Big Machine denies blocking Taylor Swift's music use, 'shocked' by singer's claims
Swift's camp has further responded to her former record label's latest statement.
Taylor Swift’s former record label has denied the pop star’s claims that it has blocked the use of her music.
After the 29-year-old alleged Thursday in a lengthy social media post that Big Machine Records — run by Scott Borchetta and new partner Scooter Braun — attempted to thwart plans for her planned retrospective performance at the upcoming American Music Awards as well as denying usage of her past recordings for a Netflix documentary about her life, the label issued a statement indicating shock over the singer spreading what it calls “false information.”
“At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere,” the statement, posted Friday on the label’s website, reads. “Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.”
The label goes on to allege that “Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career,” and that its representatives have “worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward.”
“We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. However, despite our persistent efforts to find a private and mutually satisfactory solution, Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families,” the statement continues. “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation. When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side. To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumors fester in the absence of communication. Let’s not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”
In response to Big Machine’s comments, a spokeswoman for Swift provided the following statement to EW, which stresses that the label’s response doesn’t “deny either claim” Swift made Thursday:
“The truth is, on October 28, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group sent Taylor Swift’s team the following: ‘Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects: The Netflix documentary and The Alibaba Double Eleven event.'”
The statement continues that, in an attempt to avoid “an argument over rights,” Swift chose to sing three songs from her latest album, Lover, at the Double Eleven event, “as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement.”
Regarding Big Machine’s stance that Swift owes money to her former label, the statement calls such claims an attempt to “deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them,” and that instead “an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”
On Thursday evening, Swift called Borchetta and Braun’s alleged actions an exercise in “tyrannical control” over her old music by blocking her performance at the Nov. 24 AMAs, where she will be honored with an Artist of the Decade award. Swift wrote that the pair feel the performance “would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”
In June, Swift expressed outrage over Braun — who manages artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato — purchasing rights to her masters after he acquired Big Machine Label Group. She later called the move the “worst case scenario,” which sparked an industry-wide conversation about music ownership as well as a lengthy back-and-forth between the singer, Braun, and their various supporters.
Late last year, Swift left Big Machine — the label that released her first six albums, dating back to her self-titled debut in 2006 — to sign a new deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Terms of the resigning apparently allow for Swift to begin re-recording her back catalog of music (which she has expressed interest in doing) as early as November 2020.
Swift concluded her Thursday evening post by encouraging fans to “let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this” before suggesting her followers ask Braun’s roster of clients to help “talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
Shortly after Swift’s statement went live, the hashtag #IStandWithTaylor began trending on Twitter, while the singer’s fans stormed the social media accounts of Braun, Grande, Lovato, and more with comments.
Representatives for Netflix, the AMAs, and Braun have yet to respond to EW’s request for comment.