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Op-Ed: Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now’ album shows creatives how to fight for themselves, their work

Taylor Swift began rerecording her first six studio albums in 2021, reclaiming her rights to the first 11 years of her artistic career. Swift’s newest rerecording “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” was re-released on July 7, becoming the most-streamed album in a single day on Spotify in 2023 so far. This drop makes her “Taylor’s Version” releases a trilogy, adding yet another of her previously stolen works to her owned catalog.

Swift has previously mentioned her dedication to artists and songwriters owning their own creations, advocating for owning your masters, and fighting for artists to receive royalties on streaming services. This newest release is especially important to her creative portfolio given that the original Speak Now redefined Taylor’s artistry. Every single track from this album is 100% written by her. Lyricists and songwriters of the 2010s – Speak Now’s original release date – to now can still appreciate this feat.

This album also contains six “From The Vault” tracks with an entirely new and unexpected lyrical and melodic structure that “Speak Now” needed.

Creatives have something to learn from Swift and her process. Regardless of whether you like her music, her business and creative methods have created a loyal fan base. The sheer level of success she holds after changing and rebranding so many times, frankly, is unbelievable. It all comes down to her creativity. She knows her audience, and she knows how they think. She’s held so many enthralled by just her songs. This shows us how creatives with something to say and the gall to do something that’s authentic to them cannot be stopped.

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Swift’s pen is sharper and cuts deeper in rereleases, from “Dear John (Taylor’s Version)” to “When Emma Falls In Love (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” her songs paint pictures of demolishing your demons and yet thread a wonderfully webbed world of whimsical wonderlands that was left in youth. She gives us a chance to look at our mistakes and gain perspective on what we once never understood from “Back to December (Taylor’s Version)” to “Timeless (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” and look at our teenage and young adult travesties as our most sensational muses.

“Speak Now” gave Swift a way to break creative boundaries, do things the world tells her she can never do, and gain creative freedom from her relentless spirit. With the addition of songs like “I Can See You (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” and “Castle Crumbling (feat. Hayley Williams) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” it’s clear that Swift had her heart set on showing those who took her pieces of art away from her that they’d regret it.

This is a model for how creatives should empower themselves, their work and their hearts to never let what was once a mistake, what was once your whole world, stop you from your present success. She shows us how creatives can move on from their previous scars without losing what they learned from the pain.

Swift took her life and narrative and made something that others could listen, laugh, and learn from, and again after 13 years, she shows us how our past can only make our present more abundant. In “Speak Now” especially, we see her grow and change but never stray away from those ever-changing and always valid feelings of pain, heartbreak, and isolation that comes with youth. Even after 13 years you can take your art and make it something meaningful with enough intention and confidence. From a musical standpoint, this is bold, from a cultural standpoint this is original, and from a fan’s point of view, this is refreshing.

We all need to take notes.

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About the Contributor
Sydney Mantei
Sydney Mantei, Former Social Media Content Creator