Taylor Swift And Big Machine Exchange More Heated Words Over Performance Rights
Taylor Swift began a new chapter in her business dispute with music mogul Scooter Braun and Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta last night. In a Tumblr post, Swift said Borchetta, her former label head, and Braun, who purchased her masters along with the rest of Big Machine’s catalog for $300 million this year, were blocking her from performing her old songs in televised broadcasts.
Swift alleges that she was going to perform a medley of her hits upon accepting the Artist Of The Decade award at the American Music Awards next weekend, but that Borchetta told she’ll only get permission to perform the songs from her Big Machine albums (everything she released before 2017’s Reputation) if she agrees not to re-record “copycat” versions of her songs — something she supposedly intends to do — and to stop talking about Borchetta and Braun. Swift also alleged that the men were blocking her from including her old music in a new Netflix documentary about her life premiering next year. She asked her fans to help by letting the two men “know how you feel about this,” which inevitably set off a social media firestorm as Swifties inundated social networks with the #IStandWithTaylor hashtag.
This morning, Braun and Borchetta fired back with a statement claiming they are shocked at her claims and 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 Big Machine execs also claim they never asked Swift not to perform her older material at the AMAs, and that they don’t even have the legal right to impose such restrictions. Here is Big Machine Label Group’s statement:
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.
Swift responded with receipts, quoting official statements reading, “Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects: The Netflix documentary and the Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event.” Swift’s new statement points out that Big Machine never outright denies any of Swift’s allegations. Also, she says the label is attempting to make it look like she owes them money when in fact an auditor has determined Big Machine still owes her $7.9 million in unpaid royalties.