UPDATE SATURDAY PM: Big Machine Label Group’s Nashville headquarters closed early on Friday, allegedly because of death threats made to staff.
Entertainment Tonight reported that the label closed its offices at 12:30 PM after employees received “direct and hostile death threats.”
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Update Friday, throughout Taylor Swift, says former label Big Machine, is enlisting “her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.”
Nah, responds Swift’s camp, Big Machine is just “trying to deflect” away from the $7.9 million Taylor claims are owed her in unpaid royalties.
The brickbats and accusations continued today in the latest chapter of the Taylor Swift-Big Machine feud that kicked off last night when Swift published to her social media channels claims that her planned appearance on the Nov. 24 American Music Awards and the production of a new Netflix documentary on her career may both be put on hold due to legal threats made by Big Machine.
(See the actual social media correspondence below; Also, read the many responses from Swift’s celebrity friends – and others – taking sides, below.)
“As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade,” starts a statement from Big Machine released today, “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.”
The statement continues:
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.
–Big Machine Label Group
Swift’s team responded:
The truth is, on October 28, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group sent Taylor Swift’s team the following:
“‘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 performed at the Double Eleven in China last week.]
To avoid an argument over rights, Taylor performed three songs off her new album ‘Lover’ at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement. In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.
Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”
Last night, Swift said she was “planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the (AMA) show. (Label executives) Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.
“Additionally — and this isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
Swift has been bitter about not being able to buy back her early albums and other rights before they were acquired by Big Machine Records, something the company denies. The squabble has taken on a tit-for-tat quality, with both sides lobbing grenades at each other and denying claims by the other side.
Swift wrote, “Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.”
Swift also asked fans to fight for her, and issued a plea to fellow artists managed by Braun, which include Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber. She also asked Big Machine investors The Carlyle Group to intervene.
If the situation isn’t resolved, Swift threatened to wipe most of her planned schedule.
“Right now, my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.”
Here is a sampling of social media responses to the back-and-forth:
Yes actually – @taylorswift13 knows exactly what to do- starting with NOT getting run over by BIG MACHINE. These boys might own her songs, but they certainly don’t own her voice. https://t.co/4OO3lrg4uA
— Stephanie Ruhle (@SRuhle) November 15, 2019
One of the most toxic forms of feminism I’ve ever seen. Using angry fans who don’t know how business works to apply pressure to people who are under no contractual obligation to let you use what was SOLD to them. Once a 🐍. Always a 🐍#TeamScooter
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) November 15, 2019
Scott and Scooter, you know what the right thing to do is 🙏🙏
Taylor and her fans deserve to celebrate the music!!
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) November 15, 2019
— LILY ALLEN 2.0 (@lilyallen) November 15, 2019
— Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) November 15, 2019
I’m a little confused because once a song is released, as long as the writer and publisher are compensated according to the law, anyone can perform it. Even the original artist. https://t.co/zUwKLCVIwo
— Richard Marx (@richardmarx) November 15, 2019
Big Machine Label Group Statementhttps://t.co/bIdnx4GVbm
— Big Machine Label Group (@BigMachine) November 15, 2019
Statement regarding Big Machine pic.twitter.com/9ZhjE1ntHe
— Tree Paine (@treepaine) November 15, 2019
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
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