By Jessica Sager
Published July 01, 2019
Taylor Swift lashed out at Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta for selling the label, which includes the masters of her first six albums, to Kanye West's former manager Scooter Braun, whom she accused of "manipulative bullying." Late Sunday, Borchetta fired back at the "Mean" singer's claims.
Swift, 29, posted a blistering Tumblr blog Sunday alleging that she was never informed of the $300 million sale and that Borchetta had previously refused to let her buy back her masters without re-signing with Big Machine.
Borchetta wrote on the Big Machine website Sunday night, "Taylor’s dad, Scott Swift, was a shareholder in Big Machine Records, LLC. We first alerted all of the shareholders on Thursday, June 20th for an official shareholder’s call scheduled for Tuesday, June 25th. On the 6/25 call the shareholders were made aware of the pending deal with Ithaca Holdings and had 3 days to go over all of the details of the proposed transaction. We then had a final call on Friday, June 28th in which the transaction passed with a majority vote and 3 of the 5 shareholders voting ‘yes’ with 92 percent of the shareholder’s vote."
He continued, "Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06 p.m., Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me. I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days. I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text. But, I truly doubt that she 'woke up to the news when everyone else did."
Swift's rep denied that the singer's father was a shareholder, telling Variety, “Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been. On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in, due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty. Her dad did not join that call because he did not want to be required to withhold any information from his own daughter. Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta, and he did not call her in advance.”
Sources told the outlet that Swift's father instead had a proxy on a conference call into the meeting.
Borchetta also published screenshots of deal points he'd had with the "You Need to Calm Down" crooner, which he said they'd discussed together at length. Borchetta claimed that they "were working together on a new type of deal for our new streaming world" that wasn't determined by a number of albums, but a "length of time."
He also included a text he claims to have sent the singer the night before The Wall Street Journal published the first story about the new Big Machine deal.
There were also terms negotiated for her to purchase her masters, which she reportedly declined. "Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career," he wrote. "She chose to leave." Sources also told Variety that there were at least two offers to sell Swift her masters and that she declined both.
Borchetta said he and Swift were on good terms when she informed him she wanted to explore opportunities at other labels. She signed with Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, in November 2018; Borchetta alleged that Swift texted him minutes before her new deal went public.
He included the text he reportedly received from Swift, in which she wrote, "Since communication ran dry on our negotiations, I’ve done what I told you I would do and gone out exploring other options. Owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture. I had a choice whether to bet on my past or to bet on the future and I think knowing me, you can guess which one I chose. I also saw a rare opportunity to effect positive change for a lot of other artists with the leverage I have right now. I know you believe in the same things I do and I’d like to think you would be proud of what I’ve negotiated for in my deal."
Borchetta also vehemently denied allegations that Braun bullied the singer, though he admitted he was "aware of some issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber," who is Braun's biggest client, but noted, "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. Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor."
The Big Machine founder then threw what some interpreted to be a low blow at the singer, writing that Braun called him to ask Swift to participate in Ariana Grande's One Love Manchester benefit and the Parkland March, saying she declined both offers.
Swift blasted Braun and Borchetta in her original missive, writing of the deal, "Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it." She accused Braun of "manipulative bullying" through his association with former clients Kanye West (especially his "Famous" video, which depicts her likeness nude) and Justin Bieber.
The singer further described the deal as her "worst case scenario" and suggested sexism may have played a role in Borchetta's decision to sell the label, noting, "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. 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. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever."
Reps for Swift and Braun, whose roster currently includes Bieber, Grande and Demi Lovato, among others, did not immediately return requests for comment, but Bieber, as well as Braun's wife, addressed Swift's claims.
Bieber posted a throwback selfie with Swift and claimed that Braun discouraged him from writing "Taylor Swift what up" on an Instagram caption with Braun and West weeks after West's wife, Kim Kardashian, published potentially illegally recorded videos of Swift seemingly granting West her permission to rap about her in his song "Famous," which she had previously denied, citing the track's misogynist message. While the "Baby" singer was apologetic for their past interaction, he also accused Swift of trying to "get sympathy" with her blog post and that she used her platform to get her fans to bully Braun online.
Braun's wife Yael concurred with Bieber's post, but was harsher with her words, accusing Swift of being both a bully and a liar. "Don't blame him because Kim caught you in a lie, it's embarrassing, I know — but adults own up to their mistakes," Yael wrote on Instagram. "We learn and grow from them, we don't divert blame and blur the lines of reality to suit our needs."