Universal Music Group
Record Label (Global) | 2018-present
Taylor unveiled details of her long-awaited new record deal in an Instagram post to her then 113 million followers in November, 2018, saying “I’m ecstatic to announce that my musical home will be Republic Records and Universal Music Group” and hailed Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge and Republic founder/CEO Monte Lipman as “incredible partners”. Under the deal, Taylor retains ownership of her master recordings, a move she described as “incredibly exciting”:
“It’s really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry. I feel so motivated by new opportunities created by the streaming world and the ever changing landscape of our industry… I also feel strongly that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers and producers.” — Taylor Swift
But the real game-changer was this: Taylor also made it a “condition” of the deal with Universal that any sales of the major’s Spotify shares would “result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable”:
“They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by major labels. I see this as a sign that we are headed towards positive change for creators — a goal I’m never going to stop trying to help achieve.” — Taylor Swift
This move to benefit other artists, rather than just herself, echoes Taylor’s Apple Music intervention, which saw the company U-turn on its initial decision to not pay royalties to artists or labels during its initial three-month free trial period. “This is not about me,” she said at the time. “This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.” Apple changed its policy the following day.
Under the multi-year agreement, UMG serves as the exclusive worldwide recorded music partner for Taylor and UMG’s Republic Records serves as her label partner in the US. The multi-album agreement deepens the relationship between Taylor and UMG and builds upon the enormous success she achieved with Big Machine Records. In making the announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, said:
“Few artists in history approach Taylor Swift’s combination of massive global hits and creative brilliance. She is so multi-talented, she can achieve anything. I have such enormous respect for Taylor, in particular for her use of her hard-earned influence to promote positive change. Because of her commitment to her fellow artists, not only did she want to partner with a company that understood her creative vision and had the resources and expertise to execute globally on her behalf, she also sought a partner whose approach to artists was aligned with hers. With these shared beliefs, there is so much we can accomplish together, and all of us at UMG are enormously proud to be embarking on the next chapter of her career alongside her.” — Sir Lucian Grainge
Taylor was believed to have had a myriad of options on the table with regards to a new deal, from huge major label offers to going it alone. All six of Taylor’s previous albums were released on Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label, with distribution via Universal Music Group. This deal set Taylor up as the ultimate industry game-changer.