As many people are aware, Taylor Swift has taken the music industry by storm with her “Taylor’s Version” releases. For the past few years, the pop singer has been re-recording her first six hit albums in order to reclaim the rights to her songs after being denied the opportunity to buy them from Big Machine Records – her former record label – when they were sold to music executive Scooter Braun.
These “Taylor’s Version” albums have put the original releases to shame, topping charts and being streamed worldwide instead of the original versions. While this endeavor has proven to be amazingly successful for Swift, it scares record labels. Wanting to ensure ownership of the songs that they release, many big record labels are now starting to add or edit clauses in artist contracts.
For decades, the standard contracts have stated that artists can re-record their music either five to seven years after the original music was released, or two years after their contract expires. Labels are now trying to expand that timespan to ten, fifteen, or even thirty years.
These new clauses are an attempt to prevent artists from re-recording albums made with a record label.
Josh Binder, an attorney who represents famous artists such as SZA and Marshmello, described to Billboard what the companies’ mindset is when making these contracts.
“[The labels’] position is, ‘Hey, if we’re going to spend a bunch of money creating this brand with you, then you should not try and create records to compete with us,’” Binder explained.
However, artists and their attorneys are not simply going to accept these changes as a new standard.
Veteran attorney Josh Karp told Billboard that he sought to get rid of the restriction the first time he encountered it.
“I was just like, ‘What is this? This is strange. Why would we agree to further restrictions than we’ve agreed to in the past with the same label?’” Karp said.
This is expected to be an ongoing struggle between artists, who believe they deserve ownership of their own work, and record labels, who believe they deserve credit for the money and support they put into an artist’s releases.
While the idea for re-recording songs and albums didn’t start with Swift, it was made popular by her immense success with the process. It is this very success that has record labels scrambling for new ways to restrict artists.
Freshman Emily Myers is a Staff Writer. Her email is email@example.com.