In 2019, Taylor Swift opened up about her masters being sold without her knowledge. This act itself was not illegal but it opened up a discussion on the murkiness of artists not having the rights to their own works of art.
An artist’s masters are the original recording of a song. This is not the actual song itself. This is important to note because in Swift’s case she owns the actual songs. Taylor Swift is the writer of her own songs which allows her to own and re-record these songs without having to consult her old label.
As the owner of an artist’s masters you are in control of the amount of money an artist earns from royalties. The owner can diminish the percentage of money an artist makes.You also have complete control over who uses the songs. You can approve of when it’s performed and when it’s used in a show. This was seen when Taylor Swift was blocked from using certain songs in her documentary due to the fact that she did not own her masters.
Swift will not regain the rights to her masters unless they were sold to her or after the copyright expired.
This situation brought up the discussion of artists owning their own masters. This has had multiple new artists fighting for their rights as artists. Taylor Swift being robbed of her art has helped new artists, like Olivia Rodrigo, to push for the ownership of their masters.