Taylor Swift looks set for an unprecedented Bumper Record Deal when her contract with her current label expires later this year (18).
The 28-year-old signed with Big Machine Records and its founder Scott Borchetta when she was just 15 years old, and after six albums, she will be free to sign a new deal in November – one year after the release of her last record, Reputation.
Music industry insiders told Variety that her team has already had preliminary talks with bosses at her current label, as well as their rivals, and all are allegedly so desperate to sign Taylor that a groundbreaking deal may be brokered.
Top music business lawyer Doug Davis told Variety the situation has “no precedent” in the modern era and she will be able to “write her own ticket” with regard to the terms of any new contract. He said the Blank Space singer could sign the “biggest artist deal of the century so far” in financial terms by signing with a major label – or go it alone.
Another insider said that if the pop superstar leaves Big Machine, Universal Music Group chief Lucian Grainge, who has a distribution deal with her current label, “will do anything in his power” to keep her recording for one of his imprints, and will outbid rival companies to avoid her being tempted away – with competition from the likes of Sony and Warner Music meaning she could earn as much as $20 million per album.
Taylor and her team have also pioneered independent projects including launching her own social media app. And last year she trademarked ‘Swifties’, the widely used name for her fans, for use as the name of a streaming service.
One ex-label chief believes she might go it alone without a recognized label.
“She might still want the security blanket of a label,” the unnamed former record chief said. “But she could do a great distribution deal anywhere, hire a few more people, and pay for some services that the streaming platforms will have soon but don’t have yet.”
Scott and his company hold the rights to the master tapes to Taylor’s first six records, and the star’s desire to obtain ownership of her back catalog in addition to any new music is reportedly a sticking point as they negotiate renewing their relationship. However, one insider predicted she and her label boss would work things out as they are “like family”.