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Swift, whose new album releases Friday, made the comment in an interview that’s set to air on “CBS Sunday Morning” this weekend. Unlike her earlier albums, Swift controls her masters for the new album, “Lover,” which will be released on Republic Records.
In June, Scooter Braun bought Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville record label that discovered Swift and signed her to a deal when she was just 15. Braun reportedly paid $300 million for the label, which released Swift’s fist six albums and owns the masters.
In a blog post at the time, Swift accused Braun of bullying and called his purchase of her back catalog the “worst case scenario.”
So is Braun just out of luck if Swift does re-record her old songs? Is his investment washed down the drain? Not necessarily.
For one, Big Machine owns more than just Swift’s early work, though her high-selling albums did propel the label from a smalltime operation to a business moving large numbers of records. Its various subsidiaries have worked with popular country artists like Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line and Reba McEntire. TMZ, using two exclamation marks, reported that the label’s full catalog is valued at close to $1 billion.
Swift, who crossed genre lines from country to top-40 pop, may still account for a big piece of the label’s value. As of July, she’d sold 32.7 million albums in the U.S. and was the 23rd-best-selling album artist since at least 1991, Billboard reported. Her song “Shake It Off” has been streamed more than 1 billion times.
The details of Swift’s contract with Big Machine will also play a role. Swift writes or co-writes her songs, so she’ll still get a cut of sales from her older albums.
The contract may include a common “re-record” clause that could prevent Swift from recording those songs again, according to TMZ. However, that clause usually has an expiration date.
The practice of artists re-recording their popular songs used to be more common in the 1950s and ‘60s. Artists like Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers did it. And performers including the late artist Prince, have occasionally used it as a tactic in disputes with their labels since then.