Can A Computer Write A Taylor Swift Song?

Now that Taylor Swift has signed a contact to release future albums through Universal Music Group, can UMG close a second deal to buy Big Machine Label Group, which owns Swift's back catalog?

As Swift held talks with labels, tech companies and other potential financial partners in recent months about a new recording deal -- which ultimately went to UMG's Republic Records, she announced on Instagram Monday -- people close to the discussions told Billboard that the one thing the 28-year-old megastar wanted most was to regain ownership of her first six albums.

Now, one way she stands to regain her catalog is if UMG buys Big Machine, which is on the market for between $300 million and $350 million. Sources familiar with artist contracts say that whatever deal Swift signed with UMG might have contingencies built in to ensure that Swift would eventually gain ownership of her old masters, if UMG wins the Big Machine auction.

If UMG is willing to accommodate her goal, the big question for UMG then would be how many years would it need to control Swift's catalog in order to recoup its investments and make a worthwhile profit before returning control to Swift. UMG does similar math before inking many of its deals, sources say, including the new Swift agreement, which gives the Republic label a long-term license to Swift's new recordings, but not ownership of them. Neither UMG nor Swift disclosed the length or other terms of their agreement.

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