It feels like just yesterday that the young 15-year-old country singer signed to the Nashville-based Big Machine Records. Well, world, ICYMI Taylor Swift is all grown up now and, 13 years and 6 albums later, the artist has officially flown the nest. "It's so thrilling to me that they, and the UMG team, will be my label family moving forward," Swift announced of her brand new joint deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group.
Indeed, the artist has a lot to celebrate. Though the complete terms of the contract have yet to be released, a vital clause is sure to make a change not only in her career but in the music industry as a whole: Any sale of UMG's shares in newly-public Spotify must result in a non-recoupable payout to the label's artists.
Swift's new contract comes in light of years of championing for artists' rights in the face of on-demand music streaming platforms. As positively disruptive as these new technologies have been to independent artists, to us the consumers and to the record labels who are still finding ways to maintain their position in the industry's value chain, it is no secret that artists have not always been given full compensation for their efforts. While there's still a long way to go, Swift's contract repositions artists where they belong (i.e. at the heart of label-platform deals and, more generally, at the heard of the music business).
In Taylor Swift's own words: "It's really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry [...] I feel strongly that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers and producers."