Op-Ed

Big Machine Bans Taylor Swift From Performing Her Own Songs, Then Lies About It.

If it’s one thing former Big Machine Label President Scott Borchetta and newly acquired owner, Scooter Braun do well, it’s lie. While their statements and tactics fool some fans, they don’t hold up to those paying attention, (those that actually care about the truth and not believing the lies told just to continue the hate towards 10x GRAMMY winner and AMA Artist of the Decade, Taylor Swift).

Earlier this summer, Swift let the world know that her masters were being sold to one of the most manipulative men in the industry, Braun. She expressed hurt that her entire back catalog (previous first six albums) would be in the hands of the man responsible for bringing her such pain over the years, something Borchetta knew about.

Despite both men claiming that she was over exaggerating and was informed of the decision, she was left out of that information until right before the entire world found out. Borchetta claims he sent Swift a text message the night before, but Swift was in another country, and well, time zones. By the time she got to her phone, she had hundreds of notifications alerting her about the sale of her masters, before she even had the opportunity to read said text message. Regardless, letting someone know the night before the entire world finds out is hardly “advanced notice.”

Now even more details are being uncovered. Swift recently performed at an event in China where she was supposed to play at least 5 songs. She however, only got to perform 3 (all from her current album Lover, which Big Machine does not own). She was told that performing any of her older songs would count as re-recording (since the performance was taped and broadcast) her work before she was eligible (she will currently be allowed to release re-recordings next year). It makes sense now why fans were confused why her set list got cut short (no, she wasn’t trying to screw over fans, Big Machine was screwing her over).

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On Thursday, 11/14/19, Swift took to her social accounts, telling her peers and supporters that she “didn’t know what else to do.” She (no doubt) feels trapped and helpless as she had plans to perform a medley of her songs at the American Music Awards in two weeks, where she is being honored as Artist of the Decade. Since the show is taped and televised, she was informed by Big Machine that she would not be allowed to perform her old songs, as that would again count as re-recording her music.

Swift further revealed that she has an upcoming documentary special with Netflix (this was not how she wanted to announce it) but that Big Machine would not authorize its release since it contains recordings of her back catalog. In the heartbreaking post Swift informs readers of her ongoing battle.

Read her full statement below:

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 AMA’s, 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.

Taylor

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Friday, 11/15/19, Big Machine denied Swift’s statement but also didn’t direct deny they were false. They never said they specifically wouldn’t let her perform her songs at the AMAs, they rather diverted the public by stating they never said she couldn’t perform her songs, as legally they cannot keep her from doing so. This could also be a factor into why Swift has not planned any major tour, as she would probably not be allowed to record the concerts and release them later (as she has been known to do). Swift released her Netflix special following the Reputation tour, prior to the sale of her back catalog. Now, Swift would be unable to video any of her performances until November, 2020. So although Swift can perform her songs live, there cannot be any recordings of them, which is why she technically would not be allowed to perform her back catalog at the AMAs.

So it seems that Big Machine are really the ones who are being “calculating” as they have called Swift. Ironically enough, Swift stated in her interview with CBS Sunday Morning that “when a man does something it’s strategic, when a woman does something, it’s calculated.

The statement from Swift’s rep is below:

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 rights, 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.

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Once again, Big Machine tried to play the victim and manipulate the public into feeling sorry for them by stating Swift is somehow hurting their 120 employees, another false allegation. They state Swift owes them money (which has not been proved), but even if she did, the company is not withholding payment to their employees pending Swift’s payments to them. Furthermore, Swift is no longer a member of their label, they manage tons of other artists, who are what, not earning the label any money? Please, their entire statement is just a manipulated tactic to make themselves seem like the victim, which oddly enough is what so many haters have accused Swift of pretending to be in the past.

See their full statement below:

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 in which we do not financially participate.

The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career. 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.

Big Machine is obviously very scared about Swift re-recording her back catalog, which she will be eligible for in one year as it will significantly decrease her masters value, which they are currently profiting off of. Swift’s back catalog is the only reason Big Machine sold for $300 million and the reason they tried to manipulate her into agreeing to not re-record them if they gave her permission to perform her medley and release her documentary.

Apparently Big Machine has not learned that you cannot go up against Taylor Swift and win. They did not learn the first time around that she cannot be manipulated into giving them what they want in order for her to get what she wants. Swift is not only fighting for herself, but for the thousands of artists who struggle with these same issues. Many of which have been sharing similar stories. This is not a selfish fight.

Remember back to when Swift fought for artists to be paid royalties on streaming platforms, and that she would not add her catalog to Apple Music unless they agreed to pay artists for the first three months that subscribers don’t have to pay. She didn’t do those things because she is greedy and wants more money, she did that because she has a voice and she used it to change a system that was broken. If only others would follow suit.

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