So...Big Machine Records Might Have Messed With Taylor Swift's Albums on Spotify

Starr Bowenbank, Mehera Bonner

From Cosmopolitan

  • Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun were publicly feuding in November after she called out Scooter and Scott Borchetta for exerting “tyrannical control” over her music.
  • Taylor claimed Scooter and Scott wouldn’t let her play old songs at the 2019 AMAs and refused to let her include any older Taylor performances in her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana. Scooter told a different story.
  • Now, Taylor's accusing Scooter and her former label of planning to release an album of her music without her consent. And they might have tampered with her old album releases on Spotify behind her back.

Remember when Taylor Swift called out celebrity manager Scooter Braun for purchasing her masters and bullying her in a lengthy Tumblr post? Well, Taylor went back for round two (and three)...and honestly, it seemed pretty justifiable.

Here’s the lowdown on why Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun dislike each other and why trouble with Big Machine Records might be brewing (again).

It all started with a fight over Taylor’s music masters.

Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun’s fight had legs beyond just the 2019 AMAs or her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana). In a nutshell, Taylor left Big Machine Records (where she recorded her first six albums), then Scooter Braun acquired them, which means he’s now in control of most of her work. Taylor was NOT happy about that, especially since she had been trying to buy back her own masters herself.

Neither of them seem to agree on the series of events, though, and you can read all about that background here.

Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris - Getty Images

Things kicked into high gear with a Tumblr post.

In a November 14, 2019 Tumblr post (where else?) titled “Don’t know what else to do,” Taylor slammed Scooter and Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta for allegedly preventing her from performing her old songs during a medley at the 2019 AMAs, where Taylor received the Artist of the Decade award.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

She added that Netflix created a documentary about her and that Scott and Scooter declined the use of her older music and performance footage for the project. And apparently, the only way they would have let her have access was if she didn’t record “copycat versions” of her old songs, and if she stopped talking about them altogether.

“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,” Taylor said. “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.”

Taylor also asked fans to “let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this,” adding that they could lean on the other artists Scooter manages (Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber, to name a few!).

“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,” Taylor said, later adding, “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 AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.”

Big Machine Records then fired back in a lengthy statement of its own.

The feud only got nastier after that, you guys. The day after Taylor’s Tumblr post went live, Big Machine Records, Taylor’s former label, issued a very lengthy statement on its website and straight-up said, “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist,” which eep!

The statement read:

“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.”

Oh, and if this whole situation wasn’t already messy enough, Big Machine also accused Taylor of “contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career.”

The statement continued and requested a private conversation with Taylor to sort the matter out:

“We have worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward. We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. 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.

“Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation. When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side. To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumors fester in the absence of communication. Let’s not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”

Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images

Team Taylor vehemently disagreed.

The same day Big Machine Records dropped their statement, Tree Paine—Taylor’s representative—issued her own statement claiming that Big Machine indeed denied Taylor the opportunity to use her old music in her AMAs performance.

Oh! And that other part when Big Machine claimed Taylor owed them a million dollars? Yeahhh, Tree said that was a lie too, and Big Machine actually owes Taylor $7.9 million in unpaid royalties.

Tree posted this in an official statement to her Twitter page that had all the tea and BOY—it was hella dramatic. She wrote:

“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 re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects: The Netflix documentary and The Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event.

“To avoid an argument over right, Taylor performed three songs off her new album Lover at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement. In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.

“Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them, but an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”

Good news: Taylor got the green light to play her music at the AMAs!

Justice was served! Nine days before the AMAs, a Big Machine executive told TMZ that “Taylor Swift can 100% perform all of her catalog, past and present, on the AMAs,” which sounded great, but like...huh?

Apparently, the true holdup on Big Machine’s end was that they weren’t certain of what happens to a live AMAs broadcast after airing on television. So Big Machine, along with Dick Clark Productions, clarified that Taylor can perform any of her songs at the show—including re-broadcasts.

The companies reached out to TMZ to issue a joint statement and said:

“The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists’ performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms.

“This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances. It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media.”

Scooter said Taylor’s fans were threatening his children and asked her to intervene publicly. She did not.

Scooter spoke publicly on the issue two days before the AMAS—after six months of silence, mind you— and called the entire thing a “miscommunication” at heart.

He added that he received some pretty horrible blowback for being involved. He also said some Swifties have gone as far as threatening the lives of his children.

Taylor performed her music at the AMAs with a hefty side of shade.

Once AMAs day finally arrived, Taylor performed some of her biggest hits from her catalog and of course, there was some shade thrown in for some good measure...but it was so quick honestly that you might have missed it.

As Taylor performed, the background lit up and literally looked just like the Big Machine Records logo. A coincidence? I think not!

She also performed wearing an oversized men’s T-shirt with all the names of her albums on it (including the albums that Scooter’s in control of) while singing “The Man” (what else?) with a young girl.

Photo credit: John Shearer/AMA2019 - Getty Images

Aaaaand the feud reignited in April 2020.

Five months after the AMAs, Taylor brought it to everyone’s attention that Big Machine allegedly has plans to release an old performance of hers that’s more than 10 years old as a live album...and on top of that, she claimed it was a shady attempt on Scooter and Co.’s behalf to make back the money they lost from purchasing her masters.

She wrote:

Hey guys—I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is putting 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.

I’m always honest with you guys about this stuff so I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me. It looks 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

In my opinion...just another case of shameless greed in the time of coronavirus. So tasteless, but very transparent.

Photo credit: Instagram

Swifties reportedly found evidence of Big Machine Records being up to no good.

Twitter account @TaylorSwiftNZ did some digging and found out that the original old copies of Taylor's albums only show up in the app's search function, and are nowhere to be found on her Spotify page. Instead, the only albums that come up on Taylor's Spotify are Big Machine's.

To combat this, other Swifties started making and sharing Spotify playlists with the original album versions so Taylor can get the revenue instead of Scooter and Big Machine.

Taylor has yet to comment on this, but something tells me that she is watching!

Keep your eyes peeled here for further updates—something tells me this won’t be the last we’ll hear about this Taylor Swift–Scooter Braun–Big Machine Records beef.

You Might Also Like