- Taylor Swift instantly broke two Spotify records at Friday’s release of “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
- The re-recorded album is the latest feature in Swift’s fight for the rights to her previous music.
- Its success highlights the industry’s changing power dynamics, affecting both small artists and large labels.
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” broke Spotify’s record for the most streamed album on a day by a female artist on Friday, the day it was released.
The album’s success caused Swift to break another Spotify record as the most streamed woman in a single day. Her music garnered over 122.9 million streams last Friday, about three-quarters of which came from “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
Almost identical to Swift’s “Red” from 2012, the re-recorded album marks the artist’s latest move to regain control of her life’s work after the sale of her master recordings.
Swift began re-recording songs last year after her early catalog was sold twice without her consent: first to renowned talent manager Scooter Braun and then to Shamrock Capital Advisors in Los Angeles. Over the course of four days, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” has successfully overpowered the original album on both
services and social media.
“I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way to regain the sense of pride I once had when I heard songs from my first six. albums and also let my fans listen to these albums without guilt to benefit Scooter, “Swift wrote to the investment firm last October about his decision to re-record.
In most traditional record contracts, artists do not retain the rights to the recordings against a prepayment. This was the case for Swift’s first label deal with Big Machine, which was later acquired by Braun.
So in 2018, Swift signed a contract with Universal Music Group that allowed her to own the master recording of any music produced since – a negotiation that is rare to get past, especially among smaller artists.
“By owning your master recordings, you retain creative control and you are free to release your music as you wish, through whatever channels you choose,” explained Paul Hitchman, president of AWAL, a UK music distribution company owned by Sony Music Entertainment.
The massive success of the “Taylor’s Version” remakes is a testament to the impact streaming has had on the power dynamics that have historically defined the music industry.
“If Swift – who without exaggeration is one of the greatest powerhouse pop stars of an entire generation – can not get his own masters back, who could then? It turns out, almost none,” Meredith Rose, senior policy adviser at Public Knowledge , wrote in a blog post from the American Bar Association.
The “Taylor’s Version” era is already sending shock waves across the industry. Universal, the largest record company in the world, has in recent contracts reportedly doubled the time it prevents artists from re-recording their music, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.