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The story behind "Taylor's Version"

Art by Afreen Majumdar

On October 27th, Taylor Swift released 1989 (Taylor’s Version). This left many people confused and wondering why she was releasing an album that she’d already released. It might seem like a money grab, but it’s not.

In 2005, when she was fifteen years old, Taylor Swift signed with Big Machine Records. The deal lasted thirteen years, and Swift released six albums with them: Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, and Reputation. Under the deal, Swift owned the publishing rights to the music because she wrote it herself, and Big Machine owned the masters to the albums and recordings.

When the contract was near ending, Swift’s management suggested that Big Machine sell the masters back to her. The publishing company agreed to sell the rights to the albums to Swift, as long as she renewed the deal for the next decade. She was not happy with this offer, as she did not want to continue working with the company, and a compromise was never reached.

When she originally signed with them, Big Machine was under the ownership of Scott Borchetta. However, Scooter Braun purchased the company in 2019. Braun had formerly been the manager for Kanye West, as well as other music artists.

Because of Braun’s involvement with Kanye West and his history with Swift, she was distrustful of him. Braun had been involved with the making of the music video for “Famous” which contained what was essentially revenge porn of Swift. The song also created a scandal which caused her to go into hiding from the media.

She had not been informed that Braun would be buying Big Machine Records, and stated, “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” and referred to Braun as an “incessant, manipulative bully.”

Swift was very public about her feelings in the situation, and there was a lot of back and forth on both sides about the situation. On Twitter, Kelly Clarkson gave her opinion and said, “Just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point.”

Swift took Clarkson’s advice and came up with the idea for “Taylor’s Version.” She decided to re-record the six “stolen” albums and release them with new photography under the original title with "(Taylor’s Version)" added to the end of the album title and each song. In the re-recording of the album, she also includes “From the Vault” tracks, which are songs that were written for the original album but were not released when the albums were originally released.

So far, Swift has re-recorded her albums Fearless, Red, Speak Now, 1989, and only has Reputation and her debut album left.

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