Taylor Swift has responded to news of the sale of her catalog by Scooter Braun to a private equity company, confirming that a deal went down in October with a firm revealed by her to be Shamrock Holdings — and that, as would be expected, she is deeply unhappy with the second sale of her master recordings without her consent or involvement in a year and a half.
Swift additionally declared that she has already embarked on re-recording her entire Big Machine catalog, as previously promised, with the hopes of having fans only listen to the music that she controls.
In detailed posts on Twitter, Swift says was alerted to the October sale by Shamrock Holdings itself, only after the deal had already gone through, when the company reached out with hopes of working with her on the catalog in the future. While Swift maintains that she was open to that, she quickly nixed any future collaboration when she learned that Braun will contractually continue to profit from her work, even after the sale.
As for whether she ever had a chance to place her own bid on her master recordings, as she has asserted for the last year and a half she should have the right to do, Swift revealed that Braun’s reps had let her know the catalog was for sale. But, Swift said, she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement stipulating that she would never again disparage Braun before even being allowed to examine Big Machine’s books or make an offer.
The singer’s Twitter statement said that “my team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun. Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature). So, I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work.”
She said negotiations never got underway, because of the strict NDA demands. “He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me,” she concluded.
Then, she wrote, “a few weeks ago my team received a letter from a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, letting us know that they had bought 100% of my music, videos, and album art from Scooter Braun. This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge. The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off.”
Before she learned that Braun would continue to profit from her catalog, “I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock” she said, “but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.”
Addressing her fans, Swift wrote, “I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling. I have plenty of surprises in store.”
Swift also attached to her tweet a copy of a letter she sent to Shamrock Holdings, dated Oct. 28.
“I feel the need to be very transparent with you,” she wrote Shamrock. “I will be going forward with my original re-recording schedule and will be embarking on that effort soon. I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefitting Scooter.”
Shamrock has issued a response. “Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalog,” the firm said in a statement. “We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered. We appreciate Taylor’s open communication and professionalism with us these last few weeks. We hope to partner with her in new ways moving forward and remain committed to investing with artists in their work.”
Earlier Monday, Variety broke the news that Braun had sold the master rights to Swift’s first six albums to a then-unknown investment fund in a deal believed to be north of $300 million. Swift, in her social media posts, was the first to reveal that Shamrock was the buyer.
Braun’s Ithica Holdings LLC Ithaca purchased the Nashville-based iBig Machine Label Group, founded by Scott Borchetta in 2005, in June 2019 for just over $300 million, of which Swift’s catalog was then believed to be worth some $140 million. The acquisition encompassed all aspects of BMLG’s business, including its client roster, distribution deals, publishing and owned artist masters. Swift signed with BMLG at the beginning of her career. Her contract with the label expired in fall 2018, after which she signed a deal for future recordings with Universal Music Group.
Now, Braun appears to have sold just Swift’s masters for roughly the amount that his firm spent acquiring the entire Big Machine Label Group less than a year and a half ago. Big Machine remains in the hands of Braun and Borchetta with a current roster that includes Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Tim McGraw and Lady A, the trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum.
In the wake of her Big Machine catalog coming under the control of Braun last year, Swift said she should have been allowed to bid on her master recordings and called Braun out as a “bully” and “the definition of toxic male privilege in our industry.” It was in 2019 that Swift first declared she would be re-recording the albums that now have transferred ownership to Shamrock. While the company will be free to make deals to sell or stream her recordings, it will be conjoined from licensing syncs and other forms of income with getting publishing rights for the songs, which Swift owns and clearly has no intention of granting Shamrock.
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