Belmont Vision – Music Business Professors Discuss Ethics, Law and Taylor Swift


Few people listen to their favorite song again for the first time, but Taylor Swift’s decision to re-record her early albums gives fans that rare opportunity.

The Student Center for Public Trust in Belmont hosted the WELL Core “Ethics, Law and Taylor Swift” event on Thursday. A three-person panel addressed the ethics and controversy of Swift’s creative independence.

Mary Lauren Teague, Assistant Professor of Music Business and Entertainment Advocate, Mark Thress, Assistant Professor at the School of Music, and Sheriden Gates, Publisher and Music Director, all shared their views on the author- legendary composer and the phases of her career.

Kicking off the event with a screening of Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film”, students entered a state of grace as they discussed Swift and her re-recordings – Belmont’s wildest dream. Swiftie.

“Whether you agree with the way she went about it or not, I think it was great that she shed some light on making sure you read your contracts, own your masters, all of which a lot of artists aren’t aware of until she does it,” Gates said.

Swift was aware that the Big Machine Records deal she signed as a minor in 2005 granted the label original recordings of her music in exchange for a plethora of resources.

But the bad blood started in June 2019 when Swift was denied the chance to buy her master recordings after they went on sale following the end of her contract.

It was later announced that music manager and entrepreneur Scooter Braun had “bullied” Swift, the artist said. He bought Big Machine Records and with it, the masters of his first six studio albums.

It was then that she decided to regain control of her art as soon as her contract allowed her to do so.

Traditional recording contracts typically require some sort of ownership swap, and many also have re-recording restrictions, Teague said.

But what makes Swift different is that she’s one of the few artists to have re-recorded their masters, along with other artists like Def Leppard and The Everly Brothers.

“If she puts out masters that she’s re-recorded and puts them out as ‘Taylor’s Version’ and they sound very close to previous masters, ultimately what it’s going to do is take money out of the pockets of people who own his old masters,” Teague said.

By shifting her fans’ attention to the re-recordings, she showed Music Row who was really in charge.

“She commands her career in the direction it’s going,” Teague said. “Take ownership. Get behind the wheel… Take the time to read your contracts.

“Don’t think you have to have a law degree to figure it out.”

PHOTO: From left, Grace Glass junior from the Student Center for Public Trust at Belmont, Mary Lauren Teague, Mark Thress and Sheriden Gates at Thursday’s WELL Core. Emma Halloran/Belmont Vision

This article was written by Emma Halloran and Kailee Doherty.


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