Music

Taylor Swift’s back catalogue may have been sold for a second time, but her fight isn’t over

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Lauren Geall
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Taking to Twitter to update fans on her battle to gain ownership of her master recordings, Taylor Swift revealed that her work had been sold without her knowledge for a second time. Swift also announced that she has begun the process of re-recording her old music.

Taylor Swift is not backing down in her fight to gain ownership over her old music.

The Folklore singer – who first revealed the struggle she was facing to reclaim ownership of her master recordings at the end of last year – took to social media yesterday to share the latest development in her battle with music manager Scooter Braun, announcing that the rights to her music had “been sold without [her] knowledge” for the second time.

In a statement posted to her Twitter, she revealed that Braun – who first bought the rights to her master recordings in June last year when he purchased Swift’s former label for $300m – had secretly sold her back catalogue to an investment fund.

“I wanted to check in and update you guys,” the statement began. “As you know, for the past year I’ve been actively trying to regain ownership of my master recordings. With that goal in mind, my team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun.”

Going on to detail how Braun had allegedly asked Swift to sign an “ironclad NDA” stating she would never say “another world about Scooter Braun unless it was positive” before even allowing her to discuss a price for her recordings, the singer said she had heard about the sale of her back catalogue after her team received a letter in the post.

“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,” Swift wrote. 

“This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge.”

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The statement continued: “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.”

However, despite the fact that Shamrock Holdings – the new company who own the rights to Swift’s work – had wanted to forge a partnership with the singer, Swift said she felt unable to do so because, under the conditions of the sale, Braun will continue to profit off of her old music catalogue for many years.

“I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling,” Swift continued.

“I have plenty of surprises in store – I want to thank you guys for supporting me through this ongoing saga, and I can’t wait for you to hear what I’ve been dreaming up.”

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has begun the process of re-recording her music.

Swift also attached a copy of the letter she sent to Shamrock Holdings explaining why she could not do business with them because of their continued partnership with Braun, where she said it was “a shame” that she would not be able to grow the future of her past work and that it pained her “very deeply” to be separated from her old music.

In a statement issued to Billboard, Shamrock Holdings responded to Swift’s statement and said they hoped to find ways to work with her in the future.

“Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalogue,” the statement begins. “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.”

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The statement continued: “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.”

Braun has not yet publically responded to Swift’s statement.

Although Swift is no closer to owning the rights to her masters – aka the original recording of a track from which all copies are made – her decision to re-record her old music and stand up against Braun’s attempts to control her work is something that can’t go unnoticed.

Not only is Swift’s fight to reclaim ownership a rejection of the way women are often treated in the music industry, but it shines a light on a power dynamic which young, female artists – most of whom do not have the same platform or influence as Swift – are often forced to navigate in silence. 

Taylor Swift
“If, as Roxane Gay noted, a woman like Swift can get so ‘publicly screwed over’ then what hope is there for the rest of the women in the world just trying to make good work?”

Indeed, as Stylist’s Hannah-Rose Yee noted when Swift’s situation first came to light: “Even looking at the drama in macro terms is a scary reminder of how men can use their position of power against women when it comes to work. If, as Roxane Gay noted, a woman like Swift, who is phenomenally successful and powerful in her own right, can get so ‘publicly screwed over’ then what hope is there for the rest of the women in the world just trying to make good work?”

Although the music industry still has a long way to go when it comes to confronting its problem with women, Swift’s decision to take a stand is indicative of a shift in rhetoric which has also seen more artists calling out what they say are the industry’s sexist and misogynistic practices. 

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Thanks to the likes of Swift, Carla Marie Williams, Bebe Rexha, Lily AllenSky Ferreira, Aluna Francis, Little Mix, Lady Gaga and all the other trailblazing artists (let’s not forget Stormzy’s iconic 2020 Brits speech where he paid tribute to the “incredible females” who contributed to his best male win) speaking out about their experiences of sexism, misogyny and injustices in the music industry, there’s hope that impactful change may eventually happen in what we hope will be a not too distant future.

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