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Big Machine Label Group founder, president and CEO Scott Borchetta penned a letter to the company’s artists, songwriters, producers, managers, staff and partners announcing its $300 million acquisition by Scooter Braun and The Carlyle Group’s Ithaca Holdings, sources have shared with Billboard.
The full text of the Sunday letter lists some of the company’s monumental successes, including 65 million in global album sales, dozens of awards and its shepherding of such superstars as Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert. Borchetta also characterized the company as a pioneer in artist compensation, “including being the first-ever American label to align with terrestrial radio for performance rights.”
Borchetta noted in the letter he will continue as president and CEO of Big Machine and stated he is now a board member for Ithaca Holdings as well as a “significant, but minority” shareholder in the company. He additionally wrote that Big Machine will maintain “complete” autonomy under the terms of the agreement and that no staff changes will be implemented in the wake of the deal.
Hanging over news of the acquisition is Swift’s unhappiness with the deal. In a viral Tumblr post, she wrote Sunday that she did not find out about the deal—- which included the sale of masters for her first six albums — until it was announced and expressed her disgust with the involvement of Braun, whom she accused of “incessant, manipulative bullying” for years.
Swift additionally alleged she had “pleaded” for a chance to own her work for years but that Big Machine instead attempted to make her “earn” back her albums one at a time under the terms of a new deal with the label that she ultimately walked away from (she eventually signed a global deal with Universal Music Group in November). Borchetta responded by refuting Swift’s allegations in a missive posted to Big Machine’s website Sunday night, asserting that he had texted Swift to inform her about the Ithaca deal prior to the announcement. He also claimed that under the terms of the Big Machine deal Swift ultimately walked away from, the company would have “immediately” transferred “100 percent” of her assets back to her (a claim that appears to be backed up by documents executed during negotiations).
You can read Borchetta’s full letter announcing the acquisition below.
Back in 2004, when the insane desires I had to start my own record company took hold and I made the decision to jump out of the Universal Music Group, the goal was always to become much more than a record company, it was to become an entertainment company. As we built the label group up and up and up, we achieved some monumental accomplishments:
In its nearly 14 year history, the Big Machine Label Group has:
– Released nearly 200 albums that have achieved over 65 million in global sales
– Taken 118 songs to the top of the charts, arguably changing the sound of Country Music in the 21st Century
– Seen our artists win every award imaginable, highlighted by two all-genre Album of the Year Grammy® awards, and dozens more Grammy, CMA, AMA, ACM & CMT awards
– Launched and built the careers of heavy metal-certified superstars Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Brett Young and more
– Helped iconic artists reimagine their careers and find new levels of success and artistic achievement, including Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum
– Stood for Artist-First key principles of artist compensation, including being the first-ever American label to align with terrestrial radio for performance rights, believing not only that Music Has Value, but what artists create — and how we help support them throughout the process — matters.
When we started with three artists, 13 employees and a dream, it was about how do we create a new way to rock the music. Now, over 100 employees strong across the globe, international tv and film endeavors, various collaborative alliances and another crop of groundbreaking young acts about to launch, we have never been stronger or more integrated as a team or more able to fly.
Today, I am proud to announce that I have entered into a merger & acquisition agreement with Ithaca Holdings, whose main stakeholders are Scooter Braun and The Carlyle Group.
I will continue as President & CEO of the Big Machine Label Group… and I’m more fired up than ever!
I am now a Board Member for Ithaca Holdings and I am a significant, but minority, shareholder in the company.
We are now part of the same company that manages Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato & J Balvin just to name a few. We have more TV, film, branding and tech opportunities than I ever thought possible.
The Big Machine Label Group will continue to operate at full power in our current image and completely autonomous in my agreement with the new entity. There will not be any staff changes.
Are we still an independent record company? You better believe it!
We remain one of the world’s largest independent record companies… and, now, we’re only going to get bigger as we target more and more global opportunities.
For all of you who have been involved in any way with the building of this Big Machine, I sincerely thank you and I invite all of you to celebrate this day.
A new era begins….
Big Machine Label Group
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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