Taylor Swift said for the second time in two years, the influential music manager Scooter Braun had been bagging the master rights to her first six albums without her consent, this time selling them to a private equity firm for hundreds of millions of dollars.
She’s been trying to rebuy the rights for herself since 2019 after Braun’s holding company purchased her former home record label.
Been getting a lot of questions about the recent sale of my old masters. I hope this clears things up. pic.twitter.com/sscKXp2ibD
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 16, 2020
Swift said in a statement on Twitter that Braun, who’s also the manager of acts like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, asked her to sign an “ironclad” non-disclosure agreement (NDA) mandating she never disparage him in public before the two entered negotiations, and that he wouldn’t quote her a price on the rights.
“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 this is absolutely NOT normal, and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them off,” she wrote.
Representatives for Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), the Nashville-based independent label which sold the rights, and Shamrock Holdings, which bought the rights haven’t responded to a request for comment yet.
Braun’s media holding company bought BMLG, where the pop superstar recorded her first six albums, in 2019 for over $300 million, securing the master rights to Swift’s early work along with it. In 2018, she signed a contract for new recordings with Universal Music Group.
Following Swift allegation, Braun then sold the rights, along with 100% of her music, videos, and album art to Shamrock in recent weeks, for a reported price of more than $300 million, and mandated the investment group not notify the singer of the sale until after it was complete.
As part of the statement, Taylor Swift also included a letter she sent to Shamrock, saying she isn’t interested in any partnership with them on any business in the future because it meant enriching Braun, who will allegedly continue to profit off the catalogue for “many years” under the terms of the deal.
“I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefitting Scooter Braun’s interests directly or indirectly. 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 Braun out of my life,” she writes.
The big-time manager Braun hasn’t said much about the controversy publicly but did spoke to Variety in 2019 that he thought social media wasn’t the place to settle disagreements like this.
He said, “I just think we live in a time of toxic division, and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations. And I don’t like politicians doing it. I don’t like anybody doing it, and if that means that I’ve got to be the bad guy longer, I’ll be the bad guy longer, but I’m not going to participate.”