The Swift / Borchetta / Braun beef continues. And now Taylor Swift is calling on both artists allied to and the financiers backing artist manager and music industry entrepreneur Scooter Braun to intervene on her behalf. Otherwise there’ll be no Swifty medley at the upcoming American Music Awards. And no Netflix documentary about her music making.
Swift, of course, went big with her beef when she found out that the owner of her former label Big Machine – Scott Borchetta – had sold his company and, with it, all her master recordings, to Braun’s Ithaca Holdings business. She said Borchetta’s decision to go into business with Ithaca was her “worst case scenario”, adding that her only experience of Braun to date was “the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years”.
The musician had left Big Machine by the time all this happened, signing to Universal Music, which released her most recent album. In her response to the Ithaca deal, the star revealed how, before signing to Universal, she’d been in talks about staying with Big Machine if she could get ownership of all the rights in all of her recordings that the label had put out to date. But those talks did not result in a deal, meaning she parted company which Borchetta’s firm, and the label retained the copyrights in all her records.
Borchetta hit back after Swift’s angry response to his big deal, disputing some of her claims, in particular about her being left in the dark about his Braun alliance until the very last minute. Meanwhile, some artists managed by Braun, in particular Justin Bieber, came to his defence. Other acts spoke out in support of Swift, including Kelly Clarkson, who suggested that her fellow pop star just re-record all the songs that had appeared on albums released by Big Machine.
Record deals usually anticipate artists going that route. And to that end, many record contracts ban artists from making new recordings of existing songs for a set period of time. Swift subsequently confirmed that such a restriction was in her record deal, but that she’d be able to start legally rerecording her earlier songs as of next year. And, she added, that’s what she was bloody well going to do.
Which brings us to the latest slice of beef. In a new post on Twitter, Swift claims that Borchetta and Braun are now seeking to block her upcoming appearance at the American Music Awards and a new Netflix documentary unless she agrees to not record new versions of her old songs. Oh, and she’d need to stop dissing Braun in public too.
She states: “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished. 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”.
Now, if Swift was to perform a medley of her old songs live at the upcoming AMAs, where she is due to pick up an Artist Of The Decade award, that would not actually exploit the recordings owned by Big Machine. The copyright in the songs is, of course, separate.
However, because the AMA is broadcast, the filming of the performance would constitute a new recording. And, Swift says, Big Machine argues that this isn’t allowed under the aforementioned restriction on making new recordings of old songs.
The Netflix documentary, meanwhile, seemingly wants to license in music and footage from Big Machine and the label is currently refusing. Causing the project to stall.
Seeking help from her fans, Swift went on: “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this”.
How would you do that? Well, she added, “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”.
And if that doesn’t work, let’s go after Braun’s investors. “I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group”, she confirmed, “who put up money for the sale of my music to these men”.
Concluding that she’s tried to settle this in private without success, she then tells her fans that this particular dispute could impact on any future event where she might be recorded singing her old songs. “I love you guys and I thought you should know what’s been going on”, she signs off.
We now await with interest to see if the Borchetta, or the Braun, or even the Bieber, responds.