A big issue in the music industry over the last few years has surrounded the concept of the “re-record”. This is where an artist chooses to re-record their hits to gain ownership of their works, which are usually owned by their former labels.
TLC, Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge, and JoJo are examples of artists who have re-recorded their hits in the last few years. I support the intent, especially if you were screwed in the original deal. However, you shouldn’t be lazy in the re-recording process. At least take it a step above a karaoke performance.
There are several legalities when it comes to re-recording songs initially delivered under a standard recording agreement. You have to make sure that you can legally do so, and that the agreement term has indeed passed. You’ll have to relicense the publishing rights to the songs and clear any samples that you reuse (since it’s a different master recording).
But most importantly: you’d have to make sure that the new recording is distinct enough from the original. You may run into issues if your re-record is too close to the original.
Each case I mention in the video has been successful in creating a distinction. However, they fell short in the execution. The production value was not at the same quality, despite the recording process being significantly cheaper. The vocal performances tended to be dialed in, heavily autotuned, and/or just not produced well overall.
It’s unfortunate because each artist had the opportunity to take their old repertoire and breathe new life into it; making it better than it was.
Moral of the Story
This is all coming from a music snob, so these new versions are probably fine for the casual listener. Yet, I’m sure all of their fans (like me) know the difference… and if we’re honest, we prefer the originals.
So in the case of re-records: I’m all for them. But if you’re going to do it, improve on what you originally did.