Taylor Swift calls Scooter Braun's acquisition of her back catalog 'worst case scenario'
Just hours after the news broke that Scooter Braun bought Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group, Taylor Swift is not shaking it off.
On Sunday, Billboard reported that Swift’s former label, Big Machine Label Group, closed a deal to be acquired by music manager and mogul Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. Big Machine are the owner of Swift’s master recordings from her 2006 self-titled debut through to her previous album, 2017’s Reputation.
As the news broke, the singer-songwriter shared a post on her Tumblr page, expressing how “sad and grossed out” the sale makes her. Swift noted a sense of betrayal at her music being sold to Braun, a man she alleges perpetrated “incessant, manipulative bullying” against her for years. She wrote not only of her dissatisfaction at not owning the rights to her own music, but of her dismay at the man who purchased them. Braun is the manager for a wide range of current artists, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West.
“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift began her Tumblr post. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.”
Swift says she was given no advance warning of the news, but only learned of it as the rest of the world did. “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she wrote. “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
She took the opportunity to use the post to call out powerful men in the music industry who don’t value or respect artists. “This is my worst case scenario,” she continued. “This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.”
Swift also called out Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine, for selling her catalog to a man he knew she had a negative history with. “When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them,” she wrote. “Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”
She chose to end the message by praising her current label, writing, “Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.”
Swift ended by looking forward to her new music and signing off as “sad and grossed out” with a broken heart emoji. “I will always be proud of my past work. But for a healthier option, Lover will be out August 23,” she concluded.
Read Swift’s entire post here.
Representatives for Braun and Big Machine did not immediately answer to EW’s request for comment, however, Big Machine did respond later on Sunday to Swift’s allegations in a lengthy blog post, which included screenshots of deal memos allegedly sent between November 2018 and June 2019. In the post, which can be read in full here, Borchetta seems to refuse Swift’s allegation that she was unable to buy back the rights to her master recordings.
Braun’s wife, Yael, also pushed back on many of Swift’s complaints on Instagram Sunday, writing, “You were given the opportunity to own your masters, you passed.” She also claims Swift was given advanced notice of the news. “Your dad is a shareholder and was notified, and Borchetta (the CEO of Big Machine) personally told you before this came out. So no, you didn’t find out with the world,” she writes. Read the full post below.
Later Sunday night, Swift’s rep refuted claims that the singer’s father is on the Big Machine board of directors and received advanced notice of the deal. “Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been,” the rep told PEOPLE. “On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty.” The rep went on to explain that Taylor’s dad skipped the call so he wouldn’t have to withhold info from his daughter. “Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta and he did not call her in advance,” the rep added.