Gender inequality is real in the music industry: Taylor Swift can’t re-record or use her old songs

As a 20-year-old music fan living in Canada, I have been listening to Taylor Swift for as long as I can remember.

When I was younger, she was an idol, and I still love her and her music. From “Our Song” to “Lover,” her songs just keep getting better. I have to admit that there’s something about her old songs that hits me differently – perhaps because of my sentimental ties to the memories of these older songs.

On Nov. 14, Swift tweeted about how Scott Borchetta, founder and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, and Scooter Braun, the company’s new owner, wouldn’t let her perform at the American Music Awards (AMAs), where she’d be honoured with the Artist of the Decade Award.

Ironically, as soon as she expressed concern about the restriction, Big Machine Label Group released a statement saying artists can perform their music live without the label’s permission. They granted “all licences of their artists performances to stream post-show and for rebroadcast on mutually approved platforms.” However, they still won’t let the artists re-record or use them. This statement was obviously directed at Swift.

When Braun purchased Big Machine Label Group, he became the owner of Swift’s first six albums. According to Swift, Borchetta never gave her the opportunity to buy her music before selling the label, even though it is suspected he did with other artists. Braun owning Swift’s music means he legally controls it, which is why he’s allowed to tell her what she can and can’t do with it.

Essentially, two men who didn’t write, sing or collaborate on her songs wouldn’t let her perform them or use them in a documentary she is filming with Netflix. It is evident that this is all an attempt at controlling Swift in order to make more money off of her and her work.

This issue speaks to a wider systemic issue of women’s rights in music. Swift is a successful and well-respected artist, but it seems like it’s never enough. This has happened to many other amazing women in the music industry. Demi Lovato has been body-shamed countless times by fans, media, and other celebrities. According to MSN, Lady Gaga was also judged because of her looks and fashion sense and felt she was never enough. Miley Cyrus was also judged after the split with Liam Hemsworth. This confirms that there is still a long way to go for gender equality.

However, according to Vox, Swift will be re-recording all of her old songs starting in November 2020, when her contract with Big Machine Label Group legally allows her to.

But what about her Netflix documentary? Borchetta and Braun won’t let her use any of her old recorded songs. What would a Taylor Swift documentary even be without “Mine” or “I Knew You Were Trouble?”

In the meantime, show Swift some support by using #IStandWithTaylor on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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