Why is Taylor Swift re-recording her albums and which album will she re-record next?

The pop star is re-recording five of her old albums

Taylor Swift playing a guitar on stage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Her brand new album, Midnights, has topped the Official UK Albums Chart and has become the best-selling album of 2022 after just one week. But what fans really want to know is why is Taylor Swift re-recording her albums?

The last few months have shaped up to be a great time for music fans, with more tickets to Harry Styles' Love on Tour (opens in new tab) released, Michael Buble announcing UK dates (opens in new tab) for  2023, and tickets to Lewis Capaldi's UK tour (opens in new tab) selling out in a single second. And it looks like there's more to look forward to, as Grammy, Emmy and AMA award-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is also releasing new music.

She's just scored her 11th number one album following the release of Midnights - but that's not enough for Swifties, who are dying to know when she'll be releasing her next re-recorded album. Taylor's been re-recording her music since 2021, but many are confused why she's doing it and which albums she's re-releasing. Here's everything you need to know...

Why is Taylor Swift re-recording her albums?

Taylor Swift is re-recording her albums so that she will own their masters - which means the original recordings. She made the decision to re-record her albums after her former record label sold her back catalogue, leaving her with no control over how the songs are used.

By re-recording her albums, Taylor will own the songs and therefore be able to give permission for their use - for example in advertisements or in films. In an interview with Billboard (opens in new tab) in 2019, she explained: "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. 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."

She added: "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."

That same year, Taylor Swift released her album Lover, the first album she fully owns. Prior to this, the majority of Swift's work was released under a deal she signed with Big Machine Records when she was 15, which gave the company ownership of her first six albums.

In 2018, Taylor moved to Universal's Republic Records in a new deal that would allow her to own her masters going forward. However, this didn't apply to her old work.

Who is Scooter Braun and what happened between him and Taylor Swift?

Taylor Swift might have been happy to never own her old masters, if it wasn't for Big Machine selling the rights to music tycoon Scooter Braun, therefore giving him ownership of her previous work.

Scooter Braun manages artists including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande and founded Ithaca Holdings, which bought Big Machine Records and therefore Taylor's original recordings.

In a public statement, Taylor labelled Scooter Braun a "bully" and said he was  blocking her from performing a medley of her songs at the American Music Awards (AMAs) because it would constitute "re-recording them before I'm allowed to next year".

She said: "I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you'll be punished. This is WRONG."

In November 2020, Scooter Braun sold Taylor's masters to a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings.

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Can Taylor Swift legally re-record her albums?

Taylor Swift can legally re-record her albums because she writes her own songs, meaning she owns the publishing rights to them. This allows her to cover her own songs without having to do anything with the masters.

However, according to TMZ (opens in new tab), Big Machine Records has an original production clause that prohibits Taylor from making the re-recordings sound exactly like the original - that's why the songs she's re-recorded so far sound slightly different to the previous versions she's released.

In addition, Taylor's contract with Big Machine gave her the right to re-record her older songs beginning in November 2020.

Though Shamrock Holdings will still be able to profit from Taylor's old recordings, iHeartRADIO - one of the largest radio broadcasters in the United States - have pledged to only play the remakes.

Tom Poleman (opens in new tab), chief programming officer for iHeartMedia, said in a statement: "Whenever Taylor re-records a new track, we immediately replace the old versions. Our stations will always deliver songs that artists are eager to share and fans want to hear. Listeners have made it known that they cannot wait to hear ‘Taylor’s Version’ of each track. We are thrilled to provide a platform to share those with them, as well as the stories behind the songs from Taylor herself."

Which album is Taylor Swift re-recording next?

Taylor Swift hasn't confirmed which album she will be re-recording next, though many fans believe it will be her third studio album, Speak Now, which was released in 2010.

The rumours began after Taylor released the music video for her new song 'Bejeweled', which opened with a string version of 'Enchanted' and closed with a version of 'Long Live' - both of which are songs from the Speak Now album.

The music video was also released on Speak Now's 12th anniversary, October 25, and perhaps the biggest hint was the elevator button in the music video. The buttons are colour coded for each of Taylor's previous albums, and in the video she presses the purple button for the third floor - both the colour and number correspond to her Speak Now album.

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However, some fans suspects that it will be Reputation that's coming next, after Taylor turned up to the 2022 VMAs in a dress that looked a lot like the one she was wearing in the 'Look What You Made Me Do' music video - one of the songs from the 2017 album.

Music attorney Rachel Stilwell (opens in new tab) explained to Rolling Stone (opens in new tab) that many contracts won't allow re-recordings until "the later of two years following the expiration of the agreement or five years after the commercial release," which would mean that Taylor can't re-record Reputation until November 2022 - so fans may have to wait a bit longer to see the final version.

Which albums has Taylor Swift re-recorded so far?

So far, Taylor Swift has re-recorded Fearless and Red. Fearless was the first album she re-recorded, and she released Fearless (Taylor's Version) in April 2021 - 13 years after the original album was released. 

Fearless was Taylor's second studio album, leaving many fans wondering why it was the album she chose to re-release first, and not her debut, Taylor Swift. There have been several fan theories around this - with some believing the 13 years between the two is significant, because 13 is Taylor's lucky number. 

However, in an interview with Republic Records via Just Jared Jr (opens in new tab), Taylor explained: "I always gravitated towards Fearless because I think that, as an album, it was a real coming-of-age. I look back on that album and it fills me with such pride, and it was an album about hope, and lessons learned, and the effervescence of teenage youth and all that. What more fun than to go back and explore that?"

While she added that she tried to keep the new version as close to the original as possible, she also added six new songs that were left off the 2008 version. 

Meanwhile, the second album she re-recorded, Red (Taylor's Version), includes a ten minute long version of fan favourite 'All Too Well', accompanied by a music video featuring Sadie Sink and Dylan O'Brien, which is widely believed to be about the singer's relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Red (Taylor's Version) was released in November 2021, just over nine years after the original album.

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