Never underestimate Taylor Swift.
The 31-year-old pop star will once again make headlines this week with the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, a recently recorded cover of the hit album that shot her to stardom. The draft is the culmination of a multi-year battle in which Swift claims she was “stripped of [her] life’s work, ”when his former label, Big Machine, along with the main recordings of his first six albums, were sold to a powerful music director (and Swift’s nemesis), Scooter Braun.
“This process was more fulfilling and emotional than I could have imagined and made me even more determined to re-record all of my music”, Swift said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Swift’s new album is more than a shrewd business move. It’s a signal to artists and content creators all over the world of a major shift in the balance of power.
And at the center of the story is a brilliant lesson in emotional intelligence.
Why did Taylor decide to re-record her old albums in the first place?
The answer is complex. (The The New York Times has an excellent summary which you can read here.)
The short version goes like this:
In 2019, Braun purchased the Big Machine Label Group, the music label that signed Swift as a teenager on her first recording deal and then acquired ownership of the master recordings of her first six albums. Swift quickly went public to describe the sale as her “worst case scenario,” as she told stories of how Braun and her client Kanye West bullied her over the years.
Swift didn’t pout for long, however. She quickly hatched a plan to regain control of her music by recording new masters from her old albums – starting with Fearless. In doing so, Swift would now have new versions of the songs that fans loved. She could then encourage those fans to stream or buy those new versions instead of the old ones.
But there is another important piece of the puzzle. While Swift does not own the masters of these early albums, she does own the publishing rights or copyright for the composition (musical arrangement and lyrics) of the songs – in many cases because she has writes the songs herself.
This is important because as the owner of the publishing rights, Swift can veto the use of their (original) songs when it is for commercial use, such as in movies, TV shows. , ads, and pretty much anything else – in fact, that requires anyone who wants to license their music to use the new versions they own.
In other words, by deciding to record new masters of her older albums, Swift potentially devalues the original assets and takes control of her art.
But that’s not all. In addition to recording new versions of all songs from the original “Fearless” album, Swift added six unreleased songs. Swift describes them as songs that she “absolutely adored, but that were picked for different reasons – not wanting too many breakup songs, not wanting too many slow tempo songs, can’t have that many songs on one. Physical CD. “
“Artists should own their own work for many reasons, but the most obvious is that the artist is the only one who really knows this set of works. “
This new album is the director’s cut from Fearless. And Taylor Swift is the director.
Swift’s bold move has the potential to dramatically change the landscape of the music industry, and beyond. On the one hand, if it is successful, it could prompt record companies to attempt to revise their standard contracts – perhaps requiring a longer period before artists can re-record songs or impose other restrictions.
On the other hand, the world is a different place than where Swift signed her first record deal. With the rise of YouTube and social media, it’s easier than ever for artists to gain audiences and monetize their work. Indeed, any musician with an audience already starts with a significant leverage effect.
By setting a new standard, Swift is sending a signal to artists across all industries – that they don’t need to give up control of their work to reach large audiences.
But there is an even more important lesson at stake here.
What does emotional intelligence have to do with it?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage emotions in order to achieve a goal. I like to describe it as the ability to make emotions work for you, rather than against you.
As a brilliant performer and songwriter, Swift has a gift: she is able to channel her feelings through her music, to reach others on an emotional level.
But Swift’s talent goes way beyond that – she’s built one of the greatest fan bases of all time by combining her musical genius with the ability to stay authentic, relatable.
The Swifties don’t see their hero as untouchable. It’s quite the opposite; they see her as one of them. She’s the girl next door, the best friend. And even now, after becoming a global superstar, Swift continues to reinforce that image when she surprises fans with private listening evenings or graduation cards in the mail.
With “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”, Swift harnesses all of her emotional intelligence: years of practice honing her abilities to come into contact with her own emotions, and years of trust built up with fans as she touched their emotions.
By taking control of its music, Swift is teaching a major lesson to artists, content creators, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs of all types. If you are having a seemingly insurmountable problem, there are only two ways to deal with it.
- basking in negative emotions, feeling sorry for yourself; or,
- use these feelings as a catalyst, as a motivation to take action.
Only one of these actions leads to success.
So the next time you seem to be losing control of a situation, do what Taylor is doing.
Instead of dwelling on what you can’t change, focus on what you can.
And transform “emotional” into emotionally intelligent.
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