Taylor Swift Regains Control on “Talyor’s Version”

Abi Zajac, Opinion Editor

It’s 2008. I pop a CD in my plastic pink and purple radio. Taylor Swift sings of heartbreak and first kisses. Thirteen years later. I put a CD in my car stereo. Taylor Swift sings of heartbreak and first kisses. I experience everything for the first time all over again.

Swift’s rerecordings of her second studio album, “Fearless,” came out April 9, breaking records for the second time. But this record breaking rerecorded album is not a pointless money-grab from another pop star. For Swift this album is a statement of regaining control and ownership of her music.

Not much about the record changed from 2008 to 2021. There were a few new tracks “From the Vault” that she wrote during the fearless era, cleaner production thanks to Jack Antonoff, Swift’s voice is filled with experience, seasoned with tone and control, but most importantly this record is hers.

Summer of 2019 entrepreneur Scooter Braun bought Big Machine Records. Buying the record label also meant buying Swift’s masters, the original recordings of six of her albums (all that she had released at the time). Signing to Big Machine Records at age 14, Swift’s contract gave Big Machine ownership of her masters for a cash advance so Swift could start her career, according to BBC.

Seventeen months later, Scooter Braun sells her masters to investment fund, Ithaca Holdings, for $300 million- essentially putting her music on the stock market without her consent. After this accusations of bullying and undermining flew between Swift and Braun.

As revenge she will be rerecording and releasing her six albums. The re-releasing will not only depreciate the value of the masters Braun still owns, but give other fans and institutions a choice. Radio stations can now choose to play the original version of “Fearless” or “Taylor’s Version” as she has dubbed all 27 tracks on her new album. Choosing “Taylor’s Version” means the profits from the streams go to the person who wrote, sang and played the song. Taylor is also setting an example for other stars who have been bound Braun’s contracts such as Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande.

This isn’t just a star problem.

Men have constantly taken ownership and credit of women’s creations and innovations throughout history. James Watson and Francis Crick took credit for Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of DNA structure. F. Scott Fitzgerald took pages from his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald’s diary for his novel “The Beautiful and the Damned.” Male NASA Scientists relied on women computers such as Katherine Johnson, but did not credit them for their work.

And Swift had her entire discography bought from under her feet.

“Taylor’s Version” of “Fearless” is not just for nostalgic fans, but women who have been stepped on, talked over and undermined their entire lives.