Is Music Making Money Again? And What’s This About a New Taylor Swift Album? - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
27387
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-27387,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-3.3,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.6.0,vc_responsive
 

Is Music Making Money Again? And What’s This About a New Taylor Swift Album?

Is Music Making Money Again? And What’s This About a New Taylor Swift Album?

We are at a weird time in music for many reasons, and one of those reasons is that investors believe music is going to be making money again.1 After a 15-year decline in music revenues due to piracy and decreased physical sales, many believe the ubiquity of streaming services will bring about some stability for music royalties.2 With this change, investors began to see music catalogs as an attractive investment and this brought about unprecedented, multi-million-dollar music catalog acquisition prices.3 There are even companies projecting optimistic forecasts of future revenue by arguing that the music industry is undergoing rapid change and trying to launch IPOs for song royalties.4

Now, what does increased investment in music have to do with Taylor Swift? Well, her recently announced plans to release re-recordings of her Fearless album5 will definitely put a dent in the revenue expected by the investors that bought her catalog for an amount speculated to be between $300 million and $450 million.6 For context, in late 2020, Taylor Swift publicly recounted how her catalog was sold to investors without her knowledge and reiterated her plan to re-record her old music.7 And her re-recordings were permitted to proceed in November 2020, under the terms of her contract.8

This is not the first time an artist has re-recorded their old music. Jojo ended up re-recording her old songs after parting with her label, and now you can find the new versions of her songs on all streaming services.9 It is important to note that Jojo’s re-recording plan is not exactly comparable because Taylor Swift’s re-recordings are certainly going to cover more songs and there is more attention on her dispute with the investors that own her catalog.10 Feel free to judge for yourself if the new version of ‘Love Story’ compares.11

All the lengths Taylor Swift is going through to re-record her old music does make one wonder: why has our music industry standardized artist contracts where artists themselves do not own their own music? Well, it seems like there may be some progress on this issue. Issa Rae recently launched Raedio, a self-described “audio everywhere company” that is a joint venture with Atlantic Records, where artists will be able to own their own catalogs.12 Hopefully sometime in the future, it will become more common for artists to own their own work and we can enjoy all versions of music without wondering where the royalties will end up.

Nevertheless, the reality is that artists owning their own work is still considered to be trailblazing, and many questions remain unanswered. Will fans abandon Taylor Swift’s older music and gravitate towards her new versions? Will investors stop making record-setting investments in music catalogs? Will more music companies standardize giving artists the rights to their music? These questions will likely remain unanswered for some time. But at least sometime soon we will definitively know which of Taylor Swift’s unreleased tracks will make it to the new album. April 9th anyone?13


  1. See Jimmy Stone, Why Music Royalties Are an Attractive Asset Class, Toptal, https://www.toptal.com/finance/market-research-analysts/music-royalty-investing (last visited Feb. 11, 2021)[https://perma.cc/WHX2-XQJD].

  2. See id.

  3. See id.; see also Cherie Hu, Is Now Really The Best Time To Invest In Music Royalties?, Forbes (Jan. 4, 2018, 12:16 PM), https://www.forbes.com/sites/cheriehu/2018/01/04/is-now-really-the-best-time-to-invest-in-music-royalties/?sh=39de1b723c8e [https://perma.cc/MMK8-6XKJ].

  4. See id.

  5. See Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13), Twitter (Feb. 11, 2021, 8:17 AM), https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1359854050544615425 [https://perma.cc/C7FM-C6ZG].

  6. See Shirley Halperin, Scooter Braun Sells Taylor Swift’s Big Machine Masters for Big Payday, Variety (Nov. 16, 2020), https://variety.com/2020/music/news/scooter-braun-sells-taylor-swift-big-machine-masters-1234832080/[https://perma.cc/WWA5-F56H].

  7. See Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13), Twitter (Nov. 16, 2020, 5:55 PM), https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1328471874318311425 [https://perma.cc/2URP-5BHP].

  8. See Anastasia Tsioulcas, Look What They Made Her Do: Taylor Swift To Re-Record Her Catalog, NPR (Aug. 22, 2019, 11:14 AM),https://www.npr.org/2019/08/22/753393630/look-what-they-made-her-do-taylor-swift-to-re-record-her-catalog [https://perma.cc/PA94-ESVS].

  9. See Hugh McIntyre, Pop Singer JoJo Talks Re-Releasing Her Biggest Hits And Reclaiming Her Musical History, Forbes (Jan. 11, 2019, 9:25 AM), https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2019/01/11/pop-singer-jojo-talks-re-releasing-her-biggest-hits-and-reclaiming-her-musical-history/?sh=1d8302455e0a [https://perma.cc/U6GZ-Z9TL].

  10. See Swift, note 7 supra.[footnote]

    Regarding those investors, her re-recording plan is sure to dampen their hopes to receive steady revenue from her old music. Some pop music critics even believe these re-recordings will be a big hit to investors’ revenue because these soon-to-be-released songs sound so similar to her old music.[footnote]See Popcast: 2020 Popcast Listener Mailbag: Taylor, Dua, MGK and More, The N.Y. Times (Dec. 23, 2020) (streamed using Spotify).

  11. See Taylor Swift, Love Story (Taylor’s Version)(Taylor Swift 2021).

  12. SeeJem Aswad, Issa Rae Launches Raedio Label With Atlantic; Watch First Release, TeaMarrr’s ‘Kinda Love’, Variety(Oct. 18, 2019, 7:55 AM PST), https://variety.com/2019/music/news/issa-rae-insecure-teamarrr-raedio-label-atlantic-kinda-love-watch-1203375229/[https://perma.cc/B9JR-VU7A]; see also Taylor Mims, From TV to Music Mogul: How Issa Rae Is Giving Artists A Leg Up, Billboard (Feb. 13, 2020), https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8550816/issa-rae-productions-raedio-company-insecure-interview [https://perma.cc/5MC5-U3QQ].

  13. See jenna (@cleanoncornelia), Twitter (Feb. 11, 2021, 8:25 AM), https://twitter.com/cleanoncornelia/status/1359856106533752833 [https://perma.cc/78YU-EYKU].

Samantha Romano

Samantha Romano is a second-year J.D. candidate at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from Connecticut College.