I’ve been a closet Swiftie for so many years, only including her songs in my stories when I was young. Of course, I had no knowledge of copyright issues before, but do not worry as editors recommend omitting them upon publishing.
Anyway, I experienced being at a time where people judge interests. I remember, in high school and college, fangirling on K-pop, listening to One Direction and Taylor Swift songs, and watching telenovelas are considered jologs, with people labeling you a bandwagoner or, worse, someone “without taste.” It was only during the release of Reputation that I was able to be open about being a Swiftie, probably because those who were judgmental of my interests, as well as I, are now mature adults who understand that to each their own.
So now Taylor is in a situation where her previous label owner Big Machine Records under its CEO Scott Borchetta just sold her songs to Scooter Braun, talent manager of Kanye West (who, as we all know, had a gap with Taylor Swift), making Braun the owner of her masters.
A master license gives the license holder the right to use a recorded piece of music in a media project such a film, TV show, commercial, or another visual creation or audio project. A master license is obtained from the person who owns the recording, which is the party that financed the recording. Usually, these rights reside with the record label if not the independent artist.
—Heather Mcdonald, “Master License for Music Recordings” (2019)
With this being cleared, I think Taylor Swift—the legend who shook music-streaming companies to change their policies—knows all too well that upon leaving her previous label owner, she leaves her masters in her six albums to Big Machine. (By the way, for all those saying, “She’s a millionaire already, what is she still after?” these are her rights as an artist. She was speaking as an artist, maybe on behalf of the artists with voices that big companies wouldn’t dare to hear.)
Imagine not being able to sing her own songs on her tours because she needs the permission of somebody else, whereas “for years [she has] asked, pleaded for a chance to own [her] work.”
I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.
—Taylor Swift, Tumblr
So basically, she knew what she was up to. So what’s up with the hashtag?
To me, it’s not just about Scott selling Taylor Swift’s masters to Scooter but also about letting the world know that artists experience these problems when it comes to the rights of their works. And in Taylor Swift’s words, “‘Cause when you’re fifteen [and] somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.” Yes, it may not be an excuse, and again, in her words:
This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value,’ he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.
Again, she knows the consequences, but it doesn’t mean she has to accept this mockery, that is, her music being sold to a person who has bullied her in the past. Probably, Scott only cares about business. (Like, you go to work and sign a contract, but you still get to whine about how unfair it is if they wanted you to work that deadline yet you wouldn’t get paid for overtime. What’s the difference with Taylor Swift?)
It is me as a Swiftie unaccepting of this contempt. It is me as a Swiftie making this ultimate sacrifice to remove her songs in my Spotify playlists, songs that I grew up with and have been an inspiration in my day-to-day life, just so Scooter Braun cannot profit from her songs. Maybe the only positive thing from this was learning that other artists—such as Cara Delevingne, Katy Perry, Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Keala Sette, and many, many more—got her back.
So even though this is hard for me, I’ll do this for you, Taylor. I know some of your fans have done it as well. We’ll be supporting you all the way, streaming “Me!” and “You Need to Calm Down” repeatedly.
Jeez, I love you so much.