Taylor Swift’s first full album of rereleased vintage classics — Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has arrived.
After declaring that she would rerecord the masters for all of her pre-Lover music, Swift dropped her first rerecorded single, “Love Story,” on February 12. The April 9 rerelease of 2008’s Fearless now marks the first significant step forward in the plans Swift announced in 2019, after the news broke that her old record label — Big Machine Records, which she left in 2018 — had been sold to music megamanager Scooter Braun. The sale gave Braun the rights to all the master recordings for Swift’s old music, meaning that anyone who wanted to license one of Swift’s old songs to play in a TV show or movie or an ad would have to ask for Braun’s permission and pay him a licensing fee. And given that Braun used to work with sworn Taylor Swift enemy Kanye West, Swift was devastated. In an emotional Tumblr post, she called the news “my worst case scenario.”
Not long afterward, in an interview with CBS’s Tracy Smith, Swift said that she planned to sidestep Braun by rerecording everything in the songbook that he now owns, meaning all the songs she had released prior to her August 2019 album Lover.
When Swift switched over to Republic Records in the fall of 2018, she negotiated to own the master rights to all the music she creates going forward. So by rerecording her old songbook with Republic Records, she will own the copyright to all of the new recordings. The move would give licensers the option to work directly with Swift and her team rather than go through Braun. And that, in turn, would allow Swift to reclaim some command over her music and how it’s used.
While rerecording her old masters, Swift has been keeping busy throughout the pandemic. In 2020, she surprise-dropped two new albums: July’s Folklore and December’s Evermore. And now she has all of Fearless — which includes some of her biggest early hits, like “You Belong With Me” — back out in the world on her own terms.