums that she does not own the rights to, following a dispute over copyrights with Scooter Braun. She is re-recording them with the intention to retain the rights to those recordings.
But it’s not quite that simple.
Which albums specifically is she redoing, and how did she end up not owning the rights to her own music? And are these versions any better than the original ones? Can her fans spot the differences?
Let us find out in the sections below.
Why is Taylor making Taylor’s Version?
Taylor is making Taylor’s Version to gain ownership of the songs on of her old albums. She lost the rights to 6 of her albums, and by re-recording them, she hopes fans will start to stream the new versions over which she has control.
And yes, by doing that, she will make more money.
Taylor is known for her fighting spirit, which she also proved when she decided not to give up on her old albums after a dispute with her old music manager Scooter Braun over his ownership and subsequent sale of her old albums. Taylor immediately began re-recording them under a new title, Taylor’s Version.
Scooter (through Ithaca Holdings) bought the rights to her masters in 2019 from her old record label Big Machine Records.
They claim they had offered to sell them to Taylor, whereas she claims she had been trying to buy them for years. So, while she still owns the songs and what is called publishing royalties, Scooter owns the rights to those specific recordings.
According to her, “Artists deserve to own their tracks,” and she “feels very passionately about that.”
And Taylor took to all social media platforms at the time to make her case about the manipulative bullying, but to no avail. But musicians getting taken advantage of by the music industry is not unique to Taylor.
As I mentioned above, Taylor has already released two re-recorded albums for her fans. The albums include highly anticipated unreleased songs with Ed Sheeran, Phoebe Bridgers, and Chris Stapleton.
And while Scooter owned the masters to her first 6 albums (he has since sold them to Shamrock Holdings, a private equity firm), so far, Swift has only talked about re-recording 5 of them. So she may be planning to skip her self-titled debut album, which was not nearly as successful as the ones that followed.
After leaving Big Machine Records, Taylor signed a new deal with Republic Records, which is where she is releasing the Taylor’s Version albums. They are owned by Universal Music Group (UMG)
Critics are lauding her latest projects for their originality.
She sounds incredibly mature as compared to her teen years. Taylor’s voice quality has grown over the years, letting her showcase her natural talent.
But is she using more studio trickery such as autotune on these rerecorded albums compared to the original version?
Read my recent article where I looked at Taylor’s use of autotune and why solo acoustic versions of her songs not only sound different but are sometimes even in different musical keys!
Just click that link to read about it on my site.
This is my last day of life before #RedTaylorsVersion. Midnight. Tonight. pic.twitter.com/Mgzlx3Qg3z
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 11, 2021
Does Taylor’s Version sound different?
The Taylor’s Version re-recorded albums are intended to sound the same, so the differences are very subtle. Her voice is a little older, deeper and more autotuned on these recordings, and not all the musicians are the same. But overall, the differences are slight.
So, they are only likely to be noticed by fellow musicians with an ear for detail.
But there are some great gems on these new versions. For example, her 5:29 minute version of “All Too Well” about her failed relationship and love affair with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, sees a bonus track 10 minute new version also included.
According to Taylor herself, her motive was to stay “loyal to the initial melodies” of the original Fearless album.
So, when she decided to re-record her Grammy award-winning 2008 album, she knew that she might have to step back into her shoes only 13 years ago and capture the authentic sound quality with which fans could relate.
Taylor later revealed that she:
“kept the same parts that I initially dreamed up for these songs. But if there was any way that we could improve upon the sonic quality, we did.”
Perhaps the only way she could retain that authenticity was to introduce only those subtle changes which wouldn’t meddle with the original structure too much.
And honestly, it is pretty tricky to tell apart which is a better version, the old one or this new one.
This takes me back to when Taylor released two of her albums, folklore and evermore, and fans were torn apart between picking one.
Were you also among those? If yes, read my recent article where some details might help you come to a concrete answer. I love both of them, but one sold way more copies than the other.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
This is more than perfectly fine 😄 @amazonmusic https://t.co/buTDyt52RX pic.twitter.com/BSn7TGH3Ts
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 12, 2021
How many albums is Taylor Swift re-recording?
Taylor Swift’s initial plan is to re-release the first 5 of her old albums. She released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April 2021, and then Red (Taylor’s Version) was released in November 2021.
The remaining 3 will be released over the course of 2023-2024.
And as I mentioned above, it remains to be seen if she will also re-do her self-titled debut album, which Scooter also owned (and then sold) the masters to.
And while she has yet to re-record her classic album 1989, which contains hits like “Welcome to New York”, “Blank Space”, and “Shake It Off”, she did release a single of the song “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” in 2021.
Taylor’s exciting project is making rounds on the internet.
Her fans are as excited as Taylor herself. According to Taylor’s wordings, she is enjoying the experience of revisiting those old memories once again. She also got the opportunity to include never heard before vault tracks which she always wanted her fans to listen to.
So the newly recorded version of these albums includes bonus tracks not on the original album.
While many feel content with their original recordings, artists like Taylor Swift enjoy producing and re-working them whenever they get the chance.
These new albums by Taylor Swift allowed the singer to include some of the tracks that she initially meant to have in the albums but couldn’t for various reasons. The Fearless (Taylor’s Version) contains 26 tracks, and Red (Taylor’s Version) has over 30 tracks.
And you shouldn’t be surprised that Taylor wrote every single one of them.
But are there any songs that Taylor didn’t write? Luckily, I explored that in my recent article. I get into how she picks her songwriting partners and which songs of other people she chooses to perform.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
It never would have been possible to go back & remake my previous work, uncovering lost art & forgotten gems along the way if you hadn’t emboldened me. Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again. Red (my version) is outhttps://t.co/ZUAWDuv4jL pic.twitter.com/Ji26KdOlWQ
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 12, 2021
Does Taylor Swift get more money if people stream Taylor’s Version?
Taylor Swift does get paid more if people buy or stream Taylor’s Versions instead of the original recordings. While she will always get performance royalties for both versions, the new owner, and not Taylor, receives the publishing royalties when those original recordings get played.
Re-recording her previous work is one way for her to at least partially ensure that profits from the streams, sales, and licensing of her songs will go into her pockets.
The platform also revealed that her re-recording, in effect, might at least somewhat devalue the songs’ prior releases hitting her enemies where it hurts. Their wallets.
Personally, fans often remain unaware of the industry payout mechanics unless they are somebody who’s already been in the shoes of an artist.
As far as fans are concerned, they get to listen to their favorite artist when they want. And even if Taylor enjoys profits from more streaming, who doesn’t want to?
She deserves every bit of it.
Moreover, Taylor has reiterated multiple times that the figures don’t matter to her. It’s good that her talent is recognized, but money or heavy profits is never a motivation behind working so hard.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 13, 2021
Does Taylor Swift get royalties from her old music?
Taylor Swift received songwriting royalties from her first six albums, but not performance royalties since she does not own the rights to those master recordings. So she gets partial royalties from those but full royalties from the Taylor’s Versions of those albums.
Taylor Swift’s long-standing ownership battle has led many to question her royalty rights.
Dina LaPolt, an entertainment attorney representing Steven Tyler and several other high-profile artists, was among the questioners.
If you hear Dina’s argument, she says that Swift still owns the rights of her old lyrics, melodies, and composition, meaning she doesn’t have to ask permission from or pay anyone to use them how she sees fit.
That’s why she can re-record the same songs without the current owner’s permission.
Many recording contracts actually prevent artists from re-recording the same songs, at least for a set period of years, but for some reason Taylor’s original contract with Big Machine.
So in a way, Taylor got very lucky!
Now, when Swift releases her new versions, she’ll own both their master rights and publishing rights, making her earn every penny they bring in and secure unilateral control over how they’re used.
To license a song, you need permission from the record company and songwriter. Now that Taylor is the owner of her tracks, she might take home 100 percent of the profits.
Taylor Swift is a widely acclaimed singer-songwriter and undoubtedly the most popular female artist of our time, whose tales of young heartache and breakups gained her critical success, making billions of listeners her ultimate fans.
However, along with success, the “Love Story” singer also faced problems in her career.
A recent example of this was a battle over the rights of her six albums. Taylor did not own her previous records. She also entered into a dispute with Scooter Braun, as a result of which she was forced to rerecord her old albums under a new title: Taylor’s Version.
But as they say, where there is a will, there is a way.
Taylor found a way to reclaim her ownership from the supposed abuse by the music industry in the form of her new recordings. Her second album Red (Taylor’s Version), has just been released, and her fans are curiously awaiting the rest of them to come out.
But with 2022’s new album Midnights, she’s also not just living in the past, and Taylor Swift fans can’t wait for more!
Photo which requires attribution:
Taylor Swift 103 by GabboT is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.