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Why Taylor Swift is rerecording her songs

A new recording of "Love Story," one of Taylor Swift's biggest hits, has been released ahead of a rerecorded version of her hit album "Fearless."

Posted: Feb 13, 2021 4:31 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2021 4:31 AM

Taylor Swift announced on Good Morning America Thursday that a rerecording of one of her first albums, "Fearless," will be released on April 9.

But why is one of the biggest artists in music spending her time rerecording an album she released 13 years ago?

"Fearless" — for those of you who don't live and breathe Taylor Swift news — is her most successful record, with more than 7 million albums sold. But the pop star doesn't own the master recordings of the songs on that album, or any songs on albums she recorded prior to 2019's "Lover." That includes such major hits as "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Mine" and "Shake It Off."

By rerecording her hits, Swift can reclaim control over her recordings, or at least the new "Taylor's Version" of them. Another way to think about it is that Swift is declaring of the masters, "you belong with me."

"The recordings she made originally were made at a different time and under different contractual and legal objections. She's not happy about this," Serona Elton, director of the music business program at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, told CNN Business. "She's in complete control of the recordings now, even though this doesn't change the control of the old recordings."

When a recording artist signs with a label, the typical legal arrangement grants the record company ownership of the copyrights of the recordings. This is commonly known as a "master."

"The artist gets paid a percentage of the revenue generated by the recording, but they're not in control," Elton added. "Now Taylor is making these recordings and putting them out. What happens to them is really entirely up to her."

Rerecording her songs is a "great strategy" for Swift, according to Elton.

"Taylor has a very dedicated and loyal fan base, and her voice is powerful enough to persuade her fans to abandon her old recordings and listen to these new ones that she now owns," she said.

Owning the masters to such hits as "Love Story" — the rerecording of which debuts at midnight on Friday — will likely net Swift a cash windfall. But ownership of her recordings runs deeper than just dollars and cents.

For the majority of her career, Swift had a deal with Big Machine Records. When that ended in 2018, the singer signed a new agreement with Universal Music Group, which granted her ownership of her master recordings going forward.

Her previous catalog at Big Machine was sold to a company owned by music manager Scooter Braun. Braun's Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group as part of a reported $300 million deal in 2019.

Swift said this was a "worst case scenario," since she claimed that she was bullied by Braun for years.

"This is what happens when you sign a deal at 15 to someone for whom the term 'loyalty' is clearly just a contractual concept," Swift wrote on Tumblr in 2019. "And when that man says 'music has value', he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it."

After Thursday's announcement of "Fearless (Taylor's Version)", Swift detailed why she was rerecording her songs.

"I've spoken a lot about why I'm remaking my first six albums, but the way I've chosen to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I'm coming from," Swift wrote on Instagram. "Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work."

For Swift, rerecording "Fearless" adds to an already prolific year. She has released two albums during the coronavirus quarantine — "Folklore" and "Evermore," which have topped the charts.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
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Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
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