“Love Story” Taylor’s Reclamation of her Records
Updated: Apr 17
The opening notes of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (Taylor’s Version) hum through speakers, nostalgic and achingly familiar. The song, released on February 12, is a re-release of her 2008 song by the same name.
Swift announced her plans to re-record her early discography in August of 2019 after she found out that the masters to her songs had been sold to Scooter Braun, whom she has accused of “manipulative bullying.” She posted on Twitter to say that she had attempted to regain ownership of her master recordings, but was unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion, as Swift said that before negotiations began, that she was asked to sign a NDA saying that she would “never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive.” Shortly after this, Scooter sold Swift’s music, videos, and album art to a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, under agreement that he would continue to profit off of her music.
In a letter she posted on Twitter replying to Shamrock Holdings Swift said “...It’s a shame to know that I will not be unable to help grow the future of these past works and it pains me very deeply to remain separated from the music I spent over a decade creating, but this is a sacrifice I will have to make to keep Scooter Braun out of my life.”
Swift began recreating her work with “Fearless”, her second album, and is also releasing “From the Vault” songs, beginning with “You All Over Me (From the Vault)” released on March 25, featuring Maren Morris.
Swift having her own masters that she has rerecorded allows her to license out her music for use on television, or in movies.
“That's the key, she wants to own those in particular, any legacy songs that she’s generated,” explained Dr. Tim Anderson, director of the institute for the humanities at ODU.
In her letter to Shamrock Holdings, Swift said that she would be going forward with her re-recordings. “I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefiting Scooter.”
“If she owns her own masters, and if she owns her own publishing, then she can effectively control 100% of the income streams at certain points in time, she doesn't have to split that with anyone,” noted Anderson. “It can get really complex, but essentially what you need to look at are what the splits are. And if you own your own publishing and you’re your own publisher, then you potentially own 100% of all the income.”
Essentially, the strategy would be for Swift to make a new set of masters by re-recording all the songs. “The great thing about technology today is that you can get pretty close to what it sounded like in a studio, or in her case, she can just rent out a new big studio and re-do it,” said Anderson.
Madeline Hyde, a sophomore at ODU, has been a fan since Swift’s first album, in 2006. She said she was very excited when she found out about her re-recordings.
“Something about getting to relive the memories of those songs again in the present and with how much she’s grown is really beautiful to me,” Hyde said. “It’s also really inspiring because she’s taking back what’s hers regardless of what others say.”
“I think [the re-recordings set] a really good example. She has spoken in multiple songs about women being treated differently than men in the industry and I think that if she didn’t stand up for herself she’d be going against everything that she has stood for. It inspires me to be more confident and stick up for myself or others when they are being treated unfairly.”
Hyde said that another reason that the new music inspires her so much is that she feels it indicates how much Swift cares about her music and what she creates.
“She doesn’t want it to be taken from her. Those songs were obviously a big part of her life and who she is.”
Another ODU student, Salem Sebhatleab, has been a fan of Taylor Swift since she was 7, when she found her on YouTube. She’s already listened to the re-recording of “Love Story” and says that the fact that Swift has to re-record years worth of music is “very unfair” but that it proves her commitment as an artist to her fans and to herself.
“I’m definitely excited for the re-recordings. Since she’s a woman now I feel like the emotion and delivery of the song might feel different, so that’s something I'm looking forward to,” Sebhatleab said. “I relate to how well-spoken and expressive she is, I love listening to her [because of] how well she can tell a story in a short 3-minute song.”
Sebhatleab feels that Swift’s decision to re-record shows her dedication to her craft, her fans, and herself.
“It inspires me in the sense that I should be thorough and genuine with what I do if it’s something I'm passionate about,” she said.
“Something about her reminds me of my sister,” confessed Hyde, “and it was easy to form an attachment to her because of that. I really love her music and how she carries herself through everything she’s gets thrown her way.”