Taylor Swifts Talks About Fighting For Artists’ Rights
As you already know (or don’t) Taylor Swift is Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” and the multiple award-winning songstress sat down for an interview with the publication about why she has spoken up for artists.
The “You Need To Cam Down” crooner has no plans to calm down when it comes to speaking out and fighting against unfair payouts from streaming services or to raise awareness about terms of record deals, throughout the years.
The mega superstar told Billboard:
“New artists and producers and writers need work, and they need to be likable and get booked in sessions, and they can’t make noise — but if I can, then I’m going to. I know that it seems like I’m very loud about this, but it’s because someone has to be.”
The 29-year-old has been at the forefront of fighting for artists’ rights as between 2014 and 2017, she withheld her catalog from Spotify to protest the streaming company’s compensation rates for artists. Then in 2015, Swift wrote a letter criticizing Apple Music ahead of its launch for its plan to not pay royalties during listeners’ three-month free trial period. Within just 24 hours, the company announced a new policy.
More recently, Swift has been locked in a public feud with Scott Borchetta, the head of her former label, Big Machine Records, and Scooter Braun, the music manager whose Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group.
In June this year, Braun acquired her music catalog in a $300 million sale in June. Taking to Tumblr to express her frustration, Swift accused Braun of being a bully and said it was her “worst case scenario” that he was the one who now owned her masters.
Opening up to Billboard about her fight and struggle, she said:
“I think that we’re working off of an antiquated contractual system. We’re galloping toward a new industry but not thinking about recalibrating financial structures and compensation rates, taking care of producers and writers.”
“We need to think about how we handle master recordings, because this isn’t it,” she continued. “When I stood up and talked about this, I saw a lot of fans saying, ‘Wait, the creators of this work do not own their work, ever?’”
She also revealed to Billboard that she wasn’t given an opportunity to buy her masters outright.
“I spent 10 years of my life trying rigorously to purchase my masters outright and was then denied that opportunity, and I just don’t want that to happen to another artist if I can help it,” she said. “I want to at least raise my hand and say, ‘This is something that an artist should be able to earn back over the course of their deal — not as a renegotiation ploy — and something that artists should maybe have the first right of refusal to buy.’
“God, I would have paid so much for them!” she added. “Anything to own my work that was an actual sale option, but it wasn’t given to me.”
Swift went on to say that she’s thankful there’s “power in writing your music.”
“Every week, we get a dozen synch requests to use ‘Shake It Off‘ in some advertisement or ‘Blank Space‘ in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them,” she said. “And the reason I’m rerecording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it.”
Thanks to her outspokenness, Swift explains that new artists are reaching out to her for help:
“I’ve had several upheavals of somehow not being what I should be,” she said. “And this happens to women in music way more than men. That’s why I get so many phone calls from new artists out of the blue — like, ‘Hey, I’m getting my first wave of bad press, I’m freaking out, can I talk to you?’ And the answer is always yes! I’m talking about more than 20 people who have randomly reached out to me. I take it as a compliment because it means that they see what has happened over the course of my career, over and over again.”