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Taylor Swift’s Masters Have Been Sold Again, and it Isn’t To Her

Jana Elhawary (‘24)

Artist of the decade, Taylor Swift, is starting to re-record her music, to own full ownership and rights to it. She was previously associated with Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun, her former manager, who took all rights to her first six albums, and recently sold them to a private firm, Shamrock Capital, owned by Roy E. Disney’s family.

The details of the deal spread to social media on November 16, 2020, primarily on Swift’s Twitter and Instagram. This has even been covered by the New York Times.

As a result, Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albums, also known as her masters or catalog, because she no longer wants to be associated with the Big Machine Records label. Since she signed with them at age 16, they have been receiving the profits of her music for her first six albums. She finally left the label group after her sixth album, Reputation, and later produced her first album, Lover, under her name. However, Scooter Braun, who was her manager at the time of her contract with Big Machine Records, and Big Machine Records itself still had the right to her masters.

When Swift signed her contract with the Big Machine Records label group, they took the rights to the catalog of any music she had previously created with them. Soon enough, six albums later, Ms. Swift was able to escape said contract, and stopped making music for her former record label group.

At that point, Taylor Swift was able to start making music under her own rights, but the CEO and founder of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, as well as Braun, still have the right to profit, sell, or do anything else they’d like with Swift’s catalog. With those rights, they sold her masters to Shamrock Capital.

Taylor Swift and her team attempted to negotiate with Scooter Braun for ownership of her masters, but his conditions made it difficult to do so. Later, Shamrock Capital contacted Swift, after purchasing her masters, in an attempt to partner with her, through a letter. According to Swift’s post on Instagram, “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… 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.”

Mistakes have been made by Taylor Swift in the past, but Swift is trying to do everything she can to receive the rights of her music for the future. Taylor Swift fan and Freshman Vyana Pillai said, “I think it is a very good decision on Taylor’s part that she is going to re-record everything and claim the rights to her own music. I’m glad she is taking the action to take back her music from them [Big Machine Records].”

To help support Taylor Swift as she re-records her music, her fans, also known as Swifties, are trying to not listen to her albums from Big Machine Records as much, and instead listen to her last three albums. By not listening to the albums in Swift’s catalog, the profits wouldn’t go to anyone including Big Machine Records and Shamrock Capital.

Pillai said, “We’ll all be glad she’s finally getting the credit she deserves. And we’ll be glad that she’s not letting Big Machine Records take advantage of her.” It may be difficult to not listen to Swift’s older music while she is re-recording, but her Swifties will always be there to support her and her career.

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