Swift Karma in the Entertainment Industry

The Hollywood strikes continue and have no end in sight as I mentioned in my last post.

So, with that “no news is bad news,” I thought I’d share some good news for this Labor Day.

Now, I’m more of a Tom Swifty fan than Taylor Swift fan, but besides knowing that “girl can write a song,” I appreciate how she’s taken the “with great power comes great responsibility” challenge seriously.

You see, she’s made headlines this summer, yes, this same summer of labor strikes, because she’s been raking in the Benjamins and sharing her profits with all sorts of folks working on her tour as bonuses. In fact, she’d be raking in the Woodrows (aka $100,000 bills) if they were around, so it shouldn’t be a surprise these bonuses have amounted to millions of dollars. Sharing her tremendously successful tour with people who have been working on the tour, eh? Kinda sounds like how the actors and writers have been advocating they should share in the success of incredibly successful projects they make. Even folks at Forbes are noting Hollywood should take note.

But as Doctor Seuss would say, “That is not all, no that is not all.”

To set up the next bit of sweet, sweet creators-pushing-back-at-executives karma, we need to go back to the landmark move Taylor Swift made by re-recording her old songs. You may vaguely remember she did so. I vaguely did, but it’s great to have more background. And for that, I’m not going to do better in explaining what she did and how the music industry made such conditions necessary than a lawyer and music veteran respectively, so here’s two immensely satisfying videos.

First the lawyer:

(Runtime of 19 minutes)

Now the veteran music producer:

(Runs under 7 and a half minutes)

Now, certainly not everyone has the ability to re-record their songs and thereby own their own masters and most musical folks certainly don’t have the fanbase that Swift has. Those fans are the shock troops that break through obstinate distributors: because money will be made and Swift will make it with you or without you. But that very act shines a nice light on the fact that distributors do not have all the power. We already knew this as one of the promises of the internet, where everyone is a citizen-creator and can self-distribute. On the one hand, that makes experienced distributors more valuable, but on the other hand, that means said distributors can’t be complacent.

Enter “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert film, because why stop printing money? Apparently, film studio executives had not been talking with music executives because when the Swift and her peeps came shopping for a distro deal, said studio executives apparently weren’t listening to the megastar’s preferences.

So Taylor Swift cut them out of the deal.

Hannah Shaw-Williams’ piece for SlashFilm documents the surprise and umbrage wonderfully, including how the studios have reacted by changing their schedules to stay away from the release date Swift chose. Now, the article above does mention an important change in the laws surrounding movie production, distribution, and exhibition — and that’s good to note. But, in a sense, just like re-recording her song masters, Taylor Swift is doing what any independent producer could do (and, in fact, have done in the past: looking at you, Melvin van Peebles). But that doesn’t make the karma any less sweet-sipping.

This post was originally just about how Taylor Swift re-recorded her masters. That she’s gone ahead and done that same trick again in another arena, well, rocks. Girl can write a song.

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