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Taylor Swift, Scott Borchetta and More Battle Over Record Label Sale

Big Machine Label Group and Swift's first six masters were sold for over $300 million this weekend.

Taylor Swift, Scott Borchetta and More Battle Over Record Label Sale
Taylor Swift, Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage; Scott Borchetta, Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Spotify

Taylor Swift has ignited a firestorm of media attention after responding to news of her former record label’s sale with a strongly worded blog post, aiming a number of accusations at her former boss and the company’s new owner.

On Sunday morning (June 30), it was announced Swift’s former label — the Nashville based independent Big Machine Label Group — was being sold by founder Scott Borchetta to superstar artist manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. According to reports, the sale topped $300 million dollars, but more importantly to Swift, transfers ownership of her first six albums to Braun’s control. Swift left Big Machine in late 2018 to join Universal Music Group, and argues in a blog posted to Tumblr that she was not informed of the sale, that her decision to leave was based largely on the status of her masters and that she believes Braun is a bad actor within the industry.

“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift wrote. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in.”

https://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/185958366550/for-years-i-asked-pleaded-for-a-chance-to-own-my

Swift goes on to criticize Braun directly, calling out “incessant, manipulative bullying” tied to highly-publicized feuds with Braun’s clients Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

“Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” she writes. “This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept.”

Responding on the Big Machine website, Borchetta denies Swift’s claim that she was unaware of the sale, saying he texted her personally and that representatives for her father (who owned a minority stake in the company) were present on a shareholders call about the sale June 25. He also hits back at Swift’s characterization of the new contract Big Machine offered her.

“100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement,” Borchetta writes. “We were working together on a new type of deal for our new streaming world that was not necessarily tied to ‘albums’ but more of a length of time… Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave.”  

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Hey Taylor. First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive.. I have to be honest though it was my caption and post that I screenshoted of scooter and Kanye that said “taylor swift what up” he didnt have anything to do with it and it wasnt even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that.. Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.! As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter. Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you. I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont believe solves anything. I’m sure Scooter and i would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or or any feelings that need to be addressed. Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line..

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And on a more personal note, Justin Bieber — another of Braun’s celebrity clients — took to Instagram to join the fray. First, he apologized to Swift for the social-media bullying episode she references, but goes on to argue she is now doing the same thing to Braun. Bieber also says Braun had no part in the feud, and in fact “was the person who told me not to joke like that.”

“Neither Scooter or I have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you,” Bieber writes. “I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone I love’s character that’s crossing a line.”

Other artists like pop star Halsey have come to Swift’s defense. The Big Machine Label Group roster also includes Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Lady Antebellum, Brett Young, Rascal Flatts, Midland, Brantley Gilbert, Jennifer Nettles, Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, Carly Pearce, Riley Green, Aaron Lewis, Danielle Bradbery, Cheap Trick and Badflower.