If you can’t beat ’em, rerecord ’em. According to a press release, Taylor Swift will announce plans to rerecord her entire six-album back catalog in an interview with Tracy Smith on this week’s episode CBS Sunday Morning. In the interview, when Smith asks Swift whether she plans to rerecord her earlier songs to have control over the masters — which were recently bought by Swift’s nemesis Scooter Braun — Swift responds not only with an “oh yeah,” but even a “yeah, absolutely.”
What would drive an artist to rerecord six albums’ worth work? In brief: At the end June, two weeks after the release LGBTQ-Ally track (not that LGBTQ-Ally track) “You Need to Calm Down,” Swift updated her Tumblr with a personal, heartfelt message: that Braun, Kanye West’s former manager, had bought the masters to all her past work from her longtime previous label, Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. In the post, she explained why she’d left last fall for Universal: She did not want to sign a contract with Borchetta and have to work to earn back the ownership rights to her masters track by track. And now Braun — whom Swift calls an “incessant, manipulative” bully — has total ownership over her past six albums after acquiring Big Machine.
Fans were incensed on her behalf, and supporters like Kelly Clarkson chimed in with an idea: If she didn’t want to buy the masters back from Braun, why not rerecord the tracks altogether?
This would not be the first battle Swift has waged over issues music ownership and artists’ rights: She has taken streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify to task over royalties in the past. Nor would Swift be the first artist to leave a record label and then rerecord her tracks to gain ownership; JoJo rerecorded her debut album after her old label Blackground removed it from streaming services last fall. The possibility rerecorded versions her old songs, especially in an age when listeners are less likely to keep older, physical manifestations media that can be streamed and edited, raises some questions for Swifties: Will the old versions still be available? Will these new recordings old favorites be 2019 Lion King–level uncanny copies? Will she re-create that “Our Song”–era faux twang? One can only hope that Swift will go further into detail in her interview, which airs on CBS on August 25.