December 22, 2019
In 2019, the American singer has helped change the balance of power between creators and the music industryTaylor Swift’s continued dominance was once in doubt. The death knell for the traditional form of pop icon that she represented had been rung by critics. Yet she has ended 2019 back on top: her seventh album, Lover, is this year’s only record to sell more than 1m copies. But if we take Swift at her word, the 2019 success she will most cherish is how she has turned obscure details about artistic ownership into mainstream concerns. In June, the music mogul Scooter Braun bought her former label, Big Machine, and with it the master recordings of her first six albums. Swift claimed that, despite concerted efforts, she was never given the opportunity to buy her masters outright. She has made ownership into a feminist issue.
The Guardian view on Taylor Swift’s fight for her rights: empowering a new generation of artists | Editorial
After stating that she would use her leverage to fight for musicians’ rights, Swift has become a catalyst in the reckoning that faces record labels. She owns her recordings in her new deal with Universal. Similar situations are unfolding as other established artists renegotiate contracts they had signed as unknowns, back when their work constituted an investment to the labels betting on them, especially given that their lucrative catalogues effectively constitute free money for labels as physical product has declined.
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