Taylor Swift is feeling more supported than ever at her new musical home after leaving her longtime label Big Machine

By Melody Chiu
December 04, 2019 03:00 PM

As she said earlier this year, Taylor Swift is betting on her future — but that doesn’t mean she’s willing to let go of her life’s work.

Over the last year, the star has been outspoken about her struggles with her former record label, Big Machine, after its $300 million sale to music manager Scooter Braun.

In PEOPLE’s latest cover story, Swift — who is honored as one of four People of the Year — reveals exactly why it’s been so important for her to speak up about injustices in the industry, and how she’s feeling more supported than ever by her new musical home.

“One of the feelings of pride and contentment and gratitude that I had when Lover came out was this sense of being so thankful that after so long of being denied the rights to music that I had made and created, I finally felt like I was in a place where I had aligned myself with generous people,” says the 10-time Grammy winner, whose first six albums were all released under Big Machine. “The label that I’m at now, the team that I have now, there’s not a single person in that sphere that wants to deny me of what I created, and that feels really good.”

For more on 2019’s People of the Year, click here and pick up this week’s issue, on stands Friday, Dec. 6.

Credit: Miller Mobley

When Swift, 29, signed her new contract with Universal Music Group, the label agreed to pay their artists a “significant portion” of money they earn from Spotify shares.

“It’s a hugely important thing to me as an artist because that’s our pension plan. That’s our thing that we get to leave to our kids,” she says. “That’s what we should be able to have as creators and writers.”

Despite any backlash the superstar may face when she speaks out, Swift says it would be disingenuous of her to stay silent.

“I’m just gonna always speak up for things if I think it’s a discrepancy in the narrative of the music industry. If I think that the industry isn’t bringing certain things to light that I think new artists should know about, if I’m in a position to speak about it — which thankfully I am — and somebody who’s younger who’s signing a record deal can learn from that, then that’s a good day.”

Taylor Swift
| Credit: Miller Mobley

Embracing her voice and getting loud about issues she’s passionate about has also helped her form a deeper bond with her fans, who Swift has had a special relationship with since she burst into the music scene 15 years ago.

“I think when your public opinions on things are known, it makes me feel like my fans are able to know me more. It feels like what I believe in and what people know I believe in are aligned,” she says. “That is a really great sense of relief to have as a person who for 15 years has been trying to navigate what is public and what isn’t. It’s a nice moment right now to know I can say what I believe in, and I can disconnect from if people don’t like that.”

And the cherry on top? “I can sleep really well at night.”