Taylor Swift has published a statement on social media claiming that Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun are preventing her from performing her old material live, including at her upcoming American Music Awards performance.
Earlier this year, Braun acquired Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group for a reported $300 million dollars. The deal included the ownership of the six albums Swift released under Big Machine Records. Swift previously expressed dismay over the transaction, calling it her “worst case scenario.” Now, in a Tumblr note titled “Don’t know what else to do,” Swift details the restrictions she’s allegedly been put through.
She begins by revealing her intention to play a career-spanning medley at next month’s American Music Awards, where she is being honored with the Artist of the Decade Award this year. However, according to Swift, “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”
Swift then reveals that Netflix has been creating a documentary about her “life for the past few years” in secret. Apparently Borchetta and Braun’s threats also apply to the documentary. “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film,” she writes.
Originally, Swift planned to reclaim her catalog by re-recording old songs — a smart move that’s also totally legal. As it turns out, the duo allegedly threatened her if she does decide take such a route. “Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun,” she writes. “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
Swift goes on to ask for help from her fans and from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of her music in the first place. Her line of thinking goes like this: Braun manages other artists, and fans could ask those artists to talk to Braun about this whole ordeal — essentially acting as a trusted friend or mediator who may be able to change his mind. That and, of course, they could apply some extra pressure and embarrassment.
“I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it,” she concludes. “I’ve tried to work this out privately through my team but have not been able to resolve anything. Right now my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark. I love you guys and I thought you should know what’s been going on.”
Update: In a statement responding to Swift, Big Machine Label Group denied that they’re preventing her from performing at the AMAs or blocking her Netflix special. “In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere,” the statement notes.
BMLG goes on contend that Swift “has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company,” which they had sought to resolve behind the scenes. “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.”
Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, subsequently tweeted a response to Big Machine, claiming that in their statement “they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.” Paine also says it’s the label, not Swift, who owes money: “An independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”
This is a new era for Taylor Swift where she doesn’t just talk about taking no shit, she walks the walk, too. This year has seen Swift vow to be more politically active, rip into “two-faced” Kanye West, and criticize Trump while saying she’s “obviously” pro-choice. She also performed the 2012 cut “All Too Well” at her Tiny Desk Concert, which may or may not have contributed to Borchetta and Braun’s revamped threats about filming old material. In other words, it’s been nice to see a mega-famous pop star take a stand for something that doesn’t always double as a financial bump.
Read Swift’s full statement about the matter on her Tumblr or in a series of Twitter screenshots below. Big Red Machine’s own response is pasted in full underneath.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on 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. 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 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. We 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.
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.
–Big Machine Label Group