On Thursday night, Taylor Swift took to her Tumblr account to talk about something transpiring behind the scenes: She accused music manager Scooter Braun and Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta of preventing her from performing any of the music from her own back catalog at the 2019 American Music Awards. The statement might have reminded observers of the drama that ensued from Scooter Braun’s company acquiring Big Machine Records this summer.
With all the details, statements, and growing involvement from other celebrities, the situation got more complex with every minute. Here’s a guide to what happened.
What did Swift say in her statement?
“[They] said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be rerecording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” Swift wrote in a public Tumblr post on Thursday, adding that Braun and Borchetta “have declined the use of [her] older music or performance footage” for an upcoming Netflix documentary about her, “even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
“I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it,” Swift continued, adding, “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.”
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
How did Braun and Borchetta respond?
Swift’s former record label, Big Machine Records, released a statement on Friday about Swift’s accusations, telling Us Weekly, “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 [Lover] in which we do not financially participate.”
However, according to Rolling Stone, Swift’s representative responded, “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 rerecording restrictions in connection with these two projects: The Netflix documentary and The Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event.’”
What’s the backstory here?
Swift has long been an advocate of artists owning their own work, and after Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings bought Big Machine in July, she said on Good Morning America that she would be able to—and planned to—rerecord her old work starting in November 2020.
In the same interview, Swift referred to “incessant, manipulative bullying” she’d allegedly received from Braun over her career, and earlier this summer, she called Braun buying her former record label “my worst-case scenario” in another Tumblr post.
Scott and Scooter, you know what the right thing to do is 🙏🙏
Taylor and her fans deserve to celebrate the music!!
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) November 15, 2019
Who’s standing with Swift?
Celebrities have rallied around Swift, with Selena Gomez writing on Instagram Stories, “I can tell you first hand the MOST important thing to Taylor is her family, love, her fans, and her MUSIC. I really hope there is a change of heart over this unfortunate situation.” Other celebrities who have come out to support Swift in her battle against Braun and Big Machine included Sara Bareilles, Gigi Hadid, Lily Allen, and Spencer Pratt.
How have Swift’s fans responded?
Fans have launched a hashtag, #IStandWithTaylor, into the Twitter stratosphere, and it quickly became the top trend on Twitter. On the more extreme end, some fans are even doxxing and harassing Braun and Borchetta on Twitter and Instagram.
What’s going to happen next?
All eyes are on both parties as the statements continue to come. The next big move from Swift may come in November 2020, when she will gain the right to rerecord her back catalog, which she said in her Tumblr post is “something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to.” In the meantime, #IStandWithTaylor is still gaining traction on Twitter.