Taylor Swift released a statement yesterday (November 14) accusing Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Label Group, and Scooter Braun—who bought the company in June—of restricting the use of music from her first six albums on television. Now, the label group has responded, claiming “the narrative [Swift has] created does not exist.” According to the statement, “Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, [the label has] 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.”
“We were shocked to see [Swift’s] Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information,” the statement reads. “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.”
Contrary to the implication here, Swift’s Tumblr post did not claim Big Machine blocked the performance or documentary, only that neither could feature her old music. (Pitchfork has requested clarification on whether Big Machine Label Group disputes this.) In a statement issued later this morning (November 15), Swift’s spokeswoman noted this discrepancy, saying: “In Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.”
Big Machine Label Group’s statement goes on to say Swift owes “millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career.” It claims the label was, until yesterday, optimistic that it would resolve their disputes. Instead, it goes on, Swift “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.”
The last sentence refers to Swift’s encouragement of fans to tell the men “how you feel about this.” She also invited fans to ask Braun’s artists—Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, J Balvin, and Demi Lovato, among them—for help. Swift’s hope, she said, was that these artists might “talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
The label concludes by asserting that it shares “the collective goal of giving [Swift’s] fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”
The response from Swift’s spokewoman includes an email she attributes to Big Machine Label Group’s vice president of rights management and business affairs. The email states that the label “will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions” in connection with the Netflix documentary. It also denies licenses for her to perform her old songs at Alibaba’s Double Eleven, a televised event in Shanghai. (In the end, she exclusively performed tracks from Lover.) Swift’s spokeswoman then claims Borchetta “flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix” in a separate email yesterday.
Swift’s spokeswoman concludes by claiming that, contrary to the label group’s claim Swift owes them “millions of dollars,” the opposite is true. “An independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years,” she writes.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in via Twitter Friday afternoon, connecting Swift’s legal fight for her own music to other industries’ struggles with private-equity buyouts. “They need to be reigned in,” she wrote.
Additionally, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren posted her own statement via Twitter on Saturday (November 16) in support of Swift. “Unfortunately, @TaylorSwift13 is one of many whose work has been threatened by a private equity firm,” Warren tweeted. “They’re gobbling up more and more of our economy, costing jobs and crushing entire industries. It’s time to rein in private equity firms—and I’ve got a plan for that.” Find Ocasio-Cortez’s and Warren’s posts below.
This article was originally published on Friday, November 15 at 9:16 a.m. Eastern. It was last updated on November 17 at 11:50 p.m. Eastern.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork