“It’s Time For Some Truth”: Taylor Swift’s Ex-Label Responds To Her Blistering Open Letter
Earlier today, Taylor Swift detailed via a blog post her devastation in learning her masters had been sold to Scooter Braun, a man who 'incessantly bullied' her for years.
After Taylor Swift posted a note on tumblr this morning expressing deep devastation that the masters of tracks from her first six albums now belonged to Scooter Braun, the head of her former label has posted an open letter “to set some things straight”.
Swift’s masters are owned by Big Machine Records, who she parted ways with in 2018 after a 12 year contract lapsed. This morning, it was announced that Braun (manager of Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, among others) would buy the company and merge it with his own, Ithaca Holdings, meaning he now owned her masters.
In her response, Swift said the move felt pointed from BMR’s CEO Scott Borchetta after she had fought to buy back her masters and ultimately rejected a deal where she would release the rights to an old album for each new one recorded and released.
“He knew what he was doing; they both did,” she wrote. “Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever. ”
After the note, a hashtag #WeStandWithTaylor saw more than 300,000 supportive messages, including from musicians Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Carlie Hanson and Allie X, with many more reportedly unfollowing Braun on Instagram. Todrick Hall — who co-executive produced Swift’s latest and controversial music video — even called him “an evil person“, detailing his own misgivings from his own time under Braun’s management.
Now, Borchetta has responded. The whole timeline is reminiscent of the Kim Kardashian-West’s leaked phone call between Kanye West and Swift about his ‘Famous’ music video, after Swift had publicly said she had not been contacted about the video, which features a naked wax figure of her likeness.
Borchetta first stresses that Swift wouldn’t have woken up to the news, as she claimed, as her father is a stockholder, and attended a meeting on June 25. He also says he texted Swift himself the night before the news broke, “as a courtesy”. “I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text,” he wrote. “But, I truly doubt that she ‘woke up to the news when everyone else did’.”
He also claims that he “never experienced” nor saw Swift express distress or distaste when Braun’s name was mentioned, and takes the time to say Swift, once largely apolitical, declined opportunities to play at Grande’s Manchester benefit concert or the Braun-organised Parkland March for gun control.
Finally, Borchetta also claims Swift was given “every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career”, but chose to leave BMR. He then includes a picture of the last offer drawn up which states that Swift, if she signed a 10-year contract, would own her masters.
Swift declined the offer, and ended up leaving BMG for Universal Music Group. The letter is an unusually public step for a label CEO to make.
Read the full statement below.
Scott Borchetta’s Statement
So, it’s time for some truth…
In regard to a post earlier today from Taylor, it’s time to set some things straight.
Taylor’s dad, Scott Swift, was a shareholder in Big Machine Records, LLC. We first alerted all of the shareholders on Thursday, June 20th for an official shareholder’s call scheduled for Tuesday, June 25th. On the 6/25 call the shareholders were made aware of the pending deal with Ithaca Holdings and had 3 days to go over all of the details of the proposed transaction. We then had a final call on Friday, June 28th in which the transaction passed with a majority vote and 3 of the 5 shareholders voting ‘yes’ with 92% of the shareholder’s vote.
Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06pm, Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me.
I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days. I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text. But, I truly doubt that she “woke up to the news when everyone else did”.
I am attaching a few very important deal points in what was part of our official last offer to Taylor Swift to remain at Big Machine Records. Her 13 Management team and attorney Don Passman went over this document in great detail and reported the terms to her in great detail.
Taylor and I then talked through the deal together.
As you will read, 100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement. 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.
We are an independent record company. We do not have tens of thousands of artists and recordings. My offer to Taylor, for the size of our company, was extraordinary. But it was also all I could offer as I am responsible for dozens of artists’ careers and over 120 executives and their families.
Taylor and I remained on very good terms when she told me she wanted to speak with other record companies and see what was out there for her. I never got in her way and wished her well.
The morning that the new Taylor/UMG announcement was going to be made, she texted me shortly before letting me know that the announcement was coming in a few minutes.
As we both posted on our socials, we saluted each other and cheered each other on.
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.
As to her comments about ‘being in tears or close to it’ anytime my new partner Scooter Braun’s name was brought up, I certainly never experienced that. Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber? Yes. But there were also times where Taylor knew that I was close to Scooter and that Scooter was a very good source of information for upcoming album releases, tours, etc, and I’d reach out to him for information on our behalf. Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor. He called me directly about Manchester to see if Taylor would participate (she declined).
He called me directly to see if Taylor wanted to participate in the Parkland March (she declined). Scooter has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music.
This is the text Taylor sent to me on Monday, November 19th at 8:57am:
I hope this finds you well. Since communication ran dry on our negotiations, I’ve done what I told you I would do and gone out exploring other options. Owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture. I had a choice whether to bet on my past or to bet on the future and I think knowing me, you can guess which one I chose. I also saw a rare opportunity to effect positive change for a lot of other artists with the leverage I have right now. I know you believe in the same things I do and I’d like to think you would be proud of what I’ve negotiated for in my deal. I wanted to tell you first that I’ll be signing with Lucian. I honestly truly cherish everything you and I have built together and I plan on saying so in my announcement of the new deal. What we accomplished together will be a lasting legacy and a case study on excellent partnerships, and may it continue. I still view you as a partner and friend and I hope you feel the same. Sending you a hug and my most sincere gratitude.
And SO much love,
Here is the text I sent on the evening of June 29 at 9:05pm:
Hope all is well and congratulations on the success of your first two singles from “Lover”!
I can’t wait to hear the entire album…
I wanted to pass along to you the same courtesy that you passed along to me in regard to my future.
Tomorrow morning (Sunday, June 30th) at 10a central, the Wall Street Journal will announce that I am entering into a merger/acquisition with Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings. This move will give us more pop culture super-power than ever before and I’m so excited about the future.
I want you to know that I will continue to be the proud custodian of your previous works and will continue to keep you and your team abreast of all future plans for releases of you work.
Nothing but the best,