Earlier today it was announced that music mogul Scooter Braun had acquired Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group for a reported $300 million dollars. The deal includes the ownership of Taylor Swift’s master recordings for records released under Big Machine Records (which amounts to Swift’s first six studio albums).
Swift has now responded to the news with a blistering note posted to social media. “I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world,” the pop star wrote. “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
Swift went on to cite several past negative experiences with Braun: “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together [Kanye West and Justin Bieber] 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.”
“This is my worst case scenario,” Swift added. “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.”
Last last year, in advance of her latest album Lover, Swift left big Machine Records and signed with Republic Records/Universal Music Group. She said prior to leaving, “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.”
“When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them,” Swift continued. “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.”
“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.”
Read Swift’s full note below. As of publication, Braun has yet to address Swift’s comments.
Update: Justin Bieber has responded to Swift. In a post to Instagram, Bieber defended his longtime manager, Braun, while also questioning Swift’s decision to comment publicly about the situation.
Update #2: In her own social media retort, Braun’s wife, Yael Cohen Braun, disputed Swift’s insinuation that she was never given an opportunity to purchase her masters. She also maintained that the pop singer was well aware of the transaction prior to today’s announcement, as Swift’s father, a shareholder of Swift’s former label Big Machine Records, was involved in the negotiations.