Taylor Swift signs record deal with Universal Music

Taylor Swift will own her master recordings under the contract with Universal.
Taylor Swift will own her master recordings under the contract with Universal.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • After more than 12 years, six albums and 10 Grammy Awards as the star of the Nashville-based Big Machine Records, Taylor Swift has a new label.

The singer - who became a free agent this month, a year after the release of her latest album Reputation - announced on Instagram earlier this week that she had signed a multi-year, multi-album agreement with Universal Music Group and its subsidiary, Republic Records.

As part of the deal, Swift, 28, will own her master recordings moving forward, she said.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In photos of a typed note posted to her personal account - a rare, public-facing moment of music business messaging from a star of her stature - Swift added that she had negotiated with digital streaming in mind.

The singer said she and Universal agreed that if the company sells any of its equity in Spotify, which went public earlier this year, the money would be distributed to artists. "It's really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry," Swift said in her statement.

"I feel so motivated by new opportunities created by the streaming world and the ever-changing landscape of our industry. I also feel strongly that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers and producers."

With more than 30 million records sold in the United States, Swift is one of the few artists with the sway to move the industry's major players towards her.

In 2015, just as streaming was taking off, Swift publicly criticised Apple when it said it would not pay royalties during three-month trial memberships for its new music streaming service; less than 24 hours later, Apple changed course.

Swift has also sparred publicly with Spotify, removing her catalogue from the service for what she said was unfair compensation. Her music returned last year, after Spotify agreed to restrict some music to its paid tier, which pays higher royalties.

Swift also teased new music. "I'm so excited," she wrote at the end of her note (signing off "love, Taylor"). "I can't wait to show you what I'm making next."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'Taylor Swift signs record deal with Universal Music'. Subscribe