It all started back in June, with a Tumblr post, of all things.
Taylor Swift—chanteuse, actor, icon—announced on the ailing social media site that uber-manager Scooter Braun, and Swift’s former label head, Scott Borchetta, had conspired against her. Braun, whom Swift also accuses of past bullying behavior, acquired Big Machine Records from Borchetta and thus came to own the master recordings of Swift’s first six smash albums. (Swift had signed a contract at age 15 that locked her into a six-album deal and gave away the rights to her own masters.) Pretty soon, the whole thing spiraled out into a big mess across social media, with Swift’s squad and her extremely vocal fans defending her, and Braun’s high-profile clients and his wife Yael Cohen Braun defending him. Eventually, it all died down, or at least it all boiled over into the launch cycle for Taylor Swift’s 2019 album, Lover.
Except, of course, that wasn’t the end at all.
On Thursday night, Swift update the world on the feud around the rights to her songs and upgraded her social media platform (slightly) from Tumblr to Twitter.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
The artist claims that Borchetta and Braun have forbidden her from performing music from her first six albums at the American Music Awards, which airs later this month and where Swift will be crowned with the Artist of the Decade award. The reason that the pair allegedly gave Swift is a stipulation in her contract against “re-recording” the music before she is legally allowed to do so in 2020.
The lengthy screenshot tweet contains a number of other nefarious accusations, including that the pair refuse to allow any of her old music on an upcoming Netflix documentary about Swift and that Borchetta will only allow Swift to use her own music if she stops badmouthing him and Braun and reconsiders her previously stated plans to rerecord her first six albums in 2020.
As Variety reports, Big Machine Records has pushed back against Swift’s claims, issuing a rebuttal statement on Friday morning.
“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.”
The last part of the statement refers to a section in Swift’s tweet in which she encourages her religiously devoted fans to “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.”
A quick look over at Scooter Braun’s Instagram reveals that fans are already letting him know how they feel. Unfortunately, Braun’s most recent post is a tribute to a friend who died of cancer, and there are several Swifties in the comments with messages like “i hate u !!!” and “DUDE JUST GIVE HER SONGS BACK! TF IS WRONG WITH U” and “????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????.”
Have Braun and Borchetta privately manipulated Swift in such a way to make her seem less sympathetic in public? Are they lying? Could any of this be a misunderstanding?
This story feels far from over.
In the meantime, please enjoy Taylor Swift’s brand new single from the Cats soundtrack, which coincidentally also dropped on Thursday night.