Universal’s new contracts will make it harder for artists to re-record their work

Universal Music Group amends its contracts to extend the period during which an artist may re-record their music, Wall Street Journal reported. The move comes after the success of Taylor Swift’s re-recorded albums and the music company’s efforts to gain more rights from artists who decide to re-record their work.

Previously, a standard contract stated that an artist could not re-record their work five years after their last delivered recording or two years after the end of their contract period, whichever is later. The new format increases the time after admission to seven years and the time after a contract period to five years, WSJ say.

Swift owns the music composition rights to her music. Her first label, Big Machine Records, sold the rights to its master recordings (the final version we hear) to an investment firm in 2019. Her masters were reportedly later sold to an investment fund for over $ 300 million in 2020, which was also approx. the time she was free to re-record her music. So far, she has re-recorded and released her 2008 album Fearless and her 2012 album Red, with “(Taylor’s Version)” in the album title to distinguish ownership.

Music companies have gradually lost the grip of their power and influence on the music industry with the advent of music streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. One effect of music streaming platforms in the industry is a change in the way businesses are run because artists can publish and promote their own work without the help of a label.

This change will prevent an artist from creating competition during the recording’s largest revenue generation period within the first 10 years, WSJ say.

Universal’s change is likely to set a standard for other record companies. With artists wanting to start out, this is another consideration for how they interact with labels and their work.

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