Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone
Story by Elizabeth Juengling/Contributing Writer
Taylor Swift is making waves online after calling Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun out for the second time this year. For those of you either A, don’t know what this means, or B, absolutely know what this means and want to hear every single detail, this breakdown is for you. So buckle your seat belts– this is a wild ride.
Swift initially addressed Borchetta, the owner of her former label, Big Machine Records, and Braun, super-manager of artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, on June 30, 2019. In a statement on tumblr she revealed that Braun had purchased all of her masters from Big Machine through his company Ithaca Holdings, LLC for 300 million dollars.
Swift claimed that she knew her masters were going to be sold shortly after she left Big Machine and signed with Universal Music Group. She did not know, however, that Braun would be the buyer. Swift saw this transaction as a stab in the back, claiming in her tumblr post, “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.”
After this exposé, many celebrities took to the internet with their thoughts. Bieber wrote on Instagram, “Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you!… 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.”
However, stars like Halsey, Kelly Clarkson, Todrick Hall and more defended Taylor. Halsey said on twitter, “It turns my guts that no matter how much power or success a woman has in this life, you are still susceptible to someone coming along and making you feel powerless out of spite.”
— h (@halsey) June 30, 2019
Braun’s wife, Yael Cohen, joined the row via Instagram. She claimed, “Let’s get the facts straight. You were given the opportunity to purchase your masters, you passed.”
However, Swift’s attorney Don Passman disputed this claim in a statement on July 2, 2019. He said, “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.”
Swift had a plan for her creative works, which she revealed on CBS This Morning on Aug. 25, 2019. Swift said she plans to re-record all six studio albums that were under Big Machine Records. Swift can only do this once the re-record restriction expires.
This re-record restriction is the catalyst for the recent drama online involving Swift, Borchetta and Braun which started on Nov. 14, 2019.
Swift took to social media to explain that Borchetta and Braun are not allowing her to perform her songs in a medley for her Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards. According to Swift, Borchetta and Braun claim that performing the old songs on television would violate the re-recording clause.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
Swift also revealed that a Netflix documentary about the past few years of her life is in the works. She claimed that Borchetta and Braun also denied the use of her older music and performance footage in the documentary.
Allegedly, Borchetta tried to strike a deal with Swift in which she could use her music but only if she agreed not to re-record copy-cat versions of her studio album and to stop talking about Borchetta and Braun.
In regards to the copy-cat idea, Swift claimed that it is “something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to.”
She said that this “deal” is sending a clear message to her, “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
Swift finished her statement by saying that addressing these issues should bring awareness to what other artists are facing. She then asked her fans and other artists to “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.”
This statement led to a frenzy online. Celebrities are picking sides and fans are going to the extreme. Artists like Halsey, Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello showed their support. Even presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren supported Swift on Twitter.
You shouldn’t have to live in fear of protecting yourself from the people who are supposed to be on your side. And most young, wide eyed artists, don’t have the foresight to think they will need to. And it’s sad they would ever need to..
— h (@halsey) November 15, 2019
Unfortunately, @TaylorSwift13 is one of many whose work has been threatened by a private equity firm. They're gobbling up more and more of our economy, costing jobs and crushing entire industries. It's time to rein in private equity firms—and I've got a plan for that. https://t.co/r2UD4CT1Ba
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 16, 2019
Many fans participated in the doxxing of Big Machine employees and those close to Borchetta and Braun. Big Machine Records, located in Nashville, shut down the location at 12:30 p.m. on Nov 14, 2019 due to “direct and hostile death threats.”
Late Friday night, Big Machine released a response to Swift claiming, “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special.” The statement went on to address some financial disputes. Big Machine said, “The truth is, 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.”
Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, responded: “Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.”
She also denied the financial issues, stating “Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties.”
This is a complicated game if he-said-she-said that is playing out on a very public forum. Many experts have come forward in regards to all of the statements. Many specialists on the issues of entertainment intellectual property are saying that Big Machine can claim that a televised performance would be re-recording but that most people don’t use the re-record clause that way.
In an article with Vulture, Tiffany Almy, an attorney at Rothenberg, Mohr & Binder, LLP, said, “[It] seems counterintuitive, especially where the artist is the recipient of the award being presented and the promotional value of such a performance is mutually beneficial to both the label and the artist.”
The use of the masters in the Netflix documentary is more clean cut. Almy further explained that “Swift would have to be the one to approve their sync usage, not the other way around.” The reference to a “sync usage” is in regards to a synchronization license, which allows music to be used in a motion picture.
In a statement to TMZ, Big Machine claimed, “Taylor Swift can 100% perform all of her catalog, past and present, on the AMAs… Our confusion with her statement is that we have no legal right to stop this.”
Swift will be performing and receiving the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, 2019. It is unclear at this point whether she will be performing a medley of her old songs or not.
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