Taylor Swift isn’t having a great summer, and it’s not because her hair stylist mixed up the order of the rainbow when dipping her tips. Taylor is really mad that Scooter Braun bought her former record label Big Machine for $300 million, and subsequently became the owner of 6 albums worth of the masters of her songs. Taylor can’t really sue, so her own line of defense so far has been to not-subtly direct some song lyrics at Scooter and Big Machine’s former owner Scott Borchetta. Kelly Clarkson seems to think she might have a solution that would work, and it involves pettiness and a recording studio.
Variety says that Kelly chimed in to the Taylor vs. Scooter feud on Twitter this weekend. Kelly, who knows a thing or two about fighting with a record label over songs, thinks the trick is to re-record all the songs and put them out with a minor tweak, like different album art.
@taylorswift13 just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point 💁🏼♀️
— Kelly Clarkson (@kellyclarkson) July 13, 2019
Variety points out that Def Leppard have pulled such a stunt before. Def Leppard felt like they were getting screwed over in digital sales by their label, Universal Music. They refused to let Universal use their music for anything but physical products, and then started re-releasing new recordings of old songs just to spite Universal (an addendum was later added to their contract to state they could control how their music was used). However, Variety says that Taylor might not be able to do that. They point out that some contracts will stipulate that the artist can’t release re-records until a certain number of years after their contract expires.
And it’s also important to note that Taylor gets paid either way. Scooter Braun and Big Machine own the master recordings of her songs. Taylor still maintains an iron grip on the copyrights to the music and lyrics, like when she got into a messy lawsuit battle over the lyrics to Shake It Off. Forbes named Taylor the highest-paid celebrity of 2019 (at $185 million).
Kelly’s advice might have been a little short sighted and possibly wrong in the eyes of a contract lawyer, but I think I see how Taylor could get around it. We’ve all heard Taylor’s songs 1,437,204 times. But what we haven’t heard is Taylor release legally-protected-under-fair-use-laws parody albums. She obviously doesn’t need to do it for the money; it’s about sending a message. She should channel her inner Weird Al Yankovic and drop six albums worth of novelty songs simply out of spite. Then again, I might be the only one who wants to hear a spiritual sequel to The Monster Mash called Look What You Made Me Boo.