Support artists who own their work

By Siegrid Massie | LTVN Anchor/Reporter

What if you poured your heart and soul into a project that you spent days, weeks, months or even years on? What if you took the time to create something out of a passion that you hope could stand the test of time? What if others got to see what you created and loved? What if, after all that time and energy, you were told you never owned it in the first place? This is exactly what artists like The Beatles, Prince and Lil’ Kim were told.

Over the last few weeks, the entertainment industry has been buzzing, with artists like Adele, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran releasing brand new original albums. However, one artist released a new — but not original — album. Taylor Swift’s “Red (Taylor’s Version)” has rocked the music industry, holding 18 songs in the top 150 nationally on Spotify Charts.

The album is a re-recorded version of her 2012 album, “Red,” in an attempt to reclaim the rights to the music she produced almost a decade ago. The masters of her first six studio albums (i.e. the original recordings) were previously owned by Big Machine Records. After fighting and negotiating attempts, Swift was ultimately unable to purchase the rights to her own music, and Big Machine Records subsequently sold her albums’ masters to an independent holdings company. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the second album — the first being “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” — in the last year that Swift has recorded in an attempt to reclaim the art she mostly sang and performed herself.

This brings us to why it matters to listen. For artists who pour their life and soul into their creations — many of which draw from personal experience — owning their work is an important part of their experience. It gives them control over when it’s used, how it’s altered and who gets to use it. Being able to control the thing you love and produced is an essential part of the creative process. For artists to do that, they have to have support from their audience by choosing to listen to the music that they own rather than the original versions. This sends a clear message to other artists, record companies and the rest of the industry that musicians should have power and ownership over their work.

Swift is not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to go head-to-head with a record label over ownership problems. She is the most recent in a long line of artists who have fought for the rights of their creations. Without the help of their audience, these artists have limited control to take back power over their creations.