The Future. Thanks to the success of Taylor Swift’s “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings of her first six albums, the major music labels are majorly expanding the amount of time until an artist is allowed to pull a similar stunt. But with few artists able to make anywhere near the same financial dent as Swift has, they may focus more on simply striking licensing deals with labels and owning their masters from the get-go.
Master of contracts
“Taylor’s Version” is the boogeyman haunting the major record labels these days.
- Lawyers report Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group are stipulating in their new contracts that artists can’t re-record their music for anywhere from 10 to 30 years after its release.
- Previously, contracts only enforced that rule for an average of five to seven years after the release of the original or just two years after an artist’s contract with a label expired.
With Swift having become a billionaire and broken records due to the runaway success of her re-recorded albums (with more still to come), it’s no wonder labels are trying to get ahead of potential headaches.
Still, it’s difficult to imagine the practice ever becoming commonplace. Frank Sinatra did it decades ago, Def Leppard tried it out recently with little success, and Switchfoot is giving it a go with their breakout album, The Beautiful Letdown. But, arguably, no one holds the same cultural hold and fan devotion as TSwift to make their re-recordings bonafide hits.
As business affairs execs prepare the next batch of contracts, we can almost hear them whispering, “Just in case…”