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More than a year after Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group — and with it, the entire catalog Taylor Swift released via the Scott Borchetta-owned label — in a $300 million deal, Braun has sold the master rights to the singer’s first six albums.
In a statement, Swift explained that her team “attempted to enter into negotiations” with Braun prior to the new sale.
“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),” she wrote. “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.”
Swift went on to state that her team received a letter from private equity company Shamrock Holdings, which informed them that the company had bought all of her music, videos and album art from 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,” Swift wrote.
Swift said that in communicating with Shamrock, she learned that “under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off my old musical catalog for many years.” She added, “I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock, but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.”
Determined to own her music and undercut the controversial Ithaca-Big Machine deal she described as her “worst-case scenario,” Swift said that she would rerecord her entire back catalog in an August 2019 interview with Tracy Smith on CBS Sunday Morning.
Along with the update about the resale of her masters, Swift revealed she has now begun re-recording her older music. “It has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling,” she wrote, adding she has “plenty of surprises in store.”
Swift thanked her fans for supporting her amid the “ongoing saga.” She also shared the letter of response she sent on Oct. 28, 2020, to Shamrock for “transparency and clarification.”
Swift has been vocal about her issues with Braun many times in the past. Following the news of Borchetta and Braun’s deal last year, Swift took to Tumblr to reveal that she learned about it “as it was announced to the world” and the news reminded her of the “incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun’s] hands for years.” Borchetta responded to Swift’s statements in his own post, where he argued that Swift knew of the deal given her father, Scott Swift, was a shareholder in Big Machine and was notified on a shareholder call. Borchetta also argued that Swift and her attorney Don Passman reviewed the document and talked through the deal together.
“Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others,” Passman told The Hollywood Reporter about that aspect of the dispute.
The drama continued last November after Swift alleged that Borchetta and Braun refused to allow her to use her songs for her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, and to perform her older songs at the American Music Awards, where she was receiving the Artist of the Decade Award. Swift seemingly referenced the dispute in her performance, wearing a white outfit that resembled a prison uniform and featured the names of her seven studio albums in black block lettering (she has since released an eighth).
Following fan demands that Braun and Borchetta allow Swift to buy her masters back, including a Change.org petition that garnered more than 130,000 signatures, Braun asked for a resolution with the singer. “To be frank I was shocked and disheartened to hear that my presence in the Big Machine deal caused you so much pain as the handful of times we have actually met I have always remembered them to be pleasant and respectful,” Braun wrote to Swift on social media. “Knowing what I know now all I have wanted to do is rectify the situation.”
While receiving Billboard‘s first-ever Woman of the Decade honor, Swift further reiterated that supporters of Braun exemplified “the definition of the toxic male privilege in our industry.” “To say, ‘Well, he’s always been nice to me’ — of course he’s nice to you; if you’re in this room, you have something he needs.”
Since Braun’s deal, Swift has gone on to release two albums, Lover in 2019 and Folklore in 2020, which she fully owns. Swift’s Folklore was the first album to sell a million copies in the U.S. in 2020.
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