The media lemmings are out today.
A two line moment from Tracy Smith’s interview with Taylor Swift on “CBS Sunday Morning” this weekend has every outlet blaring: “Taylor Swift to re-record her albums!”
Uh, no, she’s not.
Smith asked Swift about Scooter Braun buying her label, Big Machine, and her catalog of albums. Swift has already said she was duped– ridiculous– but actually just outbid. Braun didn’t buy her publishing, just the records she’s made– the masters.
Well, you know what? Prince tried to re-record his catalog. It won’t work. The versions that are out there are now the standards. Radio, streaming, etc– it can’t be replaced with new versions. Won’t work. And it’s cost prohibitive. Otherwise, everyone would do it.
Taylor, this is what you do: you record a live album of hits. If they’re different enough, in time those versions will stick on playlists.
Re-records have been a common practice in rock and roll for decades. Artists have always done that. The NY Post just ran a story saying that it’s against a contract or something. That’s hooey. There’s no such thing.
The fact is, fans want the record they first bought. Prince found that out the hard way.
Listen, I sympathize with Taylor. But really, the deal is out of her hands. She should make peace with Scooter Braun to maximize her catalog. In time, she can record lots of versions of “Shake it Off” and all the hits, and believe me, she will. In ten years, when her fan base has aged out, that’s exactly what she’ll be doing, like every other artist. How many times do you think Paul McCartney has re-recorded “Let it Be”?