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Over the past few years a lot has gone down with the rights to Taylor Swift’s first 6 albums. Most recently her masters were once again sold, without her knowledge.
November 3, 2004
At just 14-years-old Taylor Swift signed with Big Machine Label Group. At that age she didn’t know completely what she was agreeing to as she didn’t own the rights to her music.
November 19, 2018
After being with Big Machine Label Group since the start of her career at 15, she signed with Republic Records and UMG. Her deal with Big Machine expired at the end of the month. In her new deal she now owns the master recording on all the music she makes.
June 30, 2019
Ithaca Holdings, Scooter Braun’s company, purchased Big Machine Label Group and acquired the masters to Swift’s first 6 albums. This cost Braun over $300 million.
After the announcement was shared with the world Swift shared a personal letter on Tumblr about what happened from her point of view. Swift details how she over the past few years had been trying to purchase her own masters, but that would only happen if she stayed with Big Machine Label Group and ‘earned’ one album back at a time, one for every new one she turned in. She says that she learned of the purchase with the rest of the world.
Swift also talks about how he has bullied her over the years saying, “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.” She goes on to be vulnerable and shared that Scott, the CEO of Big Machine, knew that she didn’t want to be associated with Braun.
Taylor Swift announced on Good Morning America that she would be able to re-record her first five albums in November of 2020. This means that she would be able to have some ownership of her career defining work.
November 14, 2019
The American Music Awards was preparing to honor Swift with the Artist of the Decade Award at the 2019 ceremony. Swift took to Twitter to share that she was planning on performing a medley of her hits over the past decade at the show, but Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have said she is not allowed to perform her old music. She wrote, “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.”
She went on to announce that her Netflix documentary was also on the line as Scott and Scooter won’t let her use any of her older music and performance footage for the project.
Swift went on to say that she just wants to be able to perform her own music and tried to deal with it personally but her and her team haven’t been able to resolve anything.
Big Machine released their own statement the following day saying that they are shocked about her statements and claim they are false. They asked for “direct and honest conversation” with Swift. They go on to say, “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist.” and to continue to say, “to date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted.”
Swift took to Twitter to share that she has been actively trying to regain ownership of her master recordings over the last year. Scooter’s team wanted her to sign an ironclad NDA that she couldn’t speak about Scooter again before she could even look at the financial records of BMLG. Meaning that her master recordings were not for sale to her.
She shared that she received a letter a few weeks ago from Shamrock Holdings letting her know that they had purchased Swift’s music, videos, and album art from Scooter. Again occurring without her knowledge. Scooter will continue to profit off her old music catalog, even after this sale.
Elizabeth Perkin is a senior multimedia, broadcast journalist at Emerson College. She is working on completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in business studies. She is one of the AfterBuzz TV’s fall 2020 interns. Perkin loves all things entertainment and is a huge reality TV junkie!
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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