I'm sure you have heard enough about Taylor Swift after this summer and reading anything more about her might seem like your worst nightmare. Maybe you don't like her music, maybe you don't like her fans and maybe you just don't get the hype. Regardless of your opinion, I think you should care about what she brings to the table as a powerful woman. If you haven't heard of “Taylor’s Version,'' (or if you have and don't think it's important) I strongly encourage you to continue reading — maybe you can gain some perspective on why this is about so much more than music.
To fully understand this story, we have to start back in 2005 when Swift first signed with Big Machine Records (BMR). She was 15 years old. The record deal she signed gave BMR ownership to her first six albums. Swift had no idea what was about to happen to her career. By 19 she became the biggest name in the pop industry, and by 33 she would literally be boosting the economy with her tour.
After her sixth studio album "Reputation" was released, Swift wanted to leave BMR. She proposed the idea of purchasing the rights to her masters (original recordings), but the request was denied. During all of this, Swift was also facing mass hate due to her scandal with Kanye West. West released a music video to his song “Famous,” which Swift has described as “revenge porn” due to the explicit imagery and lyrics that targeted her. Scooter Braun, an executive in the music industry, was the creator of this video. Braun is also speculated to have worked with West in a lot of other manipulations toward Swift.
After being denied the purchase of her own music, BMR went behind her back and sold it to Braun. Her music now belongs to the man who tried to exploit her and sabotage her career. This is what led to Swift re-recording her albums now known as “Taylor’s versions.”
One benefit of Swift's contract with BMR is that she still had ownership over the lyrics and music, so she is legally able to re-record these albums and re-release them to the public on her own terms.
Many people argue that she is selfishly doing this to make more money in royalties from streaming platforms. But let's be real — Swift does not need more money. This is about being a businesswoman and not letting men in the industry take advantage of her.
Throughout her career, Swift has faced massive amounts of discrimination within the industry. One of the main criticisms that Swift has faced is that all she writes about is breakups and relationships and heartbreak. Men are rarely accused of this. In fact, this criticism is heavily associated with Swift. If you take a deeper look into her lyrics you might recognize that she writes about way more than that, and that is why this music is so important to her.
Swift was sued for defamation after she accused DJ David Mueller of sexually assaulting her at a meet and greet in 2013. She counter sued for one dollar and the court sided in her favor. She wrote the song “Clean” off “1989” about her assault. That song now belongs to Braun.
In 2009 Swift won the VMA for best female video over Beyonce — an infamous day in pop culture that I am sure we are all familiar with. West stormed the stage, took the microphone from 19-year-old Swift and told her and the whole audience that she didn't deserve it. Seven years after that, clearly still stuck on Swift, West released the song and music video for “Famous” (along with Braun) with the lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b—- famous” — a lyric that Swift never agreed to, despite the footage you may have seen of her agreeing. If you don't see the blatant sexism and harassment towards Swift in these events, then you are one with thousands of other people that tried to end Swift's career in 2016.
After a year in hiding, Swift came back stronger than ever and wrote “Look What You Made Me Do” about West and Braun and their attempts to minimize her success. That song now belongs to Braun.
Swift has fought tirelessly to get to where she is in the industry and still faces constant criticism. When she re-records an album, she gains a piece of her that was taken away by the men and the system that has tried to tear her down. Swift's fans may be annoyingly obsessed (guilty!), but we are loyal to not only her, but to the fight for women's success in a male-dominated industry. While you may not care about getting tickets for her tour or anxiously awaiting the release of more music, you should care about her right to own her music.
Swift is not only an incredibly talented songwriter and performer, but she is also a businesswoman. She knows what she deserves and she has had to fight for her success much more than your favorite male singer in the industry. So next time you turn on “Love Story,” “22” or “Enchanted,” (because let's be real — we all know that you like those songs) make sure you are listening to “Taylor’s Version.”
Netty Jurriaans is the Community Engagement Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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