Taylor Swift called the recent sale of Big Machine Label Group to Scooter Braun’s company her “worst case scenario,” because it means that Kanye West’s former manager now owns her life’s work. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” she lamented in June. But Kelly Clarkson suggested a workaround, telling Swift she should rerecord her old songs as a way of reclaiming ownership. It seems Swift is taking Clarkson’s advice: CBS broke the news on Wednesday that the artist—whose next album, Lover, will be her first since moving to Universal Music Group—does in fact have a plan to rerecord her earlier albums. On Thursday, Swift confirmed it during a Good Morning America interview.
“It’s something I’m very excited about doing because my contract says that starting November 2020, so next year, I can record albums 1–5 all over again,” Swift said. “Artists deserve to own their work.” Swift actually recorded six albums with Big Machine Records, but based on her phrasing, she does not currently plan to rerecord Reputation, which was released in 2017, probably because it’s too recent. It’s also unclear whether she will rerecord those first five albums in their entirety or just her biggest hits.
Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta has said that Swift “had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career” but chose to leave anyway. Swift disputes that characterization, saying that she would have had to sign with Big Machine Records again and “earn” the rights to her old albums one at a time by making six new ones. Her lawyer told the Hollywood Reporter, “Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others.” Braun, for his part, posted a photo of Jeff Bezos on Instagram on Thursday with the quote, “Entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”
While she’s announcing major news about old songs, Swift is also quietly tweaking new ones: The Apple Music version of “ME!” is now missing a much-mocked lyric. When the single was first released in April, the bridge began with Swift and Brendon Urie shouting, “Hey, kids! Spelling is fun!” Ahead of Lover’s release on Friday, that part of the song has disappeared, though the words can still be heard in the official music video.