There is no end in sight for the back-and-forth drama between
and her former label Big Machine Records’ executives Taylor Swift Scott Borchetta and . Scooter Braun
Since June 2019, the Grammy winner has been at war with the big-wig business partners over the rights to the music she recorded before
switching to Republic Records the previous November. Braun acquired Big Machine and Swift’s back catalog of master recordings as part of an estimated $300 million deal.
Shortly after the acquisition news broke, the “Bad Blood” singer took to Tumblr to alert fans that she “had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.” In her blog post, she claimed she “learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world” and
called out the talent manager for years of “incessant, manipulative bullying” at the hands of his clients and Justin Bieber . She called the deal her “worst case scenario.” Kanye West
Borchetta and Braun’s wife,
Yael Cohen, were among those who publicly rebutted the claims in the Tumblr post, while celebrities including , Halsey , Kelly Clarkson and Ed Sheeran Cher sided with Swift.
The drama eventually simmered down, and Swift released her seventh album,
, in August 2019. However, less than three months later, she Lover exposed Braun and Borchetta once again after they allegedly tried to block her from performing her old hits at the 2019 American Music Awards, where she is being honored as Artist of the Decade. She also claimed on social media that the executives “declined the use of my older music or performance footage” for a Netflix documentary that she has in the works.
slammed Swift’s post as “calculated,” saying in a November 2019 statement that it does “not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.” The label, however, did not explicitly address claims that it had barred the pop star from performing her old material.
“While Big Machine is not directly blocking her performance, they are
putting a roadblock in her way as far as performing these particular songs,” music industry lawyer Erin M. Jacobson told Us Weekly.
Scroll down for a complete timeline of everything we know so far.
A New Label
Swift announced on Instagram on November 19, 2018, that she found a “new home” at Republic Records. At the time, she wrote that it was “incredibly exciting to know that I’ll own all of my master recordings that I make from now on.” She ended her post by thanking Borchetta, who discovered her in 2005. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait to show you what I’m making next,” she wrote to her fans.
The Drama Begins
Cats actress called out Braun and Borchetta on Tumblr on June 30, 2019, after the former obtained her masters. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
Gregory Pace/Shutterstock; Matt Baron/Shutterstock; Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Braun’s Wife Weighs In
Cohen, who has been married to Braun since 2014,
fired back at Swift on Instagram later on June 30, 2019, telling her to “get the facts straight” and alleging that the entertainer had “passed” on the opportunity to own her masters. “And girl, who are you to talk about bullying? The world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers,” the F–k Cancer founder added. “You are supposed to be a role model, but continue to model bullying.”
A source then told
Us that Braun — who, at first, did not directly address the drama — was “ open to having a private conversation with Taylor to clear up everything that went down … but he has no intention of releasing a formal statement and blowing up the situation even more than it already has been.”
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock; Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup/Shutterstock
Borchetta’s Side of the Story
The Big Machine founder vowed to “set some things straight” in a June 30, 2019, post on the
label’s website titled “So, It’s Time For Some Truth.” He claimed he “personally texted Taylor … to inform her prior to the story [of Braun’s acquisition] breaking … so she could hear it directly from me.” He further alleged that Swift “had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career,” yet she still “chose to leave” Big Machine.
Swift’s Lawyer Speaks Out
The former country singer’s attorney, Donald Passman, denied in a statement on July 3, 2019, that Borchetta gave her “an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label,
outright with a check.”
Plans to Rerecord
Swift announced on
CBS Sunday Morning on August 25, 2019, that she intends to start rerecording her pre-Republic discography once she is legally allowed to do so, beginning in November 2020, two years after the termination of her Big Machine contract. “I just think that artists deserve to own their own work. I just feel very passionately about that,” she said during the interview.
Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock; John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Braun Praises ‘Lover’
The SB Projects founder pushed aside his beef with Swift on August 23, 2019, when he
congratulated her on the release of her album Lover. “Regardless of what has been said the truth is you don’t make big bets unless you are a believer and always have been. Brilliant album with #Lover. Congrats @taylorswift13. Supporting was always the healthier option,” he tweeted.
Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock; Gregory Pace/Shutterstock
After a few weeks of silence on all ends, Swift shared a lengthy note on her social media platforms on November 14, 2019, that accused Braun and Borchetta of not allowing her “to perform a medley of my hits through the decade” at the AMAs. “They claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” she wrote. “I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it. I’ve tried to work this out privately through 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.”
In response, Big Machine released a statement that read in part, “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.”
The label also accused Swift of “contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company.” Her spokeswoman denied the claim and alleged that Big Machine actually owes the hitmaker “$7.9 million of unpaid royalties over several years.”
John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock; Rob Latour/Shutterstock; Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock
Big Machine and AMA Producers Go at It
The spectacle became all the more confusing on November 18, 2019, when Big Machine and Dick Clark Productions, the company behind the AMAs, released
contrasting statements. The label claimed that it had “come to terms on a licensing agreement” with DCP “that approves their artists’ performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms.” However, the production entity later said it did not “agree to, create, authorize or distribute a statement in partnership with Big Machine.”
A source close to the AMAs told
Us that Swift “has had to plan a different performance … because Big Machine has not waived the re-record restriction provision and they have claimed the re-broadcast would be a breach of her contract.” A second insider said the performer “will not stand for bullying and wants to ensure this never happens to another artist.”
Michael Buckner/Hollywood Life/Shutterstock
Braun Breaks His Silence
Braun stayed quiet for months before addressing his beef with Swift. “I just think we live in a time of toxic division, and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations. I don’t like politicians doing it. I don’t like anybody doing it,” he said on November 21, 2019, at the Entertainment Industry Conference. “If that means that I’ve got to be the bad guy longer, I’ll be the bad guy longer, but I’m not going to participate.”
The executive added that he “can handle it pretty easily,” but death threats directed at others signaled that the situation had “gotten out of hand.” He then suggested a private session to make peace. “We’re inciting all of this by continuing these arguments in public,” he noted. “We just need to go behind closed doors and see if we can have a conversation. And if we’re not having conversations, then I don’t think we’re going to find resolution.”
Live Album Release Drama
Swift took to her Instagram Stories in April 2020 to address Big Machine Records’ alleged release of a live album filled with her old songs. “Hey guys — I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is putting out an ‘album’ of live performances of mine tonight,” the Grammy winner wrote at the time. “This recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was 18. Big Machine has listed the date as a 2017 release but they’re actually releasing it tonight at midnight.”
Swift added, “I’m always honest with you guys about this stuff, so I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me. It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and The Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money :joy:. In my opinion…Just another case of shameless greed in the time of coronavirus. So tasteless, but very transparent.”