We’re not in Nashville anymore. Taylor Swift has officially left her Music Row roots behind, announcing that she’s departed Big Machine Records (her label since 2006) for Universal Music Group’s Republic Records. Swift’s contract with her old label (itself a UMG imprint) expired this month, making her a free agent on the market for multi-multi-multi-millions. It’s not known how much Swift actually raked in in the end, but she will now own her own masters going forward under the multi-year, multi-album agreement. But the key part of her new deal has less to do with Swift herself but the industry writ large. One stipulation of Swift’s contract states that if UMG sells any of its shares in Spotify, which went public in April, that money must be redistributed to the label’s artists and can’t be recouped; Swift says UMG “generously agreed” to those terms.
She reportedly prioritized that aspect of the deal instead of negotiating for ownership of her old masters or a bigger cash advance. In the past, Swift removed her music from Spotify over the service’s unfair compensation to songwriters. She also famously blacklisted Apple Music when it launched, writing a strongly worded open letter to the company over its failure to pay artists and songwriters during the trial period. Swift has since blessed both services with her music after they met her on her terms. Because never forget: This is Taylor’s music world, everyone else is just living in it.