Taylor Swift was not pleased when fans began alerting her Thursday to the impending release of a live album from her early days as a recording artist, taking to social media to slam Big Machine for being “tasteless” and showing “shameless greed” in exploiting her catalog by putting out “Live from Clear Channel Stripped 2008” on Friday.
In her ire, Swift did not hesitate to call out not just Scooter Braun but individual investors she sees as being at fault for enabling his investment in Big Machine last year, claiming, hyperbolically or otherwise, that they must need money after overpaying for her catalog.
“I’m always honest with you guys about this stuff,” Swift wrote in an Instagram Stories post, “so I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me. It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and The Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money.” (This last sentence was accompanied by a laughing-till-you’re-crying emoticon.)
“In my opinion… Just another case of shameless greed in the time of Coronavirus,” she continued. “So tasteless, but very transparent.”
“Hey guys,” Swift began her message. “I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is put out an ‘album’ of live performances of mine tonight. This recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was 18. Big Machine has listed the date as a 2017 release but they’re actually releasing it tonight at midnight.”
While there has been no official comment from Big Machine, insiders say the material was made available to DSPs after a license for the live show was expired and got renewed, and that the label has no expectation of a windfall from the album, but is likely to make $60,000 to $80,000 in a year from it being available for streaming.
Insiders with knowledge of the thinking at the label camp say this was considered a routine release of material that had already been out publicly and that, despite Swift’s well-known feelings about the handling of her catalog, there was no deliberate intention of antagonizing the singer. (The label is known to have a library of Swift tracks that have never been come out in any form, which it maintains it has the right to release, although there are not known to be any plans to do so.)
Has “Live from Clear Channel Stripped 2008” been previously released? Never in album form. However, three of the songs have gotten a limited official release in physical form in years past. Two trackss from that radio session appeared as videos on a bonus DVD included with a Target-exclusive deluxe edition of “Fearless” that came out in 2009 and is now rare. A third was included on a B-side to a picture-disc single that Big Machine put out last year, after Swift left the label. The remaining five songs seem to have circulated as fan uploads, ripped from the original 2008 broadcast on Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia).
As for the 2017 mystery date, there’s no indication that the album or any of its songs had any kind of official release during that year. It’s believed that the release year might have been backdated to prevent it from popping up on top of chronological DSP listings ahead of the first studio album she made under her Universal Music deal, 2019’s “Lover.”
Although the disputed live album remained unavailable for streaming Thursday, a search on Spotify and other services did reveal placeholder listings for fans to “save” the album before it becomes available in the morning hours Friday.