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The Clash Between Recording Labels And Singers – Who Has A Greater Right?

Posted: May 13, 2021

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Why are women who publicly speak out against what they feel is unjust painted as ‘attention-seeking’? Why are they treated with hostility?

It was in 2019 that Taylor Swift publicly wrote a letter to all her fans about how her songs prior to the Lover album were all copyrighted to her previous  recording label. Problems arose when the recording label got sold to Scooter Braun, with whom Taylor has had problems with.  It was then that I realised that the common misconception we have about how singers own their music is actually not true.

A huge percentage of the song royalty goes to the recording label and the artist is left with the remaining. Recording labels sign the artist, give them lot of exposure, handle marketing, promotions, bring them good music directors – they provide lot of help to the artist. But then they also actually own the copyright to the songs the artist writes, produces and thinks of.

When you think about this, don’t you feel that the artist should have sole credit? However, this is not the case with most major singers.

You may have heard of Lata Mangeshkar’s fight regarding royalties. She fought hard to gain royalties of her songs and is the only singer to do so from her era. She only sang for directors who provided her with royalty. She was boycotted by many and was said to be too headstrong but she fought for her own rights and won.

Recently Sonu Nigam’s allegations regarding presence of recording label music mafias also surfaced. I don’t know how much of this is true but  singers do face lot of problems and clashes if they don’t follow the label’s instructions. It has been noted that certain recording labels dictate terms to the singers and require them to sing only in a particular genre and not explore other things. Some can also ask them to cause a scandal or stage a fake love story which can increase album sales. As is often said, any type of publicity is good publicity. There can be a lot of creative differences and the artists can be coerced to do a lot of things they don’t want to because the recording labels have the upper hand in contracts.

Taylor Swift wrote that her old recording label wasn’t allowing her to use her old songs for her documentary and her upcoming AMA award performance. Later on however he did perform them. Naturally as it always happens when a woman raises her voice, people questioned her. They blamed her for all the noise she generated and labeled it as a stunt to gain attention. I don’t understand why women are unnecessarily subjected to these baseless allegation. But she stood strong, with full support of her fans.

Someone suggested that she re-record her old songs. Most singers don’t re-record or remaster their old songs because they already exist. Also, why would someone want to listen to them again? But because her new recording deal lets her have full copyright of her songs, she bravely decided to go ahead with the re-recording. On the 12th of February 2021, she released her re-recorded version of Love Story from her album Fearless, which she had recorded when she was around 16 years old. She also released unreleased old songs which didn’t make the cut in the original album.

Love Story was the first song I ever listened to of hers and I fell in love with her narrative writing in her music. After listening to the new version it felt as though I had come full circle.  I have grown up with Taylor Swift and I am really proud of what she is doing.

If you have been a die-hard Swiftie or have always wonder why everyone keeps talking about Taylor Swift, check out Taylor’s version of Love Story and support her work. You can also check out her self-produced and owned albums – Lover, Folklore and Evermore  – for her amazing narrative writing.

Image Source- Unsplash

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Pouring my thoughts through words on women mental health, social issues, lifestyle and pop culture.

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