Taylor Swift has unveiled details of her long-awaited new record deal.
In an Instagram post to her 113 million followers, the US superstar said: "I'm ecstatic to announce that my musical home will be Republic Records and Universal Music Group" and hailed Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge and Republic founder/CEO Monte Lipman as "incredible partners".
Under the deal, Swift will retain ownership of her master recordings from now on, a move she described as "incredibly exciting". "It's really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry," she added. "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."
But the real game-changer is this: Swift said she also made it a "condition" of the deal with Universal that any sales of the major's Spotify shares would "result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable". "They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by major labels. I see this as a sign that we are headed towards positive change for creators – a goal I'm never going to stop trying to help achieve."
This move to benefit other artists, rather than just herself, echoes Swift's Apple Music intervention, which saw the company U-turn on its initial decision to not pay royalties to artists or labels during its initial three-month free trial period. "This is not about me," she said at the time. "This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success.” Apple changed its policy the following day.
Under the multi-year agreement, UMG will serve as the exclusive worldwide recorded music partner for Swift and UMG’s Republic Records will serve as her label partner in the US.
The multi-album agreement, effective immediately, deepens the relationship between Swift and UMG and builds upon the enormous success she achieved with Big Machine Records. A 10-time Grammy winner and the youngest-ever recipient of the Grammy for Album Of The Year — and the first female solo artist to win the award twice — Swift is the only artist in history with four albums with sales of more than one million US copies in their first week of release (2010's Speak Now, 2012's Red, 2014's 1989 and 2017’s Reputation), respectively.
In making the announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge said, “Few artists in history approach Taylor Swift's combination of massive global hits and creative brilliance. She is so multi-talented, she can achieve anything. I have such enormous respect for Taylor, in particular for her use of her hard-earned influence to promote positive change. Because of her commitment to her fellow artists, not only did she want to partner with a company that understood her creative vision and had the resources and expertise to execute globally on her behalf, she also sought a partner whose approach to artists was aligned with hers. With these shared beliefs, there is so much we can accomplish together, and all of us at UMG are enormously proud to be embarking on the next chapter of her career alongside her.”
Monte Lipman said, “Taylor has not only captured the imagination of an entire generation, but has also redefined the paradigm of the modern music industry. Her commitment to songwriting and performing has earned her the respect of her peers and millions of adoring fans around the world. I can only imagine what Taylor is capable of achieving in the years to come, both culturally and creatively. I’m beyond thrilled to create an alliance with Republic Records and the incomparable Taylor Swift.”
Swift was believed to have had a myriad of options on the table with regards to a new deal, from huge major label offers to going it alone. All six of Swift’s previous albums were released on Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label, with distribution via Universal Music Group. Virgin EMI handled her releases in the UK. Swift gave "heartfelt thanks" to 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".
As outlined in a widely-read Music Week piece earlier this month, Swift was in a unique position to write her own future. Reputation has sold 336,112 copies to date in the UK, according to the Official Charts Company.
Her sales power is such that even Apple and Spotify have made moves to accommodate her over the years, while her live business has also proved phenomenally successful in recent years. The Reputation stadium tour, which earned rave reviews, ends on Wednesday night with the second of two shows at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
This deal, though, sets Swift up as the ultimate industry game-changer. The business – and Swift’s army of fans – will now await news of her first new music under the deal.