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The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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Music Artists Attempt To Regain Ownership After Losing Song Rights

Roxane Gama
Reading Time: 2 minutes

American greed: you don’t have to look very hard to find cases of it anywhere. 

From politics, to education, to now the music industry, industry titans such as Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen have found themselves in battles over the ownership of their own voice in songs. You’d think it wouldn’t be very hard for artists to get a lot of ownership over their music, but you’d be wrong.

Since 2021, Taylor Swift has decided to re-record all of her old songs in an attempt to regain some sort of ownership that she wasn’t given with her old songs. This was massive as it portrayed her as she was taken advantage of as she was up and coming. This proved extremely successful as she broke records and arguably grew even more with this drama. 

More recently, Morgan Wallen has found himself in a slightly different situation than Swift. Wallen shared details on social media about what was happening to him with his old music. In 2014, Wallen signed a music and songwriting deal with a local investor and an artist management deal that he “deeply regrets.” 

Wallen made 13 songs where he describes them as both “okay” and “terrible,” he released five songs that he deemed good enough to be released on a stand alone EP. Wallen further describes how his former colleagues plan to release a tenth anniversary edition against his wishes and include eight unreleased songs, while distributing it with the assistance of his former managers. They don’t even try to hide their grubbiness by working with his former managers; it’s almost like they’re just trying to show they have power over him, not even a real business move.

Wallen and his team tried to explore every way to acquire the rights to his old music, he added “its gross, greedy & an example of the dark side of the music business can suck the soul out of artists.” The songs that Wallen explains that will inevitably be released make him “cringe” but he’s feeling inspired and super excited to make more music he’s proud of. I can attest, these songs are very mediocre. 

His response is re-recording “Spin You Around” and donating $100K to the Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals For The Arts (VLPA) program. This was a great move by Wallen as it helps grow his music while helping fight against the issue.

These recent events truly disgust me. It’s not just Swift or Wallen who’s experiencing these ordeals, there are hundreds of artists who have and/or will face problems like this in the future. The truly sad fact is, right now there are up and coming artists who are being taken advantage of because they don’t know any better.

To think there are so many up and coming artists being taken advantage of because of money-hungry people out there really is upsetting. What’s even more frustrating is how even if the artist makes it big, it can still sting them badly. But the question is now, what can be done?

It requires collective action from artists, industry stakeholders and policymakers. It involves advocating for legislative changes that safeguard artists’ rights, promoting education within the artistic community about legal protections, and promoting a culture that values and respects the creative contributions of musicians.

By addressing the systemic issues and advocating for reform, an environment will be made where artists are empowered, protected, and able to focus on their craft without fear of exploitation.

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