By Julia Posillico | December 2, 2021
Taylor Swift is an iconic name in the music industry with fans around the world, and with hundreds of millions of fans comes hundreds of millions of dollars. Swift has broken many records and has experienced great success in the music industry, with five concert tours making almost a billion dollars.
Her old record label, Big Machine Records, sold the masters of her music to Scooter Braun for $300 million in 2019. Braun owning the master would now mean that any time anyone wanted to use Swift’s music in a show or ad, they would have to get Braun’s permission and pay a licensing fee to him. This was very upsetting to Swift, who wanted to own her own music, so she decided if she could do it once she could do it again.
This idea prompted her to begin re-recording her first six albums (Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, and Reputation) so that she could personally own the masters to these new versions. The new recordings are labeled as “Taylor’s Version” and have broken records in the music industry due to their popularity. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has been streamed almost 600 million times and sold more than 867,000 album-equivalent units; this is over four times the sales of the original Fearless album in the same time frame. It is a win-win since fans enjoy listening to the songs with her more mature voice, and she gets to own her music. This has also led to her initial recordings in which Braun still owns the masters to drop in value significantly.
There is an immense demand for Swift’s music as she has released two albums in 2020 and two albums in 2021 and has been on the top charts worldwide. When artists do not own their own masters, they often make a very small percentage of their sales (usually around 10-20%), but by owning their own masters, they can keep a much larger majority of it (usually around 80-95%).
It is challenging to actually compare the sales of the original albums to the re-recordings. With the original release, most sales were with physical albums, as where now most purchases come from streaming services. When Fearless came out in 2008, 592,304 copies sold in the first week. Fearless (Taylor's Version), which came out in 2021, sold 291,000 equivalent album units in one week, significantly less, but the album was much more popular and had 143 million streams in its opening week. Taylors re-records have seen and continue to see great success continuing to boost her net worth, which is currently 550 million dollars according to Forbes.