Fans of Taylor Swift are rejoicing over the news that the singer can now re-record her old masters. Yep, as of November 1, 2020, she is officially allowed to remake her past songs, and everyone is freaking out about it.
For those who missed it, the blonde beauty has been embroiled in a feud with her old record label, Big Machine Records, and Scooter Braun (who bought the label and the rights to her old music in 2019) for months now, and she announced last year that as soon as she was allowed, she was going to record new versions her throwback tunes. So now that she can officially redo them, is the “Lover” songstress going to? Will they sound exactly the same or a little different? What has she said about it? And why is she feuding with Braun? Here’s what we know…
Taylor Swift Signed With Big Machine Records At The Age Of 15
When Swift first started, she signed with Big Machine Records — at only 15 years old. Together, they released six studio albums, which is why in November 2018, when the blonde beauty announced that she was cutting ties with them and that she had signed with Republic Records, fans were pretty shook. It appeared that she left on good terms, however, and at the time, she even wrote a sweet goodbye letter to her old manager, Scott Borchetta.
“Thanks to Scott Borchetta for believing in me as a 14-year-old and for guiding me through over a decade of work that I will always be so proud of,” she gushed. “I’m extremely grateful to get to do what I love, especially with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. The best thing I’ve been lucky enough to receive is dedication, trust and loyalty of the fans who have cared about the words and melodies I’ve written.”
But When Scooter Braun Bought Her Old Record Label, Taylor Swift Was Unamused
When news hit the web that Braun (who manages Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and more) had purchased Big Machine Records in June 2019 — which meant he now owned the rights to her old songs — Swift was not happy. She took to Tumblr, where she posted a lengthy note and claimed that Braun and his clients had bullied her in the past. She also said that she was completely blindsided by the news that he had bought the rights to her old songs.
“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my own work. 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. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums,” she wrote. “Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchage of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
The 30-year-old also shared an old picture that Bieber had posted, which showed him FaceTiming with Kanye West. “Taylor Swift, what’s up?” Bieber captioned it.
As fans know, West and Swift were embroiled in a feud of their own for years, which came to a head after he wrote a song called “Famous,” and included a nasty line about the pop star. At the time, he claimed he had gotten her permission before releasing the song, but she said that wasn’t true. Then, his wife, Kim Kardashian, got involved and released an illegally-recorded snippet of their phone call, which seemingly proved West was right. A few years later, however, the full phone call leaked online, and it was proven that Kardashian actually edited the footage to make Swift look back.
“Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snipper of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. (See photo),” Swift continued in her statement. “Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my music legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tries to dismantle it. This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at 15 to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. What when that man says, ‘Music has value,’ he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it. When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing. They both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever. Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make. I will always be proud of my past work.”
Scott Borchetta Claimed She Knew About The Deal
Borchetta responded in a statement of his own, which was posted to his website a few days later. And he claimed that Swift did know about the deal before it went public.
“Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06 P.M., Saturday, June 29 to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30 so she could hear it directly from me,” he wrote, alongside alleged screenshots of their text messages. “I guess it might be somehow be possible that her dad, Scott [Swift], 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 shareholders calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior five 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.’”
The music mogul also claimed that he offered Swift the chance to buy her own music back.
“100 percent of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement. We were worked 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,” he explained. “She told me she wanted to speak with other record companies and see what was out there for her. … Taylor has every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated with her career. She chose to leave.”
Swift’s publicist denied these claims. They told People Magazine in a statement, “Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been. On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty.”
What Did Scooter Braun Say About It?
Braun didn’t post anything about it online, but he seemingly responded during an interview on Tony Gonzalez’s “Wide Open” podcast.
“I went through some drama recently,” he said. “And then put my phone down, looked at my friends and my family … and I was like, ‘I’m good … I’m happy.’ And people question your integrity. They talk s**t. You got to know your intention. I think you should have no regrets in life unless you do something with malicious intent. If I go through life with no malicious intent … hurt people hurt people. They’re going to project it onto you, they are going to say certain things.”
He also addressed all the backlash he received online.
“I don’t really carry it,” he said about the hate. “I used to get really angry, but now I am at a place where this is just an opportunity for me long-term to really truly show my truth. It’s hard when you get attacked and it’s not based on any truth, but for that other person it may be based in truth but they don’t have all the information. And that’s why I am always open to communication and having a conversation with someone and saying, ‘Maybe this was a misunderstanding and I am happy to have the conversation with you.’ But not everybody is willing to do that and you can’t go through life thinking you’re going to be friends and everyone is going to like you.”
The 39-year-old concluded by saying he didn’t “do anything with malicious intent.”
“I try to do the right thing,” he added. “Not everyone is going to be happy with what you do. I think in the long-term, I’ve learned this over time, the truth always comes out. And I am confident in that.”
Taylor Swift Then Announced That She Wanted To Re-Record Her Old Songs
A few months later, Swift sent the entire world into a frenzy when she revealed that she had plans to re-record her old masters.
“It’s something I’m very excited about doing because my contract says that starting November 2020 — so next year — I can record albums one through five all over again,” the artist said on Good Morning America in August 2019. “I’m very excited about it. Because I just think that artists deserve to own their work. I just feel very passionately about that. Yeah, it’s next year. It’s right around the corner. I’m going to be busy. I’m really excited.”
She hasn’t said anything about it since, so it’s unclear whether or not she still plans to re-record them.
But The Drama Didn’t End There
In November 2019, when Swift was asked to perform at the American Music Awards, she posted another lengthy note to Tumblr, and this time she claimed that Braun wasn’t letting her sing any of her old songs.
“Guys — It’s been announced recently that the American Music Awards will be honoring me with the Artist of the Decade Award at this year’s ceremony,” she wrote. “I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. 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.”
The singer also revealed that she was planning to release a Netflix documentary, but that Braun and Borchetta weren’t letting her.
“Additionally — and this wasn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. 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,” she continued. “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 hm and Scooter Braun.”
The musician asked her fans and supporters to speak out on her behalf.
“I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. 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,” she added. “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. Scooter also manages several artists show I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this — I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
“I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it,” she concluded. “I’ve tried to work this out privately though my team but have not been able to resolve anything. Right now my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark. I love you guys and I thought you should know what’s been going on.”
Big Machine Records Said This Wasn’t True
The record label said that her claims were not true. They wrote on their website, “As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocking to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information. At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere. Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.”
“Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation,” they added. “When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side. To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumors fester in the absence of communication. Let’s not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”
Swift ended up performing her old songs at the event and releasing her Netflix documentary a few months later.
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