Will Anyone Attempt (Their Version) Albums Like Taylor Swift? Music Execs Hope Not

Beginning in 2021, the biggest name in music, Taylor Swift, has been re-recording her albums. Why? Because Swift wanted to be in control of her songs (and her masters) in the wake of a 2019 moment when a third-party businessman (Scooter Braun) acquired her catalog after acquiring her former label, Big Machine Records.

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Ever since, Swift has been re-recording and releasing records like Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Red (Taylor’s Version), Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), and 1989 (Taylor’s Version). Despite a trickling of criticism here and there, Swift’s fans have celebrated her decision. But the question remains: will other artists follow suit?

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According to several reports, record executives at Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group have started to write new clauses in contracts prohibiting artists from re-recording their music as much as 10 years after the initial releases drop. In the past, that number was shorter, about five or seven years.

“The first time I saw [UMG’s new contracts], I tried to get rid of it entirely,” lawyer Josh Karp said to Billboard, speaking about the issue. “I was just like, ‘What is this? This is strange. Why would we agree to further restrictions than we’ve agreed to in the past with the same label?’”

While Swift is the biggest name in music these days, with her recent The Eras Tour garnering billions of dollars, and while her situation is unique with Braun buying Big Machine, it’s unlikely that type of perfect storm, so to speak, will happen for another artist anytime soon. But given the swelling success of all the re-recorded (Taylor’s Version) albums from Swift, and her financial boon, since she now owns the material outright, maybe someone will attempt it?

“[The record labels’] position is, ‘Hey, if we’re going to spend a bunch of money creating this brand with you, then you should not try and create records to compete with us,’” lawyer Josh Binder offered to Billboard. So, maybe not?

Nevertheless, the move may come from an artist who doesn’t feel they can write new material, at least not as well as their older stuff. While this doesn’t seem to be the case for Swift, perhaps there are artists who were big successes in the ’90s or early 2000s who want a bigger cut of their catalog. So, they’ll cut their one-hit again and reap the benefits. It could work, even as a publicity stunt.

In the past, a few other artists have already tried this on a smaller scale, including Neil Young, who’s rerecorded some of his earlier records. Or perhaps the mere threat of leveraging that possibility will lead to some contract wizardry from other artists. As we’ve seen year after year, the future is unpredictable. Though record executives hope it’s the opposite.

But would someone like Kid Rock attempt it? The Spin Doctors? LL Cool J? Maybe. Perhaps as we look down the road, it will not just be the future ahead of us, but the future (Taylor’s Version).

Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner

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