“You Belong with Me” Taylor Swift Re-releases her 2008 album Fearless
Taylor Swift is a world record artist that grew up in the music industry, starting her career while only 14. In 2004, Swift was the youngest to sign the company, Sony/ATV, where she then moved to Big Machine Time Records in 2006. With the company, she released her first Top 40 hit, “Tim McGraw” leading her into her successful career of winning 11 grammys and releasing various hits to this day. But in 2018, Swift overcame a bump in a music career when ending her 13 year contract with Big Machine Time Records and signed a new agreement with Universal Music Group. From that point forward, Swift had finally gotten complete ownership over her future master recordings, but Swift still failed to gain control over her past multi million dollar records.
In February 2021, Swift announced that she had re-recorded her biggest hit 2008 album Fearless, and would be officially releasing the re-recorded album that included six unreleased songs as Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on April 9,2021. Fearless is Swift’s most successful record, with songs like “Love Story” and “You Belong to Me,” selling more than seven million albums, but because of her signing with Big Machine Records at the time she was unable to win over complete ownership from albums before 2018.
In an CNN Business article, Serona Elton, director of music business program at the University of Miami Frost School Music, told CNN, “The recordings she made originally were made at a different time and under different contractual and legal objections. She's not happy about this. The artist gets paid a percentage of the revenue generated by the recording, but they're not in control.” Due to the legal agreement that Swift was under, it granted Big Machine Time Records copyright ownership of the recordings she made, which failed her to have full control over what happened to her recordings.
In a 2019 Tumblr post, Swift wrote, “This is what happens when you sign a deal at 15 to someone for whom the term 'loyalty' is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says 'music has value', he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it." Going forward in her music career, not having complete ownership over her own records angered Swift and she decided to take back what is rightfully hers. "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 explains 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."
Due to her dedicated and loyal fanbase, many believe that Swift re-recording her past albums is a powerful strategy of regaining control. With fans abandoning the past album and listening to the newly released, it allows Taylor to not only gain the financial ownership she had lost, but freedom from past situations with managers and record labels.
During the 2021 Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift was awarded her first Grammy for an album she had complete ownership over, folklore released in 2020. Then, shortly after releasing her version of Fearless less than a month later, Swift began to make 2021 her year. The night before the new release of the album Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Taylor announced in a tweet, “It was the night everything changed.”