Chapter 2 of Taylor Swift‘s fight for musical freedom is officially upon us. And now, her former label and current publicist are weighing in.
ICYMI, Swift took to social media on November 14 to specifically call out industry executive Scooter Braun and Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta — the current owners of the back catalog of her first six albums — for blocking her from performing a medley of her work live at the American Music Awards on Sunday, November 24. She also mentioned the pair blocking efforts to use her older material and performance footage in an upcoming Swift-centric Netflix documentary.
“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,” her letter read. She also called upon fans and industry peers to let Borchetta and Braun know that what they’re doing is wrong. “The message being sent to me is very clear,” she wrote. “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
But Swifties woke up this morning (November 15) to Big Machine’s official response — one that claims Swift’s statements are unequivocally “false.” “As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her tumblr statements yesterday based on false information,” the letter read. “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.”
While it’s certainly true that Big Machine cannot legally bar Swift from performing her past hits live, the label’s response didn’t quite address Swift’s main point, which was that a recorded performance — such as the one she’d been planning for the AMAs — wouldn’t be allowed “because that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” as she wrote. Still, Big Machine held strong, writing they “have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties.”
Big Machine’s response to Swift’s claims didn’t end there. The label heads went on to mention the “millions of dollars” the singer allegedly owes them, saying that they’ve “worked diligently” to reach a solution with Swift. “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,” they wrote.
The label’s letter closed out with a direct hit at the pop star. “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist,” it reads. “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. … 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.”
Unsurprisingly, Swifties around the world are not pleased with Big Machine’s response — and that includes Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine. Paine took to Twitter following Big Machine’s statement to provide receipts of her own — receipts that seemingly prove Swift was telling the truth all along.
After sharing a statement that was provided to Swift’s team on October 28, 2019, which directly denied her of using her songs for an upcoming Netflix special and live event, Paine shared her side of the story: “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.”
Before signing off, Paine pointed out that Big Machine’s response was merely a deflection. “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 of unpaid royalties over several years.”
Your move, Big Machine.
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