Major labels “overhauling contracts” to prevent artists from re-recording their music like Taylor Swift has

Artists are reportedly moving towards licensing deals rather than traditional label contracts.

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Taylor Swift on stage. She is holding a brown microphone in one hand, and holds the trail of her long green dress in the other. She is looking out into the audience.

Image: Fernando Leon / TAS23 via Getty Images

Major labels are reportedly “overhauling contracts” for newly signed artists, with some now restricting artists from re-recording their music no earlier than 10 years or more after leaving their label.

These new limits appear to have been implemented following the success of pop artist Taylor Swift who is re-recording her albums to regain ownership of her music. The musician is releasing her records as revamped Taylor’s Version cuts.

Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group are three major labels who have recently overhauled contracts for new signees to introduce these new restrictions, according to Billboard.

“The first time I saw [UMG’s new contracts], I tried to get rid of it entirely,” attorney Josh Karp tells the outlet. “I was just like, ‘What is this? This is strange. Why would we agree to further restrictions than we’ve agreed to in the past with the same label?’”

Attorney Josh Binder also says, “[The labels’] position is, ‘Hey, if we’re going to spend a bunch of money creating this brand with you, then you should not try and create records to compete with us.’ We try and fight it. We try and make it as short as possible. But I don’t find it to be the most compelling issue to fight.”

Because of these implementations, some artists are said to be moving towards licensing deals. These would allow artists more ownership of their masters whilst the label would handle distribution. In traditional record deal contracts, artists sign away the rights to their recordings for a set timeframe.

As reported by Vox, Swift’s process to re-record her catalogue began back in 2019. Her old record label, Big Machine Records, had been sold to music manager Scooter Braun. The move gave Braun the rights to all the master recordings for her old music, which Swift was publicly upset about. She moved to Republic Records and negotiated to own the rights to all of her master recordings going forward.


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