Taylor Swift, Big Machine Spar Over Netflix, AMA Controversy - Rolling Stone
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Big Machine, Taylor Swift Camp Spar Over American Music Awards, Netflix Controversy

“The narrative you have created does not exist,” says pop star’s former label

Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift’s former label Big Machine Group said it was “shocked” by the pop star’s claim that the label is preventing her from performing her old songs on television, telling her “the narrative you have created does not exist.”

On Thursday, Swift posted on social media that Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun had told her she’s “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.” Swift claimed Borchetta and Braun were preventing her from performing both a career-spanning medley on the American Music Awards, and from using her old material in a Netflix documentary about her life.

Swift’s post marked the latest salvo in an ongoing feud with her old label, which began earlier this year when Braun — a longtime Swift nemesis — purchased Big Machine for $300 million and took control of the masters for her first six albums. Swift then announced that she planned to re-record her first six albums in order regain control of her songs.    

In response to Swift’s post, Big Machine Label Group responded, “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.”

Big Machine went on to accuse Swift of “contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company,” though they did not specify the nature of the alleged debt. The label also claimed that they were close to resolving the issue as recently as Thursday, until “Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.” (In her post, Swift called on her fans to “let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this.”)

A representative for Swift immediately responded to Big Machine’s statement, citing an October 28th e-mail from the vice president of rights management and business affairs at Big Machine Label Group. The letter to Swift’s camp reportedly said that “BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with” two projects, the Netflix documentary and a recent performance tied to a sales event hosted by the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group.

Swift’s rep noted that to avoid an argument, the singer performed three songs from Lover (released via Republic) at the Alibaba event because “it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement.” The statement also claimed that on Thursday, “Scott Borchetta… flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.”

At the end of the statement, Swift’s rep also countered BMLG’s accusation that the pop star owes them millions, claiming that it’s actually Big Machine that owes Swift “$7.9 million of unpaid royalties over several years.”

Both statements are available below.

Big Machine Label Group Statement

As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked 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.

The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career. We have worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward. We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. However, despite our persistent efforts to find a private and mutually satisfactory solution, Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.

Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation. 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.

Statement From Taylor Swift’s Rep

The truth is, on October 28, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group sent Taylor Swift’s team the following:

“Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects:
The Netflix documentary and The Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event.”

To avoid an argument over rights, Taylor performed three songs off her new album Lover at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement. In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.

Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.

Newswire

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