Re-Recording Albums 1-6

Taylor has embarked on re-recording her catalog of music under the Big Machine Records label after Scooter Braun bought the rights to her masters in summer of 2019 and a year later sold them to Shamrock Holdings, a private equity firm, in October, 2020. By re-recording her music, Taylor will be able to own the songs and release them to her fans under her control.

Taylor is understandably deeply unhappy with the sale of her master recordings without her consent or involvement. For that reason, she decided to embark on re-recording her entire Big Machine catalog, with the hopes of having fans only listen to the music that she controls. That primarily includes her first six studio albums: “Taylor Swift” (2006), “Fearless” (2008), “Speak Now” (2010), “RED” (2012), “1989” (2014), and “reputation” (2017). Taylor told Good Morning America in November, 2020:

“I’ve been having a really good time re-recording my older music. And I think […] so far of the ones I’ve re-recorded, I think it’s been most the fun doing ‘Love Story.’ Because the older music, my voice was so teenaged and sometimes when I hear my older music and my older, young teenage voice, it makes me feel like I’m a different singer now. And so it’s been the most fun to go back and re-record ones that I feel like I can actually, possibly improve upon the song. So that’s been a really amazing, fun adventure” — Taylor Swift

Braun’s Ithica Holdings LLC Ithaca purchased the Nashville-based Big Machine Label Group, founded by Scott Borchetta in 2005, in June 2019 for just over $300 million, of which Taylor’s catalog was then believed to be worth some $140 million. The acquisition encompassed all aspects of BMLG’s business, including its client roster, distribution deals, publishing and owned artist masters. Taylor signed with BMLG at the beginning of her career. Her contract with the label expired in fall 2018, after which she signed a deal for future recordings with Universal Music Group.

Now, Braun appears to have sold just Taylor’s masters for roughly the amount that his firm spent acquiring the entire Big Machine Label Group less than a year and a half ago. Big Machine remains in the hands of Braun and Borchetta.

In detailed posts on Twitter, Taylor said she was alerted to the October 2020 sale by Shamrock Holdings itself, only after the deal had already gone through, when the company reached out with hopes of working with her on the catalog in the future. While Taylor maintains that she was open to that, she quickly nixed any future collaboration when she learned that Braun will contractually continue to profit from her work, even after the sale.

Taylor also revealed that Braun’s reps had let her know the catalog was for sale. But, she said, she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement stipulating that she would never again disparage Braun before even being allowed to examine Big Machine’s books or make an offer. Taylor’s Twitter statement said:

“My team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun. Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature). So, I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work.” — Taylor Swift

She said negotiations never got underway, because of the strict NDA demands. “He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me,” she concluded.

“A few weeks ago my team received a letter from a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, letting us know that they had bought 100% of my music, videos, and album art from Scooter Braun. This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge. The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off.” — Taylor Swift

Before she learned that Braun would continue to profit from her catalog, “I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock” she said, “but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.” Taylor also attached to her tweet a copy of a letter she sent to Shamrock Holdings, dated Oct. 28.

“I feel the need to be very transparent with you. I will be going forward with my original re-recording schedule and will be embarking on that effort soon. I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefitting Scooter.”

Shamrock has issued a response. “Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalog,” the firm said in a statement. “We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered. We appreciate Taylor’s open communication and professionalism with us these last few weeks. We hope to partner with her in new ways moving forward and remain committed to investing with artists in their work.”

Addressing her fans, Taylor wrote, “I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling. I have plenty of surprises in store.”

Source: Variety

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