Taylor Swift has taken to social media to tell fans that Scott Borchetta, her former label head at Big Machine Records, and his new partner Scooter Braun are trying to nix her plans for a retrospective performance at the American Music Awards, as well as denying the use of her recordings for a documentary she has only now revealed.
Swift made the surprising allegations in posts on her Instagram story, Facebook and Twitter — the latter under the caption: “Don’t know what else to do.”
Swift says in her posts that the Big Machine team told her she would be allowed the use of her old songs only if she agreed not to re-record them in the future — a non-starter for her, she says — and if she affirmed she would not speak negatively going forward.
Embedded in her plea to fans to make their feelings known to Braun and Borchetta is what might be referred to as burying the lead: Swift says Netflix has been working on a documentary about her for several years. “This isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news,” she writes.
Normally, performing older material live when the master recordings are held by someone else shouldn’t require permission, except Swift claims that Borchetta and Braun are contending that a performance of them on the AMAs constitutes “re-recording them before I’m allowed to next year.”
It’s a busy news day in Swift’s world: The skirmish with Borchetta and Braun almost overshadows the happier announcement made 10 hours previously that the original song she co-wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the “Cats” film, “Beautiful Ghosts,” will appear on digital services at midnight.
Variety has reached out to Big Machine for comment.
Swift’s message in full:
“Guys – It’s been announced recently that the American Music Awards will be honoring me with the Artist of the Decade Award at this year’s ceremony. I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. 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. Additionally — and this isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.
“Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.
“I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.
“This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans. So this is where I’m asking for your help.
“Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. 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. I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men.
“I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it. 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 AMAs, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.
“I love you guys and I thought you should know what’s been going on.”
More on the Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun feud: