The flames of the feud between Taylor Swift and Scott Borchetta, head of her previous label Big Machine Records, and Scooter Braun, who owns her entire back catalog of music, have been reignited. In a tweet on Nov. 14, Swift said the two won’t let her perform a mashup of her hits over the last 10 years during the American Music Awards (AMAs), where she’ll be honored as Artist of the Decade.
In the lengthy tweet, which was sitting on 200,000 likes just 30 minutes after she posted it, Swift explains she was told can’t use any songs from her first six albums during the televised awards ceremony, because Braun and Borchetta claim this would count as a re-recording of it. She’s not allowed to re-record the songs now owned by Braun until November 2020.
They’re also stopping Swift from using her old music in a Netflix documentary that’s currently being made that follows her over the last few years of her life, she said.
“Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not 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,” she said.
Swift claims their behavior sends a message that unless she’s “a good little girl,” she’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,” she added.
Swift is asking people to put pressure on Braun and Borchetta so they stop “exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
Braun didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Borchetta sold Swift’s old music to music manager Braun earlier this year for a reported $300 million, with the pop star not knowing about it until it hit the news. Swift had previously labelled Braun an “incessant, manipulative bully.” He owns her 2006 self-titled debut album, 2008’s Fearless, 2010’s Speak Now, 2012’s Red, 2014’s 1989 and 2017’s Reputation. For this year’s Lover album, Swift switched over to Republic Records, where she says she owns the rights to her own music.
“Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy,” she wrote on June 30. “This is my worst case scenario.”
In a statement published Nov. 15 by Variety, Big Machine said it was “shocked” by Swift’s statements and said they were “false information.”
“At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special,” the company said, as reported by CNET sister site CBS News. “We do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.”
It said Swift owes Big Machine “millions of dollars and multiple assets” and said her decision to involve her fanbase in the discussions is a “calculated” move that “greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.”
Swift clapped back at Big Machine’s statement, CBS News reported Nov. 15. According to her response, Big Machine told Swift last month that it wouldn’t issue licenses for her old music to be played in the Netflix documentary or at Alibaba’s Singles Day.
On Nov. 14, Borchetta then “flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix,” Swift’s statement said.
Big Machine told CNET sister site ET in a statement Monday, Nov. 18, that it has now reached a deal for Swift to play her earlier songs.
“This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances,” the Big Machine statement said. ET also reported a source saying Nov. 15 that Big Machine was forced to shut down early after employees received death treats that were direct and hostile.
Originally published Nov. 14, 5:07 p.m. PT.
Update, Nov. 15: Adds statement from Big Machine and Swift’s response to that statement; Nov. 18: Adds new statement from Big Machine.