Taylor Swift instantly broke two Spotify records upon Friday's release of "Red (Taylor's Version)."
The rerecorded album is the latest move in Swift's battle over the rights to her earlier music.
Its success highlights the industry's shifting power dynamics, impacting small artists and big labels alike.
"Red (Taylor's Version)" broke Spotify's record for the most-streamed album in a day by a female artist on Friday, the day it was released.
The album's success propelled Swift to break a second Spotify record as the most-streamed female in a single day. Her music totaled over 122.9 million streams on Friday, approximately three-quarters of which came from "Red (Taylor's Version)."
Nearly identical to Swift's 2012 "Red," the rerecorded album marks the artist's latest move to regain control over her life's work after the sale of her master recordings.
Swift began rerecording songs last year after her early catalog was sold twice without her consent: first to celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun and then to Shamrock Capital Advisors in Los Angeles. Over the span of four days, "Red (Taylor's Version)" has successfully overpowered the original album on both streaming services and social media.
"I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefiting Scooter," Swift wrote to the investment firm last October about her decision to rerecord.
In most traditional record deals, artists don't retain the rights to the recordings in exchange for an advance payment. This was the case for Swift's first label deal with Big Machine, which was later acquired by Braun.
Then in 2018, Swift signed a contract with Universal Music Group that has allowed her to own the master recording of any music produced since — a negotiation that is rare to come by, especially among smaller artists.
"By owning your master recordings, you keep creative control and you're free to release your music however you want via whichever channels you choose," Paul Hitchman, President of AWAL, a British music distribution company owned by Sony Music Entertainment, explained.
The massive success of the "Taylor's Version" rerecordings is a testament to the impact streaming has had on power dynamics that have historically defined the music industry.
"If Swift — who is, without exaggeration, one of the biggest powerhouse pop stars of an entire generation — can't get her own masters back, who could? Turns out, almost nobody," Meredith Rose, senior policy counsel at Public Knowledge, wrote in an American Bar Association blog post.
The "Taylor's Version" era is already sending shockwaves throughout the industry. Universal, the largest record label in the world, has in recent contracts reportedly doubled the time it bars artists from re-recording their music, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
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