Taylor Swift is Rerecording Her Albums and Here’s What You Need To Know

Written by Renée Borcas

March 26, 2021

After back-to-back surprise album drops, Taylor Swift has begun the rollout of her re-recorded albums, starting with her second studio album, Fearless. You might be wondering why Swift would rerelease these chart-topping albums with minimal changes in the first place and why she doesn’t own her masters—that’s actually pretty common in the music industry. 

So if you’ve ever wondered why Taylor is putting all this effort to recreate albums that sound nearly identical to the ones fans already know and love, here’s your answer. 

Long Story Short

Shamrock Holdings

Swift signed her first record deal in 2005 with Nashville-based Big Machine Records. Fifteen-year-old Swift was the first artist signed to the label run by Scott Borchetta. The 13-year contract gave BMR the rights to Swift’s first six albums before expiring in 2018.

After the contract expired, Swift signed with Republic Records, which is owned by Universal Music Group. One notable change from her previous contract was that under the new deal, Swift fully owned the rights to the original albums—also called masters—that she created under the agreement, starting with her 2019 album Lover.

Bad Blood

Shamrock Holdings

On June 30, 2019, Big Machine Records announced its acquisition by talent manager and businessman Scooter Braun and his company Ithaca Holdings. This purchase included the ownership of Swift’s first six albums, which Swift would criticize in a Tumblr post

In her Tumblr post, she described failed attempts to try to buy her masters and said she was unaware that Braun, who Swift described as an “incessant, manipulative bully,” would be the one to buy her masters. Braun also formerly represented Kanye West, whom Swift has publicly feuded with for years. She said she felt betrayed by Borchetta, who Swift said was aware of her negative relationship with Braun and moved forward with the deal without informing her beforehand. 

Borchetta defended himself in a blog post, describing how the acquisition had been discussed in shareholder calls, in which Swift’s father or his lawyer or management may have attended. He contradicted Swift’s claims, saying he personally texted her the day before the public announcement of the deal. He also shared an unverified message that he claims Swift sent before joining Republic Records saying, “owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture.”

Begin Again

Taylor Swift

Braun sold the masters in October 2020 to Shamrock Holdings, an American private equity firm owned by the Disney family. The deal was reportedly worth $300 million. Swift said she was given the opportunity to bid on her masters if she were to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding her statements on Braun but declined. She also turned down becoming an equity partner with Shamrock Holdings, as Braun would continue to benefit from her six original masters. 

Since Swift still does not own her masters, she has chosen to re-record her first six albums so she could fully own and distribute them. She began re-recording in November 2020 and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released on April 9, 2021. The album quickly rose to number one on the charts and featured unreleased songs from the original record, pleasing fans and achieving Swift’s goal of replacing the original album.

Fans expect Taylor to continue to release her re-recordings in the coming months or years. Speculations suspect that her third studio album, Speak Now, or her sixth album, 1989, will be next, but only time will tell.