While Taylor Swift has been racking up billions of streams with updated “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings of her original hits over the past couple years, making cultural moments out of old material and simultaneously driving down the value of those original recordings that were sold away from her, record companies have been working to prohibit this sort of thing from happening again.
The major labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, have recently overhauled contracts for new signees, according to top music attorneys, some demanding artists wait an unprecedented 10, 15 or even 30 years to re-record releases after departing their record companies. “The first time I saw it, I tried to get rid of it entirely,” says Josh Karp, a veteran attorney, who has viewed the new restrictions in UMG contracts. “I was just like, ‘What is this? This is strange. Why would we agree to further restrictions than we’ve agreed to in the past with the same label?’”