UPDATE July 2nd: Taylor Swift’s lawyer Donald Passman has refuted Scott Borchetta’s claim that Swift was able to buy her masters. “Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others,” Passman said. A rep for Swift did not respond when asked to clarify the other artists mentioned.
Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta responded to accusations Taylor Swift laid out in a Tumblr post Sunday where she called the sale of her master recordings to music manager Scooter Braun “my worst cast scenario.”
Earlier Sunday, Big Machine announced that Braun’s Ithaca Holdings had acquired the label – and with it, Swift’s back catalog – for over $300 million. That afternoon, Swift wrote she was blindsided but not surprised by the sale, but felt Borchetta betrayed her by selling her catalog to Braun. “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” Swift wrote of Braun, who she claims coaxed and egged on the feud between her and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Borchetta responded in his own post Sunday night, with the exec stating that the deal was settled upon earlier that week during a shareholders’ call; Swift’s father Scott is a Big Machine shareholder and, according to Borchetta, was represented on the call by a 13 Management lawyer. Borchetta added that he texted Swift at 9 p.m. Saturday night about the impending deal. “I truly doubt that she ‘woke up to the news when everyone else did,'” Borchetta said of Swift’s claim.
A rep for Swift did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
Swift also stated that – prior to signing with Universal – Big Machine Label Group offered a pathway to owning her masters with a new contract where she would “‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in,” a claim that Borchetta denied.
“As you will read, 100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement,” Borchetta countered alongside a photocopy of the proposed contract. “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.”
Borchetta added, “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.”
While Swift expected Big Machine Label Group would be sold following her exit, she felt “sad and grossed out” that Borchetta sold to Braun. “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,” Swift wrote. “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.”
In his post, Borchetta defended the sale to Braun and the music manager himself while simultaneously throwing Swift under the bus, saying the singer declined Braun’s invitations to perform at a pair of high-profile appearances.
“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,” Borchetta wrote.
“Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor. He called me directly about [the] Manchester [benefit concert] 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.”
In the aftermath of Swift’s Tumblr note, artists have taken sides, with many allegedly unfollowing Braun on social media. Halsey penned a lengthy letter in of support for Swift on Twitter, while Bieber both apologized to Swift but defended Braun, his longtime manager, in an Instagram post.
While Braun himself has remained quiet following Swift’s Tumblr post, the manager’s wife Yael took to Instagram for a “public airing of laundry.” “You were given the opportunity to own your own masters, you passed,” Yael Cohen Braun wrote. “And girl, who are you to talk about bullying? The world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers.
“Beyond that, it’s easy to see that the point of putting this out was to get people to bully him,” she added. “You are supposed to be a role model, but continue to model bullying.”