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Feminism (Taylor’s Version): How Taylor Swift is Revolutionising the Music Industry


In case you do not live under a rock, there is a good chance you have heard of Taylor Swift and a better chance that you have listened to at least one of her songs. Love her or hate her, she has made waves in the music industry over the past two decades, branching out and succeeding in multiple genres. If you search the song ‘Love Story’ on Spotify, you will find two versions of what seems like the same song, except one of them says ‘Taylor’s Version.’


What is ‘Taylor’s Version’, and why did Taylor Swift decide to re-record albums and songs that topped the charts and won her countless accolades in their time? The answer is simple: she did it for ownership. The albums and songs might have her name next to them, but every single one of her songs was owned by her record label, which meant that they had control over how her songs were used. Her former label, Big Machine Records, constantly denied her the right to buy her masters from them and sold them to Ithaca Holdings, owned by music manager Scooter Braun (a name closely associated with Justin Bieber). He then sold her masters to another company, Shamrock Holdings, in 2019. It was considered an extremely shocking move, considering Braun has publicly bullied and ridiculed Swift. Every time you play a Taylor Swift song from her first few albums, money goes into Braun’s account. Thus, Taylor Swift decided to re-record all six albums so she could own them and control how they were used.



This here seems like a conflict of power and control. Still, the way that the gendered dynamics played out throughout this struggle shines a more profound light on how institutions such as media industries are structured to favor men. Swift has often talked about how women in the industry are seen as puppets to be controlled, from political views to physical images and, as it seems, even artistic autonomy. But how does feminism play into this? If we break it down, this was a case of two men using legal procedures to exploit a young woman’s work and strip her of autonomy. Braun’s legal team also pressed Swift to sign an NDA that would prevent her from discussing him negatively, which Swift’s legal team described as silencing “an assault accuser by paying them off.” Instead of opting for the easy way out, Swift decided to risk it all and re-record all six albums, believing they would do well commercially.


Taylor Swift’s song ‘The Man’ voices her frustrations about being a successful woman in a male-dominated industry pretty well, and it is a song worth listening to. Having been scrutinized from the age of 19, constantly attacked by the press, and being shamed for ‘writing songs about the multiple men she dates,’ reclaiming her music is also a way of reclaiming herself.





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You've excellently explored the patriarchal dimension of the music industry in the global north. Interestingly, how Swift chooses to subvert the industry and set the standard for women like her is another interesting aspect that needs to be recognized. We talked about Swift's representation within the context of reclaiming power over her music but interestingly, her being recognized as women of the year by "Billboard" soon afterward reveals how she helps realize an alternative for women like her who struggle in the patriarchy and may be facing discrimination on multiple other fronts too as comments above have highlighted. More importantly, Swift's actions are about taking ownership, and female artist soon like her will.


For me, however this seems largely…

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24020242
24020242
Dec 09, 2022

I think Taylor Swift represents a very complex look into the ways in which we understand how class, gender and race all intersect when it comes to how female musicians in the industry are positioned. Do we negate Taylor's experiences of being exploited, simply because she is a rich, white woman with privileges that are inaccessible to most? Can we have space to acknowledge that Taylor Swift can be both, the exploited and the exploiter? While The Man is an important song that details Swift's experiences of being a woman in an industry that rewards men more than women, I think it is also important to note that Swift has, for a good portion of her career, also benefitted from…

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Iman Ahmad
Iman Ahmad
Dec 08, 2022

I love Taylor Swift but I actually want to challenge the conception of labeling her a feminist in the music industry. This is because in recent times, many authors like Rosalind Gill have been criticizing feminism for being a discourse that has been dominated by a very "white" "middle-class" narrative for far too long, that juxtaposes white ideals of expression against the "other" (women of color). Now, this is not to say that Taylor Swift, as a white woman cannot be a "feminist" but she is literally the archetype for the quintessential "American Girl Next Door" that men fawn over. Aka, the red lips, conventionally attractive thin body, the innocence she portrayed earlier in her career, her "good" girl Christian…


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I think this was a very important step for her to take in the music industry because women are already controlled by men in a lot of aspects of the industry. For example they're encouraged to make 'sexy' music videos for their songs just so they might appeal to the masses. However, Taylor has always thought out of the box and I absolutely love that about her. Even when she was accused of just writing about her exes and for being 'boy-crazy', she ended up turning it into a joke by creating the Blank Space music video where she portrays herself as her critics' comments. The fact that she decided to own her music and re-record it also gave new…

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This reminds me of the Britney Spears conservatorship case where for 13 years all her finances and personal life decisions were out of her control. It’s great to see that women are speaking up against their struggles. Usually, women feel scared because they feel that men are more powerful than them but Taylor and Britney have both proved that standing up does do you good. You always look at celebrities and envy their lifestyles and think it’s perfect but when you see stuff like this it makes you realise that they too struggle. In fact, they face struggles that many of us will never have to experience.

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