Can you re-record a song after you have sold the master?

Can you re-record a song after you have sold the master?
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I thought it was against terms and conditions, but apparently Taylor Swift is doing just that.

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I’ve always really hated this side of the stupid music biz. I’m no fan of Taylor Swift and feel no sympathy for a billionaire, but damn, it sucks that intellectual/creative property can be bought and sold like stocks and that someone as powerful as Ms Swift still can’t wrestle back control of her own work.

To a certain extent, I agree that an artist should always retain the rights to their intellectual property, but my guess is that Swift, who is in the rarified air of superstar cash cow, probably made a ton of money by selling the masters, and her agent arranged it for that purpose.
Since her music is exposed around the world digitally, owning the masters is an interesting investment, but does not prevent her from monetizing her performance and publishing rights, I would presume. So, all in all, she made money in every direction, which is kind of the point of her brand.

Like many desperate superstars in the making, I think she gave her early-work rights away as part of an early deal. At the time it probably seemed like a good idea. It’s not uncommon. Tons of bands trade their future for a piece of right now. Everyone wants to be big and famous, but the obvious reality is that very very few ever get there, so that kind of deal is probably better than starving in the early days. I know that’s the biz, but I have a hard time with accepting someone else making a ton of money off work they had nothing to do with.

The music industry is such a strange game. I guess that’s the case in any industry where lots of money flows through a few hands.

Maybe it was a good idea at the time, right? It’s possible she would have never really made it past phase 1 if she didn’t do that.

I think it would suck a whole lot more if it could not be sold.

Exactly my thoughts Bob. The playing/broadcasting/selling of those masters will be bringing her untold wealth from the publishing and the exposure. I wonder if she posts stuff about that for her fans to read like she posts her ‘woe is me’ stuff.

She must have agreed to their sale in the first place. Why does she think she has a right to buy them back?

More to the point, why does she think she has a right to re-record them? Those rights are sold along with the masters.

Or maybe she doesn’t like seeing her creations being passed around strictly for someone else’s financial gain.

Does she not? If other people have the right to buy them, why not her too? She agreed to this deal in her early days. A deal is a deal, even a bad one, and she willingly went into it. No question about that. What if she was not even given the opportunity to get them back? I don’t know if that’s the case. I’m just wondering if there are bad people working against her, or if she really is just complaining to complain.

Lots of bands re-record stuff they’ve lost personal control of.

Not only is it possible, it’s also very likely. This was a bad deal she had to enter into just to even get off the ground. But she obviously made it out okay.

Really? Can you give me some examples please?

Just off the top of my head…

KISS
NOFX
The Queers
The Ventures
Kate Bush
Suicidal Tendencies
A handful of bands re-recorded stuff for the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games

I’m sure there’s many more.

I am more on the metal side of things but can cite as an example the fact that Dave Mustaine (of Metallica and Megadeth fame) had to:

  1. live with bunch of his songs ending on Metallica CDs after being fired from band without recording even 1 album with them
  2. recently went thru and remixed his whole catalog to cut out mixers and producers from the financial chain, even went as far as removing Lee Ving’s vocals, and recorded vocals himself, so he won’t have to pay him royalties.

Haha I love musical pettiness.

Not really the same, but sort of related…

Back in the 90s someone had the idea to remaster The Stooges “Raw Power”. I love The Stooges but I really doubt anyone asked for this. Anyway, Iggy rejected the idea but was somehow contractually roped into doing the re-mix. He made it unbearable to listen to. I think to this day it still might be the loudest CD ever put out.

I heard (it could be made up) that Iced Earth is going through and re-recording their entire catelog for the same reason.

OK I don’t know the individual circumstances quoted but I’m pretty sure you cannot re-record your songs if you don’t own the masters or if you don’t have permission from the owners of the masters.

No-one would buy your masters if you were allowed to go straight back in the studio and produce a carbon copy. That’s pretty self-evident I would have thought. It’s copyright infringement.

It really depends what you’ve sold. If you own the rights to the publishing, i.e. the original song, and have sold the mechanical and performance royalties (the sonics), then you can go back and re-record the song as many times as you wish.
Lately I am finding quite a lot of these on Deezer - for example, one was the RATT guy (Pearcy?) that apparently had rights to the songs but not the recording and performance, so he released all their hits under Pearcy Ratt or something like that and it is perfectly legal.
Sharon Osbourne re-recorded a lot of parts played by Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley on re-releases early Ozzy albums after these guys sued for compensation.

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That’s a separate discussion. It’s not the same as re-recording a master in order to circumvent ownership of the original recording. If i was a record company, there is no way I would put money up for master recordings if the artist was allowed to go off and make a carbon copy. Most deals have restrictions on that.

“Re-recording restrictions work by preventing the artist from creating a new version of any sound recording delivered under their agreement for anyone else for a defined period of time, often the greater of five years from delivery or three years from the end of the contract’s term. They are written to prevent any re-recording, even in situations where the original masters were never released.”

Well however whatever you feel about it, it happens. A lot.

Yeah… Big Machine paid for it, Big Machine owns it. Scooter’s investment firm bought Big Machine, and everything in the catalog went with it :slight_smile:

Why? Intellectual property is a commodity that can be bought, sold, and traded.

?? Taylor forfeited that when she signed the contract. She took their money (or you could say they ‘invested it’ in her). The intellectual property is the way they get it back :slight_smile:

Yeah… if I were her, I would be thinking about how 20% of a watermellon is a lot better than 100% of a grape.

…and she didn’t have ‘first right of refusal’. That’s what kept her from buying them back, and having any say in who her material got sold to.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Scot Brochetta. If Scooter made an offer to acquire the label, but the label wasn’t worth half of its appraisal value without Swift’s assets included, then why sell the assets back to the artist? Keep everything together, and sell it all together right?