Two years ago, Swedish pop star Zara Larsson became independent: she bought back the rights to her master recordings and created her own record label.
This week sees the first fruits of that enterprise, when she releases her fourth album, Venus, on her Sommer House label.
“I feel like she’s a boss,” the singer tells the BBC.
“I feel older and I feel like I have control over what I do in a different way.”
It’s been a long road to get here. Larsson first found fame at the age of 10, when she won the Swedish version of Britain’s Got Talent, singing a cover of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.
She subsequently signed to the Swedish label TEN, where she scored international hits with songs such as Lush Life, So Good, Ruin My Live and the Clean Bandit collaboration Symphony.
Then, in 2022, the head of the label decided it was time to close the business.
Her name was Ola Håkansson, a Swedish music legend who had recorded with Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog and helped launch bands like The Cardigans and Icona Pop. But she was turning 75 and wanted to retire.
“Ola said, ‘You know what? I think I’ve done my time. I’m getting to the point where I just want to be with my family,'” Larsson explains.
But Håkansson had seen the consequences when Taylor Swift’s former label, Big Machine, went up for sale in 2019.
When an investment firm seized the company’s back catalog, Swift protested that she had been denied the opportunity to take possession of her master recordings.
Outraged, she set about re-recording them from scratch, devaluing the originals and regaining control of her songs.
“Ola saw what happened to Taylor and felt like it would be her nightmare,” Larsson says.
“If you’ve worked for so long in the industry, do you really want to come out this sad? Like some old record label guy who just wants to have a few extra bucks?”
“So the first person he approached about purchasing my master’s degree was me. Obviously I said yes because it’s an incredible opportunity.
“Now I know that the songs that shaped my career are safe with me. And if I ever want to do anything with them, it’s up to me, not an investment company that doesn’t even care about music.”
After acquiring the rights to her songs, it made “perfect sense” to create her own label, Sommer House, which distributes her releases through a deal with Sony Music.
Venus was released on Friday after a year-long run in which she released four singles, including the hit David Guetta collaboration On My Love and the ’80s power pop anthem Ca n’t Tame Her, as well as a Christmas EP .