Taylor Swift has been scheduled to perform a medley of her older hits as part of the celebration of her Artist of the Decade honor at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, but now the superstar says that appearance is “a question mark.”
Swift penned an open letter titled “Don’t Know What Else To Do” to her fans on social media on Nov. 14, stating that SB Projects’ Scooter Braun and her former label head, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, are not allowing her to include her older hits from her six-album catalog recorded under BMLG in the performance. Swift states they have refused to allow her to perform her older songs “because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”
She also revealed that a documentary on her life has been in the works with Netflix, and claims that Braun and Borchetta are also prohibiting the use of her songs recorded during her time at BMLG to be used as part of the documentary. According to Swift’s message, she says she was told by Big Machine that the use of her older material would be allowed only if she agreed “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.”
In June, Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine, including the master recordings to Swift’s albums recorded under BMLG. Approximately one year ago, Swift announced her exit from BMLG and a new recording contract with Universal Music Group’s Republic Records.
Swift’s message to her fans, in full, is 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 AMAs, 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.”
Big Machine Label Group responded Friday morning (Nov. 15) via a blog on the label’s official site, denying Swift’s allegations regarding the use of her earlier recorded music on the American Music Awards and in the Netflix special. BMLG’s statement is below in full:
“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.”
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