Taylor Swift has called out Scooter Braun for selling her master recording to a US private equity firm without her knowledge. She also claimed that he attempted to use a non-disclosure agreement as a means to “silence [her] forever” regarding the potential sale of her masters and the past conflict the two major music industry heads have had regarding Braun’s ownership of Swift’s past music.
This battle dates back to when Swift was a 15-year-old new artist entering into the music industry. Swift initially signed a six-album deal with Big Machine when she first began her career, this deal entailed that Big Machine would hold and own the rights to her master recordings of these six albums.
After the six albums, Swift left Big Machine and signed a new deal with Republic that gave her more creative control and ownership over her music. Regardless of this new deal, Big Machine still owned the masters from the first six albums, so when Scooter Braun bought Big Machine in June of 2019, he thus had total control over Taylor Swift’s discography from the beginning of her career. Braun’s purchasing of the label is what brought this battle to the public eye, after Swift called Braun out last year for his purchasing of her music.
“My musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it through incessant, manipulative bullying over the years.”
Braun and his team initially responded to these claims in November 2019 by stating that “Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor,” and that he was open to all possibilities in regard to selling Swift’s masters. Now, one year later, Braun has sold the master recordings to Shamrock Capital in a deal that’s reportedly worth $300 million. The announcement of this deal prompted Swift to take to social media to explain to her fans what this actually meant.
“This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge.”
If Taylor Swift actually owned the masters to her first six albums, as an artist, she would not only be able to have the satisfaction of owning the work she created from a young age, but also she would be earning a greater royalty and sales revenue over the music and have more control over how it’s used (in commercials, movies, TV).
This is unfortunately an issue that happens to so many young artists entering into the industry; they sign contracts when they’re young that trap them in multiple album deals where they aren’t actually able to own or profit from their own work. Similar situations have happened to artists like Jojo, Tinashe, Kesha, even Prince and The Beatles.
Within the statement posted to her twitter, Swift also claimed that Scooter’s team wanted her to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would bar Swift from ever talking about Braun again unless in a positive manner. “I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work … He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me,” the artist stated. She also shared the letter sent to Shamrock Capital back in October when the private firm contacted Swift themselves to inform her that the sale of her masters was occurring.
Shamrock Capital have also released a statement regarding the sale: “Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalogue. We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered.”
Taylor has claimed in the past when this battle with Braun first began that she was in the midst of re-recording all the master recordings of her first six albums so that she would be able to have ownership over those new and fresh recordings that she created as a fully independent artist.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.