Red (Taylor’s Version) is Not Nothing New

On October 12th, 2021 Taylor Swift released her fourth studio album, titled Red. The album, which has a listening time of approximately 65 minutes, received much praise from fans and music critics alike. It is her third most popular album and was the second-highest-selling album of 2012

This year, on June 18th, Swift announced that she would be re-recording and releasing the album. The album, titled Red (Taylor’s Version) was set to be released on November 19th but ended up being released a week earlier. The new version of the album contains both new and previously released tracks, extending the album’s listening time to a lengthy 130 minutes. Fortunately, the length did not deter listeners and the album has amassed roughly 90.8 million opening day streams on Spotify, making Swift the most streamed artist in a single day

Historically, Swift has always been extremely interactive with her fans. She has surprised fans by commenting on their Instagram posts, replying to their tweets, reblogging their Tumblr posts, etc. She has even gone as far as sending fans gifts and in one historic instance, inviting fans to her house for a party. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Swift’s social media interaction with fans increased greatly right before the album was released. Swift took to social media platforms such as TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram to promote her album and went out of her way to respond to fans who expressed their excitement for the upcoming album. “Hahahah you’re amazing,” she commented on a TikTok video of a girl screaming along to the lyrics of the song, All Too Well

Various brands also expressed their support for Swift’s new album. Starbucks created a drink called “Taylor’s latte” and on the day of the album’s release, the brand’s Twitter account retweeted a video of the red scarf featured in All Too Well. Etsy was another brand that referenced the iconic red scarf by tweeting a picture of a woman in a matching red knit hat and scarf. The Sour Patch Kids’ Twitter account used their red gummy to wish everyone but Jake Gyllenhaal a good morning, referencing the fact that many of the songs on Swift’s album are about their old relationship. Even Duolingo played homage to the album by painting its mascot’s beak red and uploading a video to TikTok. 

But the success of Red (Taylor’s Version) is due not only to Swift’s marketing strategies: the controversy surrounding it plays a role as well. The album’s release had been anticipated even before Swift announced that it was in the works. In 2019, Scooter Braun, an American businessman, acquired ownership of the masters to Swift’s first six studio albums after purchasing her old label. This meant that Swift had no control over whether her music could be licensed to third parties, such as commercials, sampling for other artists, TV shows, etc.

In November of 2019, Swift publicly denounced Braun’s ownership and announced that she would be re-recording and releasing her first six studio albums. This would allow her complete control and artistic license over her music. Since the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift has released a short film for All Too Well and I Bet You Think About Me, both of which are songs on Red. 

By re-recording her albums, Swift is not only regaining control over her music. She is bringing attention to an industry that regularly preys on young, vulnerable artists. The enthusiasm that fans have shown for Red (Taylor’s Version), even though they have heard most of the material before, demonstrates to other artists whom the industry has taken advantage of that it is possible to take a stand.