Taylor Swift takes back control with her re-release of Fearless

Los Angeles, California - Taylor Swift has just dropped Fearless (Taylor's Version), and with it, a bombshell on the music industry's ongoing battle to define what it means to own your art.

Swift with her three Grammy awards won in 2016.
Swift with her three Grammy awards won in 2016.  © Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

At just 15, pop sensation Taylor Swift took advantage of what would have been an incredible deal for a singer of any level of fame.

Signing with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records for 13 years sounded like setting off on the road of fame for the teen. But no one could have known Just how far that road would end up taking her. After all, she was just a wholesome southern singer who wore innocent curls and cotton dresses with her cowboy boots, along with a guitar that looked about as big as she was.

But then came hit after hit, album after chart-topping album, and a growing fan base. That little girl eventually grew up and move on from her country roots to try out her impressive new powers in pop.

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By 2018, Taylor had come into her own, fully anchored in her new identity as a woman who was in full command of her genre, her fate, and her fans. When the record deal that launched her career ended, she signed on with Universal’s Republic Records and continued turning out some of the most popular music on earth.

The twist came in 2019, when Taylor's former label, Big Machine Records, was acquired by Scooter Braun. The deal allowed him to swallow up the rights to every single song she had ever released.

Nothing is holding her back now

Taylor holding the famous Country Music Television award belt buckle in 2007 after winning Breakthrough Video of the Year for her song Tim McGraw.
Taylor holding the famous Country Music Television award belt buckle in 2007 after winning Breakthrough Video of the Year for her song Tim McGraw.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

When Scooter Braun gained ownership of Taylor Swift's master recordings, he became entitled to revenue from the albums and could control and direct all album use.

Because Big Machine owned all her career’s recordings from her very first album to 2017’s Reputation, the masters have gained a significant amount of value as her pop status soared.

This meant that Taylor no longer had much say in how the music she wrote and created would be used in the future. She had lost control over her own masterpieces.

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But rising to the challenge was not the timid teen Taylor who sang one of her very first songs, Tim McGraw, to the very Tim McGraw at the 2007 ACM’s.

The 31-year-old superstar wasn’t afraid of Bad Blood. She would emancipate herself, and in doing so, she was out to free others, too.

And now, Taylor's latest weapon in her battle against Braun is out: a re-recording of her 2008 album Fearless.

She’s also releasing other re-recordings of the hits that brought her fast and lasting fame, including You Belong With Me and Love Story.

And in an absolute upper-cut to Braun, the singer is also unleashing something sure to be pure gold for Swifties: never-before-heard songs written in her late teens that didn't make the original cut for Big Machine.

She knows her power comes from fan loyalty

Swift is counting on the power of her fans to win against Scooter Braun. And there are a lot of "Swifties" backing her up. Featured: fans during Taylor's original Fearless Tour in 2010.
Swift is counting on the power of her fans to win against Scooter Braun. And there are a lot of "Swifties" backing her up. Featured: fans during Taylor's original Fearless Tour in 2010.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In a move that has split the music industry in half, some siding with the powerful pop-star, and others backing Braun, Taylor wasn’t finished at the re-recordings.

Her power comes from betting on her fans, and they aren’t failing her. She has given them the choice to buy her versions, or Scooter's.

Considering Braun faced a wave of online fury after the 2020 sale of Taylor's entire music line to Shamrock Capital, it’s easy to see who will probably win in the end.

"Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it," Taylor said, prior to revealing her plan to take back what was hers.

Taylor Swift's new version of Love Story saw 10,000 downloads within 24 hours while the original was chosen just 200 times in the same amount of time.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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