Those who are fans of pop music are likely familiar with some of the drama surrounding Taylor Swift and her former record label Big Machine Label Group. Even those who do not pay much attention to pop culture may have simply heard about the ongoing problems between Taylor and the label because it seems to invade just about every space on the web. However, it is an interesting case and one that has a lot of facets to it, as well as a lot of myths that have already developed.
Swift recently said that Big Machine Label Group would no longer allow her to perform a medley of her old songs at the American Music Awards and that she would not be able to use them in a documentary that is being made for Netflix. When she announced this her fans were understandably upset, as she has been going through troubles with the label for a while.
However, it made many people ask whether there was any legal right for the company to stop Swift from performing her songs. This is where things start to get tricky, though. Even though people are able to perform their music wherever they might want, most of the standard recording contracts say that those performances can’t be recorded or played later unless there is written permission.
The record label said that Swift’s statement was incorrect and that they did not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere. Still, there are many gray areas as to what is and is not allowed, especially with all of the new types of technology that are being used today. For example, even though she might be able to play the music, the AMAs would not be able to record the performance for rebroadcast on TV or online without permission. Yet, people at home have the technology to record the performance and then upload it to places like YouTube. While it would likely be taken down from YT for copyright violation, fully stifling content today seems to be a difficult battle.
However, it gets even stranger. Since the recordings for the AMAs and Netflix could technically be considered re-recordings, they could be aired later due to re-recording clauses that are typical in recording contracts. Others say that putting the songs into a video format is the problem.
Shortly after the announcement from Swift, Big Machine Label Group said that they were going to “grant all licenses of their artists to stream post-show and for rebroadcast on mutually approved platforms.”
Swift has gone on record as saying that she feels that the record label is taking advantage of her as a woman in the field. Even though she might have a lot of power and recognition now, it is important to keep in mind that this was not always the case. The exact details of her record deals are not public, but there is a chance that when she was quite young, she signed away more of her rights than she should have.
What Actually Happened at the AMAs? Did She Perform Her Old Songs?
Those who watched the recent American Music Awards will have seen that not only did Taylor win all of the categories in which she was nominated, but she also did perform a medley of her hits from the last decade. There are likely to be more ongoing battled between Swift and her old music label, and there are even rumors that she will rerecord all of her old music and release it again on her own.
It’s unknown exactly how everything will shake out with the rights deals for her old music, but her fans were at least happy that they were able to see here perform those songs at the AMAs.