What does (Taylor’s Version) mean?


Addy Clarke, Index Editor

On Friday, May 5, 2023, Taylor Swift had been performing one of three nights in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee when she announced something fans had been speculating about for months. At around 8:47pm (PST), she revealed the released date of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) will be available for purchase and available to stream on July 7, just in time for her two concerts being performed in Seattle on July 22 and July 23. But what exactly does (Taylor’s Version) mean?

When Taylor Swift first started releasing music in 2005, she was signed with the record label Big Machine Records which produced her first six albums: Taylor Swift (Debut), Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, and Reputation. Further into 2018, she switched record labels to Universal’s Republic Records, leaving those original six albums with Big Machine Records. So why are we even talking about (Taylor’s Version)?

The easiest answer: Scooter Braun.

In leaving Big Machine Records, she also lost the rights to the master songs which were quickly sold to Scooter Braun for $300 million in 2019, meaning if anyone wanted to use the songs within the six albums either for TV and film or any form of advertising, the producers would be asking Braun and paying him instead of the original artist, Taylor Swift. At first, it appeared that Swift wasn’t interested in buying back her music, but as an old Tumblr post resurfaced, a different story started to be told. “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work… I walked away and because I knew once I signed that label, Scott Borchetta [CEO of Big Machine Records] would sell the label, thereby selling my future… Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create, Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future.”

Big Machine Records would go on to offer a deal to Swift saying she could get one album back for every new album turned in, which Swift respectfully found unacceptable. So, working together with her new record label, she was able to start the global phenomena known as (Taylor’s Version). (Taylor’s Version) means that whatever album is seen with that label behind the title, Taylor Swift owns and makes money off of. Starting with her sophomore album Fearless, which originally contained 13 songs, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released April 9, 2021 with an additional 13 songs, many coming from a place called “(From The Vault)” which are all songs that were written for the album but were never released.

Her second rerelease was her fourth studio album Red, originally including 16 songs. Rereleasing on November 12, 2021, with 14 added songs, again including songs (From The Vault). The most recognizable becoming All Too Well (10 Minute Version), bringing back a past relationship of Swift’s with Jake Gyllenhaal.

With the rerelease of Speak Now, it can be expected that the album will contain songs (From The Vault), but something else to be expected is Swift’s infamous relationship with singer John Mayer being brought back into the spotlight. “Dear John” was a breakup song about Mayer, who Swift dated when she was 19 and Mayer was 32. In addition to “Dear John”, “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” from her newest album Midnights (3am Edition) has also helped the public remember their tumultuous relationship, especially with the lyrics “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first/and I damn sure never would have danced with the devil, at 19”. As for Mayer’s reaction to “Dear John”? He would go on to call it cheap writing and talk about how shamed he felt without the communication beforehand. (At least Swift didn’t write “why you no love me?” in a song).

So what comes next? Well, people have already started speculating what the next (Taylor’s Version) album might be. The Era’s tour is expected to bring in about $500 million, and all the while Swift has proven she’s willing to perform well into the night in the rain. Fans started to worry whether her last show in her hometown of Tennessee would get cancelled due to stormy weather, but Taylor performed in pouring down rain and went all the way until 1:30 a.m. in order to deliver the concert she promised her fans. Swift constantly inspires all of us to stay fearless (Taylor’s Version).