Taylor Swift Label Drama Entangles Demi Lovato, Todrick Hall, & Kacey Musgraves

Yesterday brought the news that Scooter Braun had bought Taylor Swift’s back catalog, and that Taylor Swift was not happy about it. In a $300 million deal, Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group, giving him the rights to Swift’s entire back catalog, from her 2006 self-titled album through 2017’s Reputation. That story has since grown.

In a Tumblr post, Swift called this deal her “worst case scenario,” writing that Big Machine would only grant her her own masters if she signed a long-term deal with them. And Swift also wrote about her history with Braun, the big-time music-industry player who once managed her old nemesis Kanye West: “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun’s] hands for years.” In response, Justin Bieber, a client of Braun, posted on Instagram, attempting to convince Swift that Braun is not a malignant force: “For you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter.”

Since then, more music-industry figures have weighed in, taking sides with either Swift or Braun. Yashar Ali, a New York and Huffington Post writer, has been all over the story, keeping track of all the developments in this Twitter thread. One of the first to leap to Braun’s defense was his wife Yael Cohen Braun, who posted a long Instagram message to Swift:

You were given the opportunity to own your masters, you passed. Interesting that the man you’re so “grossed out” by believed in you more than you believe in yourself…

And girl, who are you to talk about bullying? The world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers. My husband is anything but a bully, he’s spent his life standing up for people and causes he believes in…

Scott (Scooter) was so excited to work and build with you. How embarrassing this temper tantrum is because you didn’t get your own way.

As Ali points out, Kacey Musgraves clicked “like” on it:

Braun’s friend David Grutman congratulated Braun and objectified Swift in a since-deleted Instagram story that read, “WHEN YOUR FRIEND BUYS TAYLOR SWIFT.” Braun re-posted the story and later took it down, but a Swift fan shared a screenshot of the post.

Meanwhile, Todrick Hall, the singer who recently starred in Swift’s “You Need To Calm Down” video, is firmly on Swift’s side. Hall, a former, Braun client, tweeted angrily about Braun: “[Braun] is an evil person who’s only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego. I believe he is homophobic & I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.”

Allison Scarinzi, one of Braun’s employees, responded to Hall, saying that the Braun had dropped him because he was stealing from his fans:

Hall responded with a screenshot of the email where he apparently fired Braun:

Demi Lovato, a Braun client as of May, has posted about her new manager on her Instagram story, calling him “a good man” and adding, “Please stop ‘dragging’ people or bullying them.” And she’s responded to Hall’s Instagram, denying Hall’s claim that Braun is homophobic.

On Twitter, Hall responded to Lovato:

There’s also a comment from Cara Delevingne, the actress and model who has previously been associated with Swift’s “squad.” Bieber followed up his defense of Braun with another post that began as an apology to Swift and ended as another defense of Braun. This inspired Bieber’s wife, Hailey Bieber, to call him a “gentleman” in the comments. Delevingne had this to say about it:

Gentleman? @haileybieber @justinbieber you must be bored. I wish you spent less time sticking up for men and more time trying to understand women and respecting their valid reactions. As a married man, you should be lifting women up instead of tearing them down because you are threatened. I am not sure you understand what an apology is. The issue that @taylorswift is talking out is about far more than a picture and you know that. As you said, you haven’t spoken to her in years which means you definitely don’t understand the situation. I do. Take a step back and try to learn from this. We should all be on the same team. End of story 😘

In a video message, Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie — who duets with Swift on her recent single “ME!” — has also sounded off, taking Swift’s side and calling everyone involved in the Big Machine deal “a piece of shit.”

Finally, Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine, has posted a long statement on the label’s website. He claims that he told Swift about the deal with Braun beforehand and that Swift’s father is a shareholder in Big Machine. He writes, “Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor” and adds that Swift passed on a couple of Braun’s offers to take part in charity events. And he’s also shared screenshots of the contract that he offered Swift for the rights to her masters. Here’s the full text of his statement:

So, it’s time for some truth…

In regard to a post earlier today from Taylor, it’s time to set some things straight.

Taylor’s dad, Scott Swift, was a shareholder in Big Machine Records, LLC. We first alerted all of the shareholders on Thursday, June 20th for an official shareholder’s call scheduled for Tuesday, June 25th. On the 6/25 call the shareholders were made aware of the pending deal with Ithaca Holdings and had 3 days to go over all of the details of the proposed transaction. We then had a final call on Friday, June 28th in which the transaction passed with a majority vote and 3 of the 5 shareholders voting ‘yes’ with 92% of the shareholder’s vote.

Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06pm, Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me.

I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days. I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text. But, I truly doubt that she “woke up to the news when everyone else did”.

I am attaching a few very important deal points in what was part of our official last offer to Taylor Swift to remain at Big Machine Records. Her 13 Management team and attorney Don Passman went over this document in great detail and reported the terms to her in great detail.

Taylor and I then talked through the deal together.

As you will read, 100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement. We were working together on a new type of deal for our new streaming world that was not necessarily tied to ‘albums’ but more of a length of time.

We are an independent record company. We do not have tens of thousands of artists and recordings. My offer to Taylor, for the size of our company, was extraordinary. But it was also all I could offer as I am responsible for dozens of artists’ careers and over 120 executives and their families.

Taylor and I remained on very good terms when she told me she wanted to speak with other record companies and see what was out there for her. I never got in her way and wished her well.

The morning that the new Taylor/UMG announcement was going to be made, she texted me shortly before letting me know that the announcement was coming in a few minutes.

As we both posted on our socials, we saluted each other and cheered each other on.

Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave.

As to her comments about ‘being in tears or close to it’ anytime my new partner Scooter Braun’s name was brought up, I certainly never experienced that. Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber? Yes. But there were also times where Taylor knew that I was close to Scooter and that Scooter was a very good source of information for upcoming album releases, tours, etc, and I’d reach out to him for information on our behalf. Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor. He called me directly about Manchester to see if Taylor would participate (she declined).

He called me directly to see if Taylor wanted to participate in the Parkland March (she declined). Scooter has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music.

This is the text Taylor sent to me on Monday, November 19th at 8:57am:

Scott,

I hope this finds you well. Since communication ran dry on our negotiations, I’ve done what I told you I would do and gone out exploring other options. Owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture. I had a choice whether to bet on my past or to bet on the future and I think knowing me, you can guess which one I chose. I also saw a rare opportunity to effect positive change for a lot of other artists with the leverage I have right now. I know you believe in the same things I do and I’d like to think you would be proud of what I’ve negotiated for in my deal. I wanted to tell you first that I’ll be signing with Lucian. I honestly truly cherish everything you and I have built together and I plan on saying so in my announcement of the new deal. What we accomplished together will be a lasting legacy and a case study on excellent partnerships, and may it continue. I still view you as a partner and friend and I hope you feel the same. Sending you a hug and my most sincere gratitude.

And SO much love,

Taylor

Here is the text I sent on the evening of June 29 at 9:05pm:

Dear Taylor,

Hope all is well and congratulations on the success of your first two singles from “Lover”!

I can’t wait to hear the entire album…

I wanted to pass along to you the same courtesy that you passed along to me in regard to my future.

Tomorrow morning (Sunday, June 30th) at 10a central, the Wall Street Journal will announce that I am entering into a merger/acquisition with Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings. This move will give us more pop culture super-power than ever before and I’m so excited about the future.

I want you to know that I will continue to be the proud custodian of your previous works and will continue to keep you and your team abreast of all future plans for releases of you work.

Nothing but the best,

Scott

And, that’s the truth…

Scott Borchetta

You can see those screenshots at the Big Machine website. All of this happened last night, so this story is still raging and presumably will be for a long time.

UPDATE: On Tuesday (7/2) Taylor Swift’s attorney released a statement disputing the former label boss’ claims: “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.”