The Difference is Still Clear and the Passion Behind it Palpable
February 12, 2021 4:21 PM   Subscribe

“This process has been more fulfilling and emotional than I could’ve imagined and has made me ever more determined to re-record all of my music.” Taylor Swift Delivers Big F-You to Scooter Braun With Re-Recorded ‘Love Story’ [Daily Beast] posted by chavenet (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am appallingly ignorant of Swift's music, but as someone who believes in artists' rights strongly enough that I started my own damn record label to try to give a few artists more control over their music, I am applauding this so hard my hands hurt.

Good for Taylor Swift. Here's hoping her increased control over her music leads to ever more creativity and satisfaction for her, and offers inspiration to other musicians to maintain as much control over their work as possible.

Thank you for posting this, chavenet - I doubt it would have risen to the top of my news feed otherwise, and I'm very glad to know about it!
posted by kristi at 5:00 PM on February 12 [16 favorites]


I’m also ambivalent about the actual music, but I strongly applaud her for doing this.

Also, great related link.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:47 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


The contracts that (often very young) musicians are given tend to be incredibly one sided. Good for her for re-recording and hopefully reclaiming the music.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


What a cool project. I’m sure she has a bunch of “I can’t believe I wrote that” moments or like week after releasing it thought of improvements etc. But you gotta respect staying on focus and just sticking to making a drop-in replacement for the originals. It would be neat to like put them out as singles with “how I’d write this today” versions added but only if that didn’t take up a bunch of time — she’s got six albums to get through!
posted by aubilenon at 6:34 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


They may throw me out of the Old Fart Club, but I’ve grown to respect both Swift, as an artist, and her music. I mean, it’s not entirely my cup o’ tea, but she genuinely seems to care about her craft and her songs. Good on her for this.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:06 PM on February 12 [21 favorites]


I'm with you on this, Thorzdad. My teen daughter doesn't care for Swift at all although she recognizes the talent. Me, while I don't love all of her material, I think that Swift is extremely musically talented and can create really good songs in many different styles.

I'm glad that she's been able to do this and that it serves as a warning for all young musicians to be careful when offered to dance with the labels and the bigwigs.
posted by ashbury at 7:37 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite bands, much less famous than Swift, re-recorded all their early Label-work albums to get them back for themselves. The albums they recorded are an interesting mix: the first is their most famous and is newly rendered nearly note-for-note to the original. The second was a weaker album with better material, and they changed a couple of arrangements and swapped out a song, but mostly re-ordered the album so it flows better. And it is much better. The third remade project, however... was entirely reimagined. Like, the songs are the same, but that's about all. Arrangements are different, song order is not just different but even is unfamiliar with several swap-outs in the track listing.

It's a fascinating thing for a band to do. These are albums this band has been playing songs from live for, like, maybe 15 years (for the oldest one).... So they've learned the songs in a new way, they have new things to say, and they're reclaiming the recording legacy of this material so it's on their own label and not from that earlier contract.

I think it's a brilliant move to make. Good on them! And good on Swift!
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Squeeze did this as well about 10 years ago, Glenn Tilbrook gives his perspective here.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:30 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


For licensing and streaming, rerecording is a great way for some artists to get back some control over their work, but there's something as bit off about the idea of rereleasing what are essentially covers of old songs as something to be purchased as an album for how it is akin to double dipping from your fan base based on how strongly they identify with you as a celebrity.

That's more problematic because the artists who can do this successfully have to have reached a certain level of fame where they still have a strong fanbase to engage. That then is getting those fans to give up their money to the artist again, even as those artists likely are or were wealthier than their fans. It's suggesting that fan money was misspent before, so give it again so "I", the artist, can get the direct benefit.

To the extent the fans go along with it, that's certainly their choice and of course it's better artists benefit than rent seeking copyright holders who's only skill is having lots of money, but it's also just another example of how skewed towards celebrity the culture can so often be, where the rights of one wealthy celeb are important enough for "you" to invest your energy and cash to stand up against other super wealthy types. It's not a healthy way for a society to work, either for artists or those who appreciate then. Money and celebrity as values are deeply unhealthy to a society.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:12 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I don't really know enough to know what I think of this, but I can be pretty confident that Scooter Braun sucks
posted by Merus at 9:17 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I wish I could find the Squeeze re-records...
posted by Windopaene at 9:24 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


That's more problematic because the artists who can do this successfully have to have reached a certain level of fame where they still have a strong fanbase to engage. That then is getting those fans to give up their money to the artist again, even as those artists likely are or were wealthier than their fans. It's suggesting that fan money was misspent before, so give it again so "I", the artist, can get the direct benefit.

Re-recording aside, I have repurchased the same music from the same band SO MANY TIMES because of format changes or maybe it's in 5.1 and not just stereo or whatever. I'm not making any of these purchases as a robot, I think them all through, but there are Beatles albums I've bought at least 4 times now.

For a thrilling few years there I was a part of some groups exchanging DVD-burnable extractions of old 4.0 Quad mixes of albums from the Quad era, so I was getting a lot of exploration of basically dead-end media through a new format.

I don't resent any repurchase of any media I've done across my life, really. Except for the very first CD I bought, Yes' 90215, suffered such horrid bitrot by the ten year mark I had to get a new copy. I mean, I thought those things were meant to last forever!
posted by hippybear at 10:03 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


It can happen to you...
posted by Windopaene at 10:13 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I thought I was losing my mind the first time I played the CD and it wouldn't play properly. It wasn't scratched, the sandwich of CD material literally degraded.

I only replaced this within the past month, really. So I've been having a corrupted version of that album (I ripped a corrupted version to my iTunes years and years ago) as my only version for like 25 years.

It's weird to hear it like it's supposed to be. You could lose yourself....
posted by hippybear at 10:21 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


You can can cheat until you're blind...

Had an incedent when I heard this as the LSD was starting...

Never been able to not love this song, despite my unappreciation for most Yes.
posted by Windopaene at 10:27 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


It's a most excellent experience in all kinds of mindsets, and I've had many of them. The whole album is generally More Acceptable Yes for people who generally Don't Like Yes. I blame The Buggles.

Also, this is entirely a derail. But now I know what I'm posting over the weekend.
posted by hippybear at 10:31 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I wish I could find the Squeeze re-records...

Apparently it's an album called Spot the Difference.
posted by The Tensor at 10:39 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


No Up the Junction?

Sad face...

Can't not start crying when hearing this song.
posted by Windopaene at 10:55 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite bands, much less famous than Swift...

Who's the band? I'm curious.

It's weird to hear it like it's supposed to be.

Back in the days when it was vinyl or nothing, I had many albums which had picked up a scratch or two. I got so used to hearing them that way that the pristine copies I eventually bought as replacements almost sounded wrong without the scratch. There's even a few favourite songs from that era where, if I happen to hear them today, I can tell you exactly where the scratch "ought" to be.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:41 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I certainly didn't even hear about Swift in the era of her first four albums - in non-Anglo Europe she didn't break through until her pop turn in 1989 - and I bet she wants other newer fans to be able to buy and hear the old songs without giving money to Scooter Braun and speculative investment funds.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:16 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Sorry to double-post, but it's just occurred to me that iIm not really clear on how the royalties aspect of this works. I get that the re-recorded song would give the artist performance royalties which they don't receive on the original recording, but what about the composer royalties?

I'm assuming that these would stay with the Scooter Braun figure even when it's the re-recorded song that's bringing money in. I mean, it's the same song, right? A new performance, sure, but still the same song. I don't know how the income from a song's use in TV ads is calculated, but presumably some element of that adheres to composer royalties rather than performance royalties too? Have I got that right?
posted by Paul Slade at 1:25 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Yes, but Swift owns the composer rights in this case.
posted by rory at 1:51 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I don't understand how it's ok for people to cover an iconic song and use the cover in a tv ad
posted by Jacen at 2:37 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


the pristine copies I eventually bought as replacements almost sounded wrong without the scratch.

...or the channel kachunk from your homemade 8-track recording.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:04 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


The whole album is generally More Acceptable Yes for people who generally Don't Like Yes.

And I'm sure it's done a great deal of good as a gateway drug to The Fish.
posted by flabdablet at 6:24 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I didn't see any mention: what happens to producers like Max Martin and Shellback when Swift re-records. Are they involved in the re-recording (re-production) of eg Shake it Off? Bc imo, they are amazing dark wizards of pop and they absolutely helped propel (the also highly skilled) Swift to new levels of super-stardom. I think they are a big part of why I was exposed Swift songs and came to enjoy them.

I dunno, maybe they are jerks too? But I wonder if this move may end up cutting out people who were instrumental to the original success of the songs.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:56 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


of course it's better artists benefit than rent seeking copyright holders who's only skill is having lots of money, but it's also just another example of how skewed towards celebrity the culture can so often be, where the rights of one wealthy celeb are important enough for "you" to invest your energy and cash to stand up against other super wealthy types.

Mmmmm . . . *hand-waggling motion* I see your point, but I think your assumptions about "wealthy" and conclusions about "double-dipping" are . . . maybe a little sweeping.

To wit - back in the early 2000's (pre-streaming, IOW) I did a pretty fair number of gigs with folks who had pop or country hits back in the 50's though the 80's, often just one or two of these. Once that initial burst or two of popularity had waned, they'd gone on to day jobs/second careers as real estate agents, or artist management, or owning restaurants, or whatever, and at this point they were basically "weekend warriors", doing a handful of gigs a year for a few grand a pop for, like, 200 - 2000 people, depending. (Most of these shows I did were benefits for small town police and fire departments.)

And, yeah, a lot of them had re-recorded their old material and were selling CD's at their shows and online. Because they'd signed ruinous contracts back in the day, and so they were barely getting songwriter royalties (assuming they had songwriting credit in the first place), and almost no performance royalties, and any hope of getting access & rights to the original master recordings were buried in a swamp of labels sold and resold and split up and out of business and the tapes themselves were who knows where. So it was a heck of a lot cheaper for them to spend a few grand re-recording the tunes and pressing some CD's than it was to engage in legal battles.

And honestly the CD's weren't even a big moneymaker, I don't think - a lot of it was just sort of a bit of bonus income as they did a post-show meet-and-greet with the fans. And a lot of the fans didn't seem to mind all that much because now all their favorite songs were on one disc.

So, yeah, a few grand in income over the weekend is nothing to sneeze at, and a lot of their second careers were pretty lucrative and they only got those careers by having some money in the first place from having hit records, but the whole process of re-recording and re-releasing material is hardly confined to the T. Swift-level celebrity multi-millionaires.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:33 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Mmmmm . . . *hand-waggling motion* I see your point, but I think your assumptions about "wealthy" and conclusions about "double-dipping" are . . . maybe a little sweeping.

That's fair, I was over-generalizing in the sense of thinking about artists still releasing new works to a receptive audience rather than those whose hits were further behind and no longer in the same cycle of industry interest.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:46 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


If the music industry is a fiendishly difficult video game, with extra-treacherous levels full of hidden dangers when playing as a woman, then Taylor Swift is one of the greatest players of all time okay, okay, there is also beyoncé, but let me finish and this is her best boss fight yet, glitching the game to get the best loot box.
posted by dmh at 7:53 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


If the music industry is a fiendishly difficult video game, with extra-treacherous levels full of hidden dangers when playing as a woman, then Taylor Swift is one of the greatest players of all time

Indeed. Swift is, in addition to being an outstandingly popular artist, a formidable business figure who absolutely does not like to be fucked with in any fashion. It's just important to note the latter skills in addition to the former because it is those latter skills that say as much about the state of the arts and reception to them as artistic talent. Swift's career has shown that repeatedly in a number of ways beyond this current situation, not least in her dealings with the Kardasians and West, who've also shown great aptitude for the both sides of the culture as well.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:10 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


One of my favorite bands, much less famous than Swift...

Who's the band? I'm curious.


The band is Carbon Leaf. They re-recorded the Vanguard Records releases Indian Summer (2004) as Indian Summer Revisited (2014), Love Loss Hope Repeat (2006) as Love Loss Hope Repeat Reneaux (2015), and Nothing Rhymes With Woman (2009) as Nothing Rhymes With Woman (2016).
posted by hippybear at 9:15 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


It's becoming clear that Taylor Swift is the kind of operator capable of putting together an intricate long term plan to destroy her enemies and then stick with it as long as it takes. She'll make a good harsh-but-benevolent warlord after the Collapse.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:37 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Thanks for reminding me of Carbon Leaf, hippybear! I heard "The Boxer" on DC101 in the early 00s and liked it, but that was before I was really a music-fan so it fell out of my brain until you mentioned it just now. I may have to look at this back catalog!

As for Swift, good on her! I am not particularly acquainted with the awful producer in question here, but, I am aware that awful producers (especially of young women) are a thing, and I'm all for sticking it to them. Agree that "how I'd write/arrange this now" would be really interesting to hear, but I know that's a different thing from what she's doing here.
posted by Alterscape at 11:55 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


If you're going to peak back at Carbon Leaf, I'd suggest starting with the rollicking Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle, which is exactly the album of celtic folk rock everyone needs all the time. But really I love their whole catalog.
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I think this is great. "Love Story" is such a fantastically catchy bit of storytelling, and rerecording it with more mature vocals adds an interesting layer to the song's wistfulness (swiftfulness? lol)

I listened to the recording and Spotify cycled me right onto 1989 afterwards, and damn I'd forgotten how fantastic that album is.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:08 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


there's something as bit off about the idea of rereleasing what are essentially covers of old songs as something to be purchased as an album for how it is akin to double dipping from your fan base

I'm sure Swift and other people who do this don't mind if their fans re-purchase the re-recorded versions of songs they already own, but I think the principle objective here is that from now on if someone wants to buy a Taylor Swift song (either for the first time or some other reason), they can buy it from Taylor Swift instead of from Scooter Braun.

Scooter Braun doesn't get any additional money that could have gone to Taylor Swift when I listen to CD I bought 10 years ago, but he gets a little bit of money that could have been hers if I choose to stream the version he owns, so she'd like for me to have the option to stream a version that belongs to her.
posted by straight at 3:53 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Highly recommend the Swift documentary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Americana from last year. I barely know her music but she's earned my respect as a person.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:41 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Another really good example of this is Namie Amuro, who on her final compilation while retiring after 26 years in the industry, re-recorded a huge amount of her songs as a big fuck you to her previous agency that wouldn't let her take access of her masters when she founded her own company.

WHY NAMIE AMURO RE-RECORDED SO MANY OF HER SONGS FOR 'FINALLY' AND RE-AFFIRMED HER TITLE AS THE TEFLON QUEEN

Spotify discography here (I still prefer her originals, the Wild/Dr. single and Past < Future album are amazing)
posted by yueliang at 9:57 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


The best thing about this will be if it's "historical" enough in the music culture for it to sink into the awareness of new musicians awareness when interaction with corporations.

I'm not a "song" format aficionado, the flow/theme/idea just up and ends when I'm warming up. What I wish she would do is write a full on opera. That format needs young blood.
posted by sammyo at 6:14 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Haven’t seen this talked about, but this also undercuts the current owners of the old masters from benefiting from the use of those versions of the songs in any more films, commercials, etc, since it seems very likely that Swift won’t grant the publishing rights that would allow someone to use those versions as long as she has versions to license in full.
posted by jimw at 1:11 PM on February 14 [3 favorites]


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