By Zack O'Malley Greenburg for Forbes
Taylor Swift started the day with good news, landing the No. 2 spot on Forbes' list of the top-earning women in music. Within minutes, she had one-upped
herself, announcing a new record deal with Universal Music Group's Republic Records. Though terms were not officially released, the pact could be worth anywhere from $100
million in guarantees to perhaps $200 million, Forbes has learned from multiple sources who've asked to remain anonymous.
Universal lured Swift away from her longtime home, Big Machine Label Group, with a deal that calls for the aforementioned centimillion-dollar guarantee; presumably, Swift could
top that if she earns out her advances. Likely more important to the singer than the dollar amount: Universal will let Swift keep her future master recordings, which should revert to her
five years after the release of each song, some sources say (Universal disputes these figures--see appended statement below).
"I'm ecstatic to announce that my musical home will be Republic Records and Universal Music Group," Swift wrote on Instagram. "Over the years, [UMG chief] Sir Lucian Grainge and
[Republic chief] Monte Lipman have been such incredible partners. It's so thrilling to me that they, and the UMG team, will be my label family moving forward. It's also incredibly exciting to
know that I'll own all of my master recordings that I make from now on."
Of course, Swift was already quite familiar with the UMG team, which distributed her albums released under BMLG. According to the singer, the most important point of all in her deciding to
sign with UMG was the label agreeing to distribute a cut of proceeds from any sale of its Spotify shares to artists, non-recoupable--meaning that they'd be paid even if they hadn't earned back
their latest advance.
The major labels amassed over $1 billion in Spotify and other streaming services over the years, as reported here several years ago. UMG is the last hanging on to all of its Spotify
equity--Sony sold half its shares and made non-recoupable distributions; Warner sold all its holdings but didn't make the payouts non-recoupable--and has suggested it would share proceeds in the
event of a sale as its peers did.
UMG was reportedly leaning toward making such payouts non-recoupable, but Swift may have pushed the company over the top. In any case, this sort of windfall is usually
calculated on a market share basis, meaning top acts would get the largest cut. As one of the biggest artists on the planet, Swift should be in line for yet another huge
A representative for Swift did not reply to a request for comment.