Re-releasing songs rises in the music industry


Photo by Taylor Swift Store

Katelynn Jones, Reporter/Photographer

  A new era of re-recording and re-releasing songs and albums is rising in the music industry. Artists have been releasing their music again to either prevent legal problems with management and money or for personal, artistic reasons. 

    According to  NPR, to re-record old music, artists need to own the publishing rights of the songs and any contracts of previous rights have to be terminated. Due to recent lawsuits, contracts have become more strict to prevent artists from producing their music a second time.

  Most smaller artists don’t re-release their music because it requires money and time. Therefore, the music industry has evolved to benefit larger management companies. Many artists are being taken advantage of by not receiving any compensation or recognition.

    The most popular case of re-releasing music occurred recently with Taylor Swift. After Swift’s thirteen-year contract expired with Big Machine Records, music executive Scooter Braun sold six of her first albums without her knowledge. Braun then told Swift that she wasn’t allowed to publicly talk about the situation or perform any of her older songs unless she promised not to re-record her music.

  Swift announced that she was going to re-record her early music as “Taylor’s Version.” She asked her fans not only to make sure their voices can be heard about the subject, but to support other artists who may have to deal with the same situation. 

    “Scott Borchetta [CEO of Big Machine Records] told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun,” stated Swift in November of 2019.

    On April 9, 2021, Swift released Fearless (Taylor’s Version), including all of the original songs and six songs from the Vault. The Vault is a collection of music that Swift wrote at the same time as the original albums; however, they didn’t make the cut due to her management’s prevention.

    In November of 2021, Swift will release Red (Taylor’s Version) and plans to continue working towards releasing the four remaining albums.

    Another case of re-recording music occurred in 2012 when Def Leppard re-released their biggest hits because their record label, The Universal Music Group, did not give them the compensation they expected. Six years later, JoJo released re-recorded versions of her first two albums after suing her label.

    Other artists have re-released music without as much talk and attention due to the lack of legal issues. As artists get older and perform for longer, their voices grow and mature which may increase the desire to re-record original music. In 2020, Wheatus re-released their first, self-titled album to celebrate its 20 year anniversary. 

    Re-recording and reproducing music allows artists to show their growth and to prevent labels from taking creative ownership as well. Now, fans can support their favorite artists without the restrictions of larger labels by streaming their newer versions.