Taylor Swift has announced that she has signed a new record deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group, her first label change since signing with Big Machine Records at the age of 15. Swift’s deal with the Nashville-based, Universal Music Group-distributed independent label expired this month.
Swift made the announcement in an Instagram post that featured a photo of her with UMG Chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge and Republic Records co-founder and CEO Monte Lipman at the lead of a set. “Over the years, Sir Lucian Grainge and Monte Lipman have been such incredible partners,” she wrote, noting that she is still part of Universal Music Group. “It’s so thrilling to me that they, and the UMG team, will be my label family moving forward.” Terms of the deal were not immediately announced.
Swift unveiled two important elements of the new deal: the first of which will be ownership of her masters going forward. Big Machine has ownership of her first six albums, and there is no further details on whether or not that element of the contract had been negotiated following her exit.
She also revealed that as part of her UMG deal, she has asked the company to ensure that any sale of UMG’s shares in music-streaming company Spotify — which went public earlier on the New York Stock Exchange this year — result in equity for UMG’s artists. In years previous, Swift has been a vocal champion of artists’ rights, engaging in a public war with Apple Music over artist payouts when that service first launched. “I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artist, non-recoupable,” she wrote. “They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by other major labels.”
She ended her note with a “heartfelt thanks” to Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta, who had signed her as a teenager. “I’m extremely grateful to get to do what I love, especially with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.”
This month marked the first time in 13 years that Swift has been a free agent. She had become the biggest artist on the country-focused label, which also features Rascal Flatts and Reba McEntire.
Swift’s announcement of a multi-year contract with Universal comes after months of intensifying industry speculation about her future after her contract was up; rumors included a direct distribution deal with Spotify as well as various types of deals with all the major labels. By the end of October, industry sources said the bidding for a potential sale of the whole Big Machine company had risen to well over $300 million, with Universal the only major record company left in the race.
Swift released six albums with Big Machine and has sold over 32 million album domestically and 40 worldwide. In its first week alone, 2017’s Reputation sold 2 million copies worldwide. While on tour this year in support of Reputation, each show has grossed upwards of $9 million. She has two more shows left on the tour, both to take place in Tokyo this week.
Read Taylor Swift’s full letter below:
I’m ecstatic to announce that my musical home will be Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Over the years, Sir Lucian Grainge and Monte Lipman have been such incredible partners. It’s so thrilling to me that they, and the UMG team, will be my label family moving forward. It’s also incredibly exciting to know that I own all of my master recordings that I make from now on. It’s really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry. 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.
There was one condition that meant more to me than any other deal point. As part of my new contract with Universal Music Group, I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artist, non-recoupable. They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms and paid out previously by other major labels. I see this is a sign that we are headed toward positive change for creators – a goal I’m never going to stop trying to help achieve, inwhatever ways I can. I’m so happy to have Sir Lucian Grainge as a partner in these efforts.
I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Scott Borchetta for believing in me as a 14-year-old and for guiding me through over a decade of work that I will always be so proud of. I’m extremely grateful to get to do what I love, especially with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. The best thing I’ve been lucky enough to receive is the dedication, trust, and loyalty of the fans who have cared about the words and melodies I’ve written. My biggest goal moving forward is to make you proud. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to show you what I’m making next.