Taylor Swift vs. Scooter Braun: Who's on whose side?
The battle between Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun has ignited quite the controversy online since the songstress first accused the music manager of bullying her following his purchase of her former record label, Big Machine, on Sunday.
It all started when news broke that Swift’s former label closed a deal to be acquired by Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, meaning that he now owns all the pop star’s master recordings from 2006 to 2017. In a scathing post on her Tumblr page, Swift responded to the news, which she called “her worst case scenario” in part because of “incessant, manipulative bullying” she says Braun orchestrated against her.
“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,” Swift wrote. “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.”
Swift, who signed a new deal with Universal Music Group late last year — her new album Lover will be the first release under the label — added that she tried for years to own her work outright. “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,” she wrote. “I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, [Big Machine Label Group founder] Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future.”
Swift also claimed she was not given advance warning of the news in the lengthy post, which has divided Hollywood since it was posted. (For his part, Braun has not publicly commented on the news, but Big Machine posted a response to Swift on its website Sunday — more on that later.)
So who’s on Team Taylor and who’s Team Scooter? EW breaks it down:
Fellow musicians, longtime friends, fans, and even Selena Gomez’s mom have come out in support of Swift, with the hashtag #WeStandWithTaylor trending over the weekend.
The singer didn’t mince words with her support of Swift, and even went so far as to say that Swift should rerecord her old songs. “@taylorswift13 just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions,” Clarkson wrote on Twitter, adding, “I’d buy all the new versions just to prove a point.”
The model, actress, and longtime Swift pal took issue with Justin Bieber’s defense of his manager on Instagram (see Bieber’s entry below), to which Bieber’s wife, Hailey Baldwin, commented simply, “Gentleman.” In response, Delevingne commented on the post, writing, “Gentleman? @Haileybaldwin @justinbieber you must be bored. I wish you spent less time sticking up for men and more time trying to understand women and respecting their valid reactions. As a married man, you should be lifting women up instead of tearing them down because you are threatened. I am not sure you actually understand what an apology is. The issue that @taylorswift is talking about is far more than a picture and you know that. As you said, you haven’t spoken to her in years which means you definitely don’t understand the situation. I do. Take a step back and learn from this. We should all be on the same team. End of story.”
Singer and two-time Swift music video collaborator Hall came to her defense in a series of tweets over the weekend. “For those asking, I left Scooter Braun a long time ago…I am saddened by this news, but not shocked,” he wrote. “He is an evil person who’s only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego. I believe he is homophobic & I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.” In a follow-up tweet, Hall added that he was sure Braun would threaten him to stay quiet “like he has before.”
Fellow pop star Halsey supported Swift in a lengthy Twitter post, writing, “Taylor is a huge reason why I always insisted to write my own music. I believed if she did it (in a way that made my teeth ache like cold water and my heart swell and my eyes leak) than I should too.” See her full post below.
Selena Gomez’s mom
Selena Gomez, who is one of Swift’s closest friends, has yet to publicly weigh in on the matter, but her mother, Mandy Teefey, showed support for Swift on Instagram. “@Taylorswift I wish I could give you a big hug right now! Thank you for speaking out about this and teaching future young artists about protecting themselves. I don’t understand the pleasure of power plays to simply hurt people,” she wrote in part alongside a screenshot of Swift’s Tumblr post.
The singer gave her two cents on the matter, specifically with regard to Swift’s claims that she didn’t know about the deal ahead of time. “Telling someone about a deal days before it’s public means the deal was already done & she never had the opportunity to even make a bid to own her own work. These deals take months to negotiate in long form,” she tweeted.
The Victoria’s Secret model tweeted her support of Swift, saying she “couldn’t be prouder” of her friend.
The Panic at the Disco frontman, who collaborated with Swift on her new single “ME!,” did not hold back during a Twitch livestream Monday, in which he responded to the news: “Yeah, it’s disgusting, right? What a f—n’ assh—.”
The band Haim, who opened for Swift during select stops on her 1989 World Tour, posted a screenshot of Swift’s Tumblr post to their Instagram story with the caption, “Read this. We support you @taylorswift. This is the dark sh— in our industry that no one sees.”
Kahn, who has directed several of Swift’s music videos, including “Bad Blood,” “Wildest Dreams,” “Blank Space,” “Out of the Woods,” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” posted a few messages of support for the singer on his Twitter. “I feel terrible for Taylor. This is the record business at it’s most ruthless and shady,” he wrote. “She is genuinely one of the nicest people ever and does not deserve this. She should own her work. These people are soulless.”
Singer JoJo, current Bachelorette Hannah Brown, and Kelsea Ballerini also shared brief shows of support for the singer on their Twitter accounts.
Not everyone is Team Taylor, though. Plenty of people — including famous clients and Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta — have come to Braun’s defense.
In the Instagram post read ’round the world, Bieber defended Braun, his longtime manager. First, though, he apologized for posting a “distasteful and insensitive” Instagram diss aimed at Swift years ago. “As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on Scooter isn’t fair,” he continued. “What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? Seems to me like it was to get sympathy [you] also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully Scooter.”
He added, “I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and forth online I dont believe solves anything. I’m sure Scooter and I would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or any feelings that need to be addressed. Neither scooter or I have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone I love’s character that’s crossing a line.”
Perhaps the biggest rebuttal to Swift’s claims came by way of the founder of her former record label, who posted a lengthy letter responding to her on Sunday, complete with screenshots. Borchetta — who signed Swift to his record label when she was just 14 — says he texted the singer the night before the news of Braun’s acquisition of Big Machine broke, despite the fact she says she had no prior knowledge of the sale. He also claims that in the label’s last official offer to Swift, all her masters would have been given to her in exchange for a 10-year contract. He also defended Braun’s character, writing, “Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor. He called me directly about Manchester to see if Taylor would participate (she declined). He called me directly to see if Taylor wanted to participate in the Parkland March (she declined). Scooter has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music.” Borchetta’s post can be read in full here.
On Tuesday, Swift’s attorney Donald Passman denied that Borchetta gave Swift a chance to previously buy her masters outright. “Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others,” Passman said.
Singer Demi Lovato, who signed with Braun in May, proved her loyalty to her new manager with a post to her Instagram stories. “I have dealt with bad people in the industry and Scooter is not one of them. He’s a good man. Personally, I’m grateful he came into my life when he did. Please stop ‘dragging’ people or bullying them. There’s enough hate in this world as it is,” she wrote, adding, “Y’all can come after me all you want but I’m always gonna stay loyal to my team. I value loyalty more than most people in this world and if my name is gonna be brought into conversations I’m gonna stand up for myself and the ones on my team.”
The singer, who is not managed by Braun, took to Twitter to post some words of encouragement for him. “You’re a good kind man @scooterbraun. I hope this passes quickly. I love you keep going,” she wrote.
Yael Cohen Braun
Scooter Braun’s wife stood up for him in a long Instagram post of her own. “I have never been one for a public airing of laundry, but when you attack my husband…here we go,” she wrote, before slamming Swift and challenging some of her claims. “Girl, who are you to talk about bullying? The world has watched you collect and drop friend like wilted flowers. My husband is anything but a bully, he’s spent his life standing up for people and causes he believes in,” she said. Read her full post below.
Swift’s rep later responded to Yael Cohen Braun’s claims that the singer’s father is on the Big Machine board of directors and was therefore notified 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 also addressed Borchetta’s claims that he texted the singer ahead of time. “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.