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Taylor Swift: A Voice for Musicians

Shivani Tripathi

Posted on July 5, 2019 16:54

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Taylor Swift advocated for artists' rights to own their music.

Earlier this week, Taylor Swift took to Tumblr, expressing her sadness that music industry tycoon Scooter Braun purchased Big Machine Records--a record label that owns all of Swift’s albums. 

Swift signed onto Big Machine when she was 15. Her success essentially built the label up from the ground. Despite everything she gave, its owner, Scott Borchetta, did not let her buy back her albums. Instead, he said she could “earn” one old album for every new one she released under Big Machine. “I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future,” Swift wrote. “I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”

Swift found out with the rest of the world that Borchetta was selling Big Machine to none other than Braun. Braun had bullied her for years, notably through his client Kanye West and Kim Kardashian--both who targeted Swift with slander, harrasment on social media, and revenge porn. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” Swift said. 

It is surprising that Taylor Swift, one of the most successful musicians in the country, cannot even own her music. Throughout the past week, prominent celebrities supported Swift on social media. 

Braun’s clients Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato came to his defense on Instagram, as did his wife, Yael Cohen. None of them addressed how Braun would own Swift’s music forever--songs that Swift had written herself, while most artists have had others compose their lyrics for them. 

Variety questioned what Swift’s “endgame” was in this whole feud. Braun probably won’t let her buy back her albums--without Swift, Big Machine would collapse. And Swift knows this. I believe her intention was to expose the shady yet legal way record labels exploit musicians. Most people do not know that many artists do not have the right to what they create. 

Moreover, Swift’s letter is another example of her advocating for lesser known musicians. Artists starting out in the industry can be easily manipulated into signing unfair contracts. Although she succeeded in getting Spotify to pay musicians more, Swift doesn’t have the power to change how powerful people in the industry do business. However, her story serves as a cautionary tale--hopefully steering aspiring artists away from the same trap. 

 

Shivani Tripathi

Posted on July 5, 2019 16:54

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