Morgan Wallen album release controversy sparks re-record


On January 26, country singer Morgan Wallen’s former record label, Panacea Records, with which he had not associated for ten years, decided to release a tenth anniversary edition of his 2014 EP “Stand Alone,”
allegedly without his consent. The re-release includes eight unreleased tracks, of which he did not approve. The album was marketed as if it was his own work, immediately followed by a statement issued by Wallen, in which he announced that it was the work of the record label and his former managers, rather than Morgan himself. 

In response to this apparently unethical release, Wallen said, “It’s gross, greedy and an example of how the dark side of music can suck the soul of artists.” The singer-songwriter then proceeded to express his perspective and warn his fans and other artists like himself. “I want you to know that this is not my new music, and I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” Wallen said.  “I cringe when I listen to these songs, and I’m concerned my fans might mistakenly believe this is a new release by me. I begin recording my next project at the end of February. I’m feeling inspired creatively and super excited to make more music I’m proud of.” 

To get revenge on the label, Wallen re-recorded “Spin You Around,” a fan-favorite from the original EP, now known as “Spin You Around (1/24).” Wallen also donated $100,000 to the Morgan Wallen Foundation, and to the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts Program in order to raise awareness and support for artists who are going through, or have gone through, similar situations involving their intellectual property.

The fact that this happened to a singer as accomplished as Wallen is deeply infuriating, but what’s even more disappointing is the fact that he is not alone in this unfortunate struggle that can come with an unclear record contract. Something similar occurred in 2019 when Scooter Braun’s media company, Ithaca Holdings, acquired Big Machine Label Group for $300 million. This caused Taylor Swift to lose the rights to her first six albums, thus giving rise to “Taylor’s Versions.” I guess it is safe to say that Wallen is now taking a page out of Swift’s book, which honestly makes me wonder if we’ll be getting any “Morgan’s Versions” anytime soon.  

According to Upfront Capital, Labels push artists to constantly release new music and push to have their
artists create music that attracts the most attention. By doing so, an artists’ creative output is controlled by the label. Artists should be able to completely own the rights to their music, along with being able to be independent and explore their own ideas instead of being controlled by a record label. It is not fair or right, by any means, for record labels to be exploiting artists and denying their creativity, and it needs to stop. Wallen doesn’t deserve that treatment, Swift doesn’t deserve it and neither does any other artist.

I absolutely refuse to listen to the tracks released without Wallen’s consent, nor will I support Panacea Records in any way. The same goes for Braun, because what he did to Swift was inexcusable. Overall, I hope the atmosphere of the music industry changes so that artists can get the recognition and respect that they deserve. I cannot wait to hear Wallen’s new music when the time finally comes. I have no doubt that it will be amazing.

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