We have a long way to go. I think that we’re working off of an antiquated contractual system. We’re galloping toward a new industry but not thinking about recalibrating financial structures and compensation rates, taking care of producers and writers.
We need to think about how we handle master recordings, because this isn’t it. When I stood up and talked about this, I saw a lot of fans saying, “Wait, the creators of this work do not own their work, ever?” I spent 10 years of my life trying rigorously to purchase my masters outright and was then denied that opportunity, and I just don’t want that to happen to another artist if I can help it. I want to at least raise my hand and say, “This is something that an artist should be able to earn back over the course of their deal -- not as a renegotiation ploy -- and something that artists should maybe have the first right of refusal to buy.” God, I would have paid so much for them! Anything to own my work that was an actual sale option, but it wasn’t given to me.
Thankfully, there’s power in writing your music. Every week, we get a dozen synch requests to use “Shake It Off” in some advertisement or “Blank Space” in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them. And the reason I’m rerecording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it.
Do you know how long that rerecording process will take?
I don’t know! But it’s going to be fun, because it’ll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what’s mine. When I created [these songs], I didn’t know what they would grow up to be. Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music.
Ten years ago, on the brink of the 2010s, you were about to turn 20. What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
Oh, God -- I wouldn’t give myself any advice. I would have done everything exactly the same way. Because even the really tough things I’ve gone through taught me things that I never would have learned any other way. I really appreciate my experience, the ups and downs. And maybe that seems ridiculously Zen, but … I’ve got my friends, who like me for the right reasons. I’ve got my family. I’ve got my boyfriend. I’ve got my fans. I’ve got my cats.