Taylor Swift has done a lot in her career — sold 37.3 million albums, had 95 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 (including five No. 1s) and is the youngest artist to ever win the Grammy Award for album of the year — so it's no surprise she's Billboard's Artist of the Decade. But the 29-year-old superstar shared it wasn't all roses when she made the creative decision to switch genres from country to pop on her 2014 album 1989.
In an interview with Billboard, Swift called "crossing over to pop" a "completely different world." The topic came up when she was discussing how many up-and-coming artists have reached out to her through the years.
"I’ve had several upheavals of somehow not being what I should be. And this happens to women in music way more than men. That’s why I get so many phone calls from new artists out of the blue — like, 'Hey, I’m getting my first wave of bad press, I’m freaking out, can I talk to you?' And the answer is always yes!" Swift shared. "I’m talking about more than 20 people who have randomly reached out to me. I take it as a compliment because it means that they see what has happened over the course of my career, over and over again."
Swift said she didn't really have someone like that to lean on.
"Not really, because my career has existed in lots of different neighborhoods of music. I had so many mentors in country music," she shared. "Faith Hill was wonderful. She would reach out to me and invite me over and take me on tour, and I knew that I could talk to her. Crossing over to pop is a completely different world."
The "Lover" singer continued, "Country music is a real community, and in pop I didn’t see that community as much. Now there is a bit of one between the girls in pop — we all have each other’s numbers and text each other — but when I first started out in pop it was very much you versus you versus you. We didn’t have a network, which is weird because we can help each other through these moments when you just feel completely isolated."
Swift’s network likely includes pals Selena Gomez and Halsey, who have both supported her quest to own her master recordings. The Grammy-winning singer is fighting behind the scenes for artists rights, as evident in her highly publicized battle with Scott Borchetta, the head of her former label Big Machine Records, and Scooter Braun. She shed light on the inner workings of record deals as fans were shocked she didn't own the rights to her masters from her first six albums. (She released Lover after switching labels.)
"We have a long way to go. I think that we’re working off of an antiquated contractual system. We’re galloping toward a new industry but not thinking about recalibrating financial structures and compensation rates, taking care of producers and writers," she explained.
"We need to think about how we handle master recordings, because this isn’t it. When I stood up and talked about this, I saw a lot of fans saying, 'Wait, the creators of this work do not own their work, ever?' I spent 10 years of my life trying rigorously to purchase my masters outright and was then denied that opportunity, and I just don’t want that to happen to another artist if I can help it," Swift shared. "I want to at least raise my hand and say, 'This is something that an artist should be able to earn back over the course of their deal — not as a renegotiation ploy — and something that artists should maybe have the first right of refusal to buy.' God, I would have paid so much for them! Anything to own my work that was an actual sale option, but it wasn’t given to me."
Borchetta said Swift had the opportunity to acquire her masters in exchange for re-signing with the label for 10 years.
"Thankfully, there’s power in writing your music," Swift continued. "Every week, we get a dozen synch requests to use 'Shake It Off' in some advertisement or 'Blank Space' in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them. And the reason I’m rerecording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it."
Swift said she doesn't know how long the re-recording process will take, but she fully intends to do it.
"It’s going to be fun, because it’ll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what’s mine. When I created [these songs], I didn’t know what they would grow up to be," she explained. "Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music."
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