By: GIANNA LUGLUANA
Taylor Swift fans have pronounced November 1st, 2020 as ‘Taylor is Free’ Day in celebration of her Record Deal with label company Big Machine finally being over. When Taylor was just starting out as a young artist at the age of fifteen, she signed a contract with this company in 2006, kickstarting her music career as her songs became widely popular very quickly. The country-turned-pop songwriter has been a major success story, with her songs about love and heartbreak acquiring her a huge fanbase with extensive world tours and recognition. Her vast contribution to the music industry has been attributed to her eight studio albums that have won her 23 awards and become the most awarded female-artist in AMA history.
According to her first record deal, Taylor Swift did not have ownership over her own songs in her first six albums- from the self titled Taylor Swift album up to Reputation– for the longest time. Soon after being discovered by Big Machine Records when Swift first began singing, she was signed with them, signing the rights to her songs along with it. She was unable to leave this binding contract for about 10 years, “preventing her from performing her old material on television and barring her from re-recording it for an upcoming Netflix documentary.” After an extensive time period of being restricted with what she was allowed to do regarding her own music, she was finally able to leave this contract after fourteen years. Taylor Swift then signed a new contract with Republic Records and Universal Music Group in 2018, under the assumption that she would have more freedom. She would now have complete control over any of her future master recordings from that point forward. While this was a big step in the right direction, Taylor still lacked the music rights to her first six albums as they were still under the possession of Big Machine Records.
Scooter Braun, manager of many popstars such as Justin Bieber, purchased Big Machine in its entirety for 300 million dollars in 2019. This ultimately gave him the rights to Taylor’s first six albums and caused a bit of a feud between them. Taylor did not find out about this whole situation directly, instead having to hear about it through the media at the same time as the rest of the world. “Swift says she ‘pleaded for a chance to own my work,’ but said that the label offered her “the chance to ‘earn’ one album back at a time” for each new Swift record produced.” Frustrating Swift and her fans, there was not much to be done about the situation except to wait until the deal expired in November of 2020. During this period of waiting, the company also blocked Taylor from performing some of her older songs at the AMA’s or including them in her new Netflix special because it would be “re-recording her songs before she was allowed to.” After abiding by these rules and waiting it out, Taylor Swift is finally free to do whatever she pleases with her old music as of today, the first of November.
Fans are excited to see what the future holds for Swift’s music now and eagerly await any official news about her plans to re-record some of her older hits. In an interview with CBS News in August, Swift announced that she fully plans on revisiting some of her old work, answering that it’s now something “I’m legally allowed to do and looking forward to.” This is an exciting time for Taylor Swift, giving her endless options on how she wants to execute this plan now that she is finally able to.