Taylor Swift put the full weight of her legion of fans behind a battle with two record executives who she says are stopping her from performing her own songs. And now the record label has fired back, claiming she’s invented a “narrative” that “does not exist.”
On Thursday the superstar recording artist told her supporters on Twitter that Big Machine Records executives Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun — who also represents Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato — have prevented her from performing at the upcoming American Music Awards and from releasing a Netflix documentary about her life.
“Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this,” Swift wrote in a statement. “Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this - I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
The backstory here is a little complicated.
In June, a group led by Braun purchased Big Machine Records — Swift’s former label — which gave them ownership over Swift’s entire catalog except her latest album, “Lover.” Shortly after the sale, Swift called Braun — importantly a public ally to Swift enemies Kim Kardashian and Kanye West — an “incessant, manipulative bully” and called it a “nightmare scenario.”
Swift soon announced she planned to re-record her old albums, making copycat versions that would effectively give her ownership of her music again. So now, according to Swift, Braun and Borchetta are putting the kibosh on her American Music Awards performance because she was planning to perform a medley of her hits, including pre-“Lover” tracks — and they say that would be re-recording her music before she’s allowed to next year. Swift also claimed they blocked from using her music and performance footage in the Netflix documentary, and would only release it if she agrees to not re-record her music and stop talking about Braun and Borchetta.
“The message being sent to me is very clear,” Swift said. “Basically be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
Swift fans have responded, well, swiftly. There’s already a petition with 66,000 signatures supporting her efforts.
But Big Machine Records came back with a lengthy statement of their own on Friday, saying they weren’t preventing Swift from performing at the AMAs, where she’s set to be honored as the “Artist of the Decade.”
“As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her Tumblr statements yesterday based on false information,” the group said in a statement. “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.”
The label said Swift has admitted she owes it “millions of dollars and multiple assets,” and that they had been working toward a resolution.
“However, 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,” the statement read. “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation.”
Cover: In this Aug. 26, 2019 file photo, Taylor Swift arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)