On Thursday afternoon, Taylor Swift dropped a major bombshell, claiming in Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts titled “Don’t know what else to do” that Big Machine label head Scott Borchetta and his new partner, Scooter Braun, are trying to stop her from her performing her Big Machine-era hits during an upcoming retrospective performance at the 2019 American Music Awards — where she is set to accept the first-ever Artist of the Decade award on Nov. 24.
Swift also claimed that Borchetta and Braun are denying the use of her recordings in an upcoming Netflix documentary about her career, and that they told her she could only use her old songs if she agreed to never re-record them and agreed to not publicly speak badly of Braun, Borchetta and Big Machine in the future.
Read her Swift’s statement in full below.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
“This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans… I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it. I’ve tried to work this out privately through my team but have not been able to resolve anything. Right now my performance at the AMAs, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark,” Swift wrote.
After laying out her case, Swift begged her fans to “let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.” She also asked her followers to reach out to Braun’s famous SB Projects clients — which, though not mentioned by name in her posts, include Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, J Balvin, Dan + Shay, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Zac Brown Band, Usher, Idina Menzel, David Guetta, Tori Kelly and Swift’s longtime nemesis, Kanye West.
“Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this — I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote,” said Swift. “I'm especially asking for help from the Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men."
While the above-mentioned, Braun-represented A-listers have, as of this writing, not yet responded, Big Machine released a statement on Friday morning addressing what it said were statements “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 statement, in part, read.
The label went on, saying, “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist,” and added, “to date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted.”
Many celebrities have rushed to Swift’s defense.
“Not only are we looking at an awful business move (because one would be incentivized to allow Taylor to perform her songs seeing as it would be direct to rediscovery of a catalog they currently profit off of???) but this is just mean,” Halsey posted in her Instagram stories. “This is punishment. This is helping to silence her from speaking about things by dangling this over her head. These people are protected because they inspire complicity with fear. Banking on the illusion that people will not stand up for her. That the world will say she’s overreacting. You’re barking up the wrong tree. It is her grace and patience in this moment make her the Artist of the Decade.”
“Scooter and Scott sold Carlyle Group on false premise: Taylor would cooperate on them buying her catalogue. She will not,” tweeted video director and frequent Swift collaborator Joseph Kahn. “This is a disaster for them. As businessmen they have to cut their losses and sell Taylor back her catalogue, otherwise it's negligence to their investors.”
“What a complete power pull @scooterbraun @scottborchetta. The way this industry is set up, there are times where we have to get legal permission to perform anything we share rights to. But denying access like this is solely to play with and diminish a person,” tweeted YouTube star Rebecca Black.
“The things that @scottborchetta + Scooter Braun are continuing to do to @taylorswift13 are not only wrong, they should be illegal! You ‘men’ should focus your sights on things other than bullying the Artist of this CENTURY. LEAVE TAYLOR ALONE. PERIODT,” posted former teen-pop singer and Voice contestant Jordan Pruitt.
“Solidarity with Taylor here, this sounds awful, and people wonder why music hasn’t had its #MeToo moment?” tweeted British pop star Lily Allen. “F*** that. We’re with you… It genuinely makes me sick to my stomach,” tweeted R&B singer Tinashe. “This makes me sooooo angry,” Swift squad member and viral video star Todrick Hall posted in his Instagram stories. “This is not OK,” posted Ruby Rose.
Swifties immediately made #IStandWithTaylor the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, while one fan, Jade Rossi, even started a petition on Change.org, calling on Borchetta, Braun and investment firm the Carlyle Group to stop “holding Taylor’s music hostage.” Rossi wrote: “Not allowing Taylor Swift to use her music in any projects is manipulative and power-hungry... [It] is gross and almost blackmail.” The petition racked up about 35,000 signatures in the first three hours following Swift’s shocking announcement.
This latest drama follows Braun’s acquisition of the catalog of Big Machine, Swfit’s former record label, in June. Back then, Swift took to social media to say it was her “worst case scenario” and claimed she had been unaware of the deal until the last minute. “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,” she wrote. (Borchetta countered, alleging that Swift knew about the deal beforehand and saying he had offered her a chance to earn back her masters, one album at a time — a deal she refused. Braun also said Swift’s accusations were “not based on any truth.”) At that time, Halsey, Cher, Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco, Iggy Azalea, Sky Ferreira, Danielle Haim of HAIM, Jack Antonoff and many other celebrities defended Swift on social media.
Swift is now signed to Republic Records, which released her seventh studio album, Lover, earlier this year. It will be interesting to see how this feud pans out, and how it will affect her upcoming AMAs appearance.
This story was originally published on Nov. 14, 2019 at 11:14 p.m. ET and has been updated with Big Machine’s comment.
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