Taylor Swift, making good on her vow to re-record her first six albums so she can control their rights, on Thursday announced plans to release the new version of her second record “Fearless” in April.
The 31-year-old also said that an extremely successful album’s lead single “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” would come out at midnight.
“The way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I’m coming from,” Swift said in a statement posted on social media.
In addition to the 20 tracks originally on the 2008 album “Fearless” — which includes the hits “You Belong With Me” and “Fifteen” — Swift said she was including six more “never before released songs from the vault,” a fresh take on the album set for release April 9.
In the summer of 2019 Swift began publicly sparring with industry mogul Scooter Braun over his company’s purchase of her previous label, which gave him a majority stake in the master recordings of her first six albums.
The heated feud and her bold promise to re-record those works ignited discussion over who keeps the keys to an artist’s work, and the conditions under which young musicians sign contracts.
The owner of lucrative masters — one-of-a-kind source material used to create vinyls, CDs and digital copies — is able to dictate how songs are reproduced and sold.
Record companies have almost always kept those rights, justifying the arrangements by the financial risks labels take in supporting performers throughout their contracts.
Swift said she had been actively trying to regain control of her masters, but in November 2020 said she learned the rights to her first six albums were sold to the private equity company Shamrock Holdings, reportedly for more than $300 million.
That same month was the moment she was allowed to contractually begin re-recording her albums — which she had promised to do in a bid to devalue the original recordings.
The Nashville label Big Machine released “Fearless” in 2008, a country-pop mainstream breakthrough that saw Swift score four Grammys, including the top Album of the Year award, and sell more than 10 million copies stateside.
Her first album released under those terms was “Lover,” which she followed with the twin pandemic records “folklore” and “evermore” this past summer.