Scooter Braun just had a big payday. Nearly a year a half after Braun acquired the master rights to Taylor Swift ’s first 6 records, the music executive and entrepreneur has sold them to a private investor. According to Variety, the deal is believed to be north of $300 million and closed a few weeks ago. After news broke Monday, Swift took to Twitter to clear the air, call out Braun, and express her disappointment that her masters have been sold without her knowledge for the second time.
Swift signed with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label group in 2006 and had a six-album deal that ended with the release of her 2017 album Reputation. Swift then opted to sign a new contract with Universal Music Group, a decision she called, “excruciating” on her Tumblr account. But leaving the agency meant leaving behind the control of all her master recordings- “Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.” The singer shared on her account.
While Swift was aware she was leaving behind her masters, she wasn‘t expecting her nemesis to be the future owner of them. In June 2019, Braun’s Ithaca Holdings LLC acquired Big Machine Label Group and all of its recorded music assets for more than $300 million. The assets included the master rights to the first 6 Swift albums. Swift slammed Braun for purchasing her masters and said she was “grossed out.” The singer explained on Tumblr, “Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.” She continued, “This is my worst case scenario. This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.”
At the Billboard 2019 Women in Music event, Swift took time during her acceptance speech to call out Braun and the industries toxic masculinity. “This just happened to me without my approval, consultation or consent. After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings…” Swift explained.
After the news broke Friday that Braun had sold her masters again, Swift took it to Twitter to “clear things up.” She posted two screenshots- a long letter to fans and correspondence between her at the investment company that purchased her masters. She captioned the Tweet, “Been getting a lot of questions about the recent sale of my old masters. I hope this clears things up.” Swift explains in the letter, “As you know, for the past year I‘ve been actively trying to regain ownership of my master recordings. With that goal in mind, my team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun. Scooters team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature.” Swift continued, “So I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work. My legal team said that this is absolutely not normal and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silent a sexual assault accuser by paying them off. He would never even quote my team a price. These Master recordings were not for sale to me.”
Swift then explained that the private equity company that bought the masters reached out to Swift to try and work with her. “A few weeks ago my team received a letter from a private Equity company called Shamrock Holdings letting us know that they had bought 100% of my music videos and album art from Scooter Braun. This was the second time my music have been sold without my knowledge. The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that they make no contact with me or my team or the deal would be off.” Swift continued, “As soon as we started communication with Shamrock I learned that under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off my old musical catalog for many years. I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock, but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.” Swift then told fans what she has up her sleeve, “I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling. I have plenty of surprises in store. I want to thank you guys for supporting me through this ongoing saga, and I can‘t wait for you to hear what I’ve been dreaming up. I love you guys and I’m just going to keep cruising as they say.” Swift’s letter concluded with “PS: For transparency and clarification, I‘ve included the letter of response I sent on October 28th, 2022 the private Equity Group who purchased my music.”
Swift’s response to the group read, “Thank you so very much for your letter. Upon reading your kind words I was thrilled with the idea of working with people who value art and understand how much my life’s work means to me. I immediately began to plan all the ways we could work together on expanding and protecting my music while maximizing the outcomes for all involved, especially my fans.” The singer continued, “So, regardless of the fact that it was the second time my masters have been sold without my knowledge while I was actively trying to purchase them, your letter brought me a great deal of hope for a musical legacy and our possible future together. This is why I was so disappointed when I learned under the terms of your acquisition Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings would continue to receive many years of future financial reward from my music masters, music videos and album artwork.”
Swift then made it clear she was going to do anything she needs to keep Braun out of her life. “If I support you as you request, I will be contributing to these future payments to Scooter Braun’s and Ithaca holdings. I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefiting Scooter Braun’s interest directly or indirectly. As a result, I cannot currently entertain being partners with you. It’s a shame to know that I will now be unable to help grow the future of these past works and it pains me very deeply to remain separated from the music I spent over a decade creating. But this is a sacrifice I will have to make to keep Scooter run out of my life. I’m very sorry he has put you in this position. I wish this could have had a better outcome and please do let me know if your firm is ever completely independent from Scooter Braun and his associates.” Swift concluded her letter with, “I feel the need to be very transparent with you. I’ll be going forward with my original re-recording schedule and will be embracing on that effort soon. I know this will diminish the value of my old Masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing any songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefiting scooter.”
Naturally, Swift’s fan’s or “Swifties” were livid to hear the news. Braun has since turned off comments for his latest Instagram posts.