As children, we were always taught to share our toys, but wouldn’t you get mad if the person you shared your toys with gave it to someone you didn’t want to play with then that person continues to pass it on to another kid who you don’t even know? This basically sums up what happened between Taylor, her previous label and Scooter Braun. There are many facets to the story but it all starts with Taylor’s departure from her previous label Big Machine, news then spreads of how they were then acquired by Scooter Braun which means he has control to her master recordings. What does this mean? In terms of copyrights, this means that Scooter now has control over her 6 major studio produced albums. What made this worse was apparently, she was also making the effort to attain them herself so she can own her art.
Gas was only added to the fire when the American Music Awards season came around and Taylor was crowned the artist of the decade. As she didn’t have control over her music at that moment, Big Machine and Scooter had a say in what she could and could not perform during the awards show. Apparently, they had told her that she could not perform her older songs and this did not sit well with Taylor and truly, who would like this kind of set up? They also did not want to feature her old singles in her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana. To all the artists reading, would a documentary truly show who you are if it didn’t encapsulate your art the way you want it to? In the end we all know that things fell into place and Ms. Swift got to perform in true Taylor fashion.
It only gets worse as her albums end up not showing up on her Spotify page, Scooter at some point sells her masters once again to an investment company and the situation gets all sorts of messy but at the end Taylor won but how?
As business students, we have an idea regarding how money is made from streams. For small upcoming artists, their income from streams might not be such a big amount but for someone like Taylor Swift, who currently holds the highest streams for an album drop from a female artist on Spotify, we can infer that if we got access to that money, we be set for life. Though many argue that she isn’t in it for the money and truly no one can ever know other than her and the parties involved what they are really in it for, one thing for sure is as an artist all she wants is to own her work. This is also her way of exposing the spoils involved in the music industry.
Now let’s dive a little into copyright law, most times though music artists are the ones who sing their songs, rarely do they have copyrights to their singles this is why Taylor’s master recordings play such a big role in this case but along side a handful of artists, she happens to be the one who writes and composes her songs. This plays an even bigger part in this case. As she does this, it means that she has “sync rights” to her singles, these rights are what make her current re-recordings legal because it basically means that though Scooter might have rights over her previously studio recorded singles, she has rights to the lyrics and compositions which allows her to recreate it as much as she would like.
What makes her move of rerecording her singles a genius business move is that they render the previous singles useless. As business students we know how the world is obsessed with packaging and the way these rerecorded albums have come out due to the dispute that preceded it gives it the best packing possible; an advocacy for musical artists to own their music with a dash of feminism. May it be business laden or truly just an effort to own her work, Ms. Taylor Swift showed us all that she didn’t get here quicker by being a man, she got here by being herself.