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Music

Taylor Swift calls Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta ‘tyrannical’ in clash over catalog

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift took to social media to ask her fans for help in her continuing battle against music executives Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun.
(Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images)

Pop superstar Taylor Swift took to Twitter on Thursday to enlist fans to pressure her former record label, Big Machine, its founder, Scott Borchetta, and new owner, superstar manager Scooter Braun, to back down on what she alleges is their refusal to allow her to perform any of her old songs for the upcoming American Music Awards show, where she is scheduled to be crowned “artist of the decade.”

“I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show,” Swift, 29, wrote in a tweet headlined “Don’t know what else to do.” “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.”

It’s the latest salvo in an escalating battle between Swift and Borchetta, the executive who launched his label and her career with her increasingly successful string of albums and singles that began in 2006 with her debut album, “Taylor Swift.”

Within an hour of posting her statement, it received more than 150,000 likes, and had been retweeted nearly 60,000 times.

Earlier this year, Swift announced she was signing a new contract with Republic Records, which like Big Machine, falls under the umbrella of parent company Universal Music Entertainment, after her original contract with Big Machine had been fulfilled.

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Borchetta then announced his decision to sell Big Machine to Braun for $300 million, and with it the rights to future releases of the recordings Swift made for the label. That decision angered Swift because she said she was not given the opportunity to buy the label, and rights to her own music, outright in the way that Braun had.

A representative for Borchetta and Big Machine did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

In July, Swift called the sale of the company “my worst nightmare” because of Braun’s role in a long-running feud she’d had with Braun’s former client, rapper Kanye West.

Her original contract with Big Machine included a standard provision precluding her from re-recording material delivered under the contract for a certain period of time. In Swift’s case, she will be allowed to re-record those songs as of November 2020, something she has said she plans to do.

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The AMA show isn’t the only project affected.

“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 last few years,” she wrote. “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.

“Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree not to 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.”

Consequently, she said her performance at the AMAs, the Netflix documentary “and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.”

She accused Borchetta and Braun of “exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”

She is urging fans and other artists to exert pressure on the pair to persuade them to relent.

“The message being sent to me is very clear,” she wrote. “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. So this is where I’m asking for your help. Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.”

She said she’s also reaching out to the Carlyle Group, which helped fund Braun’s purchase of Big Machine,

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“I just want to be able to perform my own music,” Swift wrote. “That’s it.”


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