September 18, 2019

A Lover and a Fighter: Taylor Swift’s Battle for Ownership

posted on: Thursday August 29, 2019

Pop Star Celebrates Freedom Amidst Label Issues 

by Anne DeLello ’20 A&E Staff

Taylor Swift has returned to the music scene with a vengeance with the release of her new album, Lover. Only a year after the pop star sold out stadiums across the country for her Reputation Tour, she is back and better than ever with an album that Rolling Stone has called “evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.” Rolling Stone also noted that it features “Swift at her most liberated.”

Taylor Swift Lover Album Cover

PHOTO COURTESY OF SPOTIFY

Swift’s liberation follows her change in record labels. Prompted by recent controversy involving the master recordings of her previous work, Swift will own all her music that she makes moving forward. She is even planning on re-recording all her previous music. According to The  Washington Post, Swift can re-record albums one through five beginning in November of 2020, essentially producing covers of her own songs.  

Interestingly, the release of such a freeing album follows the sale of Big Machine Records, and therefore all of Swift’s master recordings, to record magnate Scooter Braun, with whom Swift has notably clashed with in the past. Swift was not given the option to purchase her own music and spoke out saying, “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future.” 

This begs the question of who truly holds the power in the music industry. In Swift’s case, a woman who has spent her entire life making hit albums, has two men controlling everything that she has produced. In another statement following the purchase, Swift noted, “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.” As evidenced in this statement, she is an advocate for artists having ownership of their own music. 

Swift’s growth is clear both in the album Lover and how she has begun advocating for herself and women in music. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Swift spoke out about the differences between how men and women are treated in the music industry. She said, “A man does something, it’s strategic. A woman does something, it’s calculated. A man is allowed to react, a woman can only over-react.” This further highlights Swift’s choice to bring attention to the gender disparity within the music industry.

Moving forward, the conversation about the different vocabulary used for men and women in the industry is something that Swift believes must be addressed. She has received support from other women and men in the industry, such as Halsey and Ed Sheeran, following the sale of her masters and the release of Lover. 

As Swift’s album gains popularity, this conversation regarding women in the music industry is brought to light. 

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