Earlier this year, Ithaca Holdings, the company owned by the high-powered music manager Scooter Braun, bought the Big Machine Label Group, the label that released Taylor Swift’s first six albums. That meant that Braun now owned all those Taylor Swift master recordings and that Swift herself would have no chance to acquire them herself. Swift went public about this immediately, proclaiming herself “sad and grossed out” at this “worst case scenario.” Things haven’t gotten any more cordial since then.
In a social-media statement last week, Swift claimed that Braun and her former label boss Scott Borchetta were legally blocking her from performing her old songs at the American Music Awards, where she’s slated to win an Artist Of The Decade award, and that they had refused to clear those songs for use in a Netflix documentary about Swift. In that statement, Swift wrote, “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this,” thus activating her online fan army.
Yesterday, Scooter Braun responded. As People reports, Braun did a live Q&A at a State Of The Entertainment Industry conference. On the subject of Swift, Braun said, “I just think we live in a time with toxic division and people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations… I’m not going to participate.” Then he decided to participate.
Hours after doing that Q&A, Braun posted an Instagram statement claiming that he and his family had been getting death threats from Swift’s fans and asking Swift to come speak directly to him: “I will make myself available whenever works for you. Many have told me that a meeting will never happen as this is not about truth or resolution but instead a narrative for you. I am hopeful that is not the case.” He also included a screengrab of what looked like a Twitter user threatening his children. Addressing the open-letter statement to Swift, Braun wrote:
Since your public statement last week there have been numerous death threats directed at my family. This morning I spoke out for the first time saying I wouldn’t participate in a social media war. However I came home tonight to find my wife had received a phone call threatening the safety of our children as well as the other threats seen above. I won’t go into the details of this past week. I have been at a loss. Thinking of my wife and children, my team and their families, I have gone through a range of emotions on how to deal with this. I write this now only after a deep breathe and much reflection. I am certain there is no situation ever worth jeopardizing anyone’s safety.
I assume this was not your intention but it is important that you understand that your words carry a tremendous amount of weight and that your intentions can be interpreted by some in different ways. While disappointed that you have remained silent after being notified by your attorney 4 days ago of these ongoing threats, I’m still hopeful we can fix this.
We are living in a time of pointless violence and as a husband and father I am concerned.
This is a world filled with toxic division where people express their emotions over social media instead of having conversations in person. I want no part in that. To be frank I was shocked and disheartened to hear that my presence in the Big Machine deal caused you so much pain as the handful of times we have actually met I have always remembered them to be pleasant and respectful. Knowing what I now know all I have wanted to do is rectify the situation. I’m open to ALL possibilities. My attempts and calls to have an open discussion with you over the last 6 months have all been rejected. While some on our team and many of our mutual friends have tried to get you to the table, all have had no luck. It almost feels as if you have no interest in ever resolving the conflict. At this point with safety becoming a concern I have no choice other than to publicly ask for us to come together and try to find a resolution. I have tried repeatedly through your representatives to achieve a solution but unfortunately here we are. The game of telephone isn’t working.
While I am frustrated with your accusations and respectfully disagree with many of your statements, it is important that I am clear — no artist should ever feel cornered or bullied. I have spent my entire career in service of creatives and artists, never the other way around.
As the world now knows you can and should perform any songs you would like at the AMAs. I have never and would never say otherwise. You do not need anyone’s permission to do so legally but I am stating it here clearly and publicly so there is no more debate or confusion.
Moving forward I would like to find a resolution. I’m right here, ready to speak directly and respectfully. But if you would prefer to make large public statements while refusing to work towards resolving things amicably then I just pray that nobody gets seriously hurt in the process. I continue to wish you the best and hope we can resolve this.