In the words of Taylor Swift's latest single, everybody needs to calm down. The singer sent the music industry into a tailspin this weekend after posting a charged message on Tumblr Sunday night calling out her former label, Big Machine, for selling her masters (every song and album she's written up until November 2018) to mega-producer and entrepreneur Scooter Braun. Braun works with huge names like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and most recently, Demi Lovato, but in the midst of building his music and tech empire (his company SB Projects also invests in companies like Spotify and Uber), Swift claims the 38-year-old has been a bully. She says he played a role in the poor treatment she received after Kim Kardashian's infamous Snapchat, and that now, thanks to his $300 million purchase in acquiring her previous label, he owns the rights to all her original work.
The most debated about claim in the note is that she heard of the purchase, and thus the state of all her masters, on Sunday morning with the rest of the world. Swift felt deprived of key knowledge regarding her life's work. However, Scott Borchetta, founder and CEO of Big Machine Records, disputes this claim, along with Braun's wife, Yael Cohen Braun. Borchetta specifically says Swift's father, also named Scott, was informed of the sale five days before it became public.
In response, a spokesperson told People, "Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been. On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty. Her dad did not join that call because he did not want to be required to withhold any information from his own daughter. Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta and he did not call her in advance."
On social media, prominent artists and other music executives are at each other's throats taking sides. #WeStandWithTaylor has been trending on Twitter all morning.
This type of message isn't out of character for Swift, who caused a similar stir back in 2014 when she wrote an op-ed about the way she felt Spotify's streaming model devalued artists, and then again in 2015 to Apple for similar reasons. She's no stranger to sticking out her neck in the music industry, but this time, it's personal. Here's everything else you need to know.
What Did Scooter Braun Do To Taylor Swift?
In her Tumblr post, Swift accuses Braun of "incessant, manipulative bullying," in particular citing an Instagram posted by Justin Bieber in which he, Braun, and Kanye West are on FaceTime. "Taylor Swift what up" Bieber captioned the post, an obvious reference to the singer's public feud with West.
"When I left my masters in Scott [Borchetta]’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter," Swift wrote in the post. "Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever."
Why Did Taylor Swift Respond On Tumblr?
Tumblr is pretty much the only place where Swift interacts with her fans. She is often seen lurking in the likes and reblogging memes made by her supporters, unlike her Twitter and Instagram, which are more official, and the latter of which has comments turned off. However, she also uses Tumblr for longer, more important announcements, including her 2015 letter to Apple Music and her recent petition to support the Equality Act.
So, Why Is Justin Bieber Involved?
Well, because of the aforementioned Instagram post, and his new Instagram post responding to Swift's post ("say post one more time" "post").
View this post on Instagram
Hey Taylor. First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive.. I have to be honest though it was my caption and post that I screenshoted of scooter and Kanye that said “taylor swift what up” he didnt have anything to do with it and it wasnt even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that.. Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.! As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter. Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you. I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont believe solves anything. I’m sure Scooter and i would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or or any feelings that need to be addressed. Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line..
In it, he apologizes to Swift for the insensitive Instagram with West and Braun, but says Braun did not know about the caption. He then goes on to criticize Swift for making this public, but says he and Braun both "love" Swift.
"I’m sure Scooter and i would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or or any feelings that need to be addressed," he wrote. "Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you."
What Did Scooter Braun's Wife, Yael Cohen Braun, Say?
Cohen was a bit more spicy. In a series of notes posted to Instagram, she contradicted Swift's claims that she didn't know about the sale until the morning it was publicly announced. She also called out the artist for inciting bullying with her post, adding "the world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers." She also claims Braun had been trying to stop the bullying of Swift from behind the scenes, and that he tried to make peace multiple times.
Braun reposted this message on his Instagram story.
What Is Big Machine Label Group?
Created by Scott Borchetta, Big Machine was Swift's record label up until November 2018, when her contract expired and she signed with Republic Records. They were the label that represented her for all six of her albums — until Lover.
Who Are Other Big Machine Record Artists?
Big Machine boasts artists like Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, and Sheryl Crow. Full list can be found here.
What Does Taylor Swift Want?
At the end of the post, Swift doesn't demand back ownership of her music (something only a few artists have successfully done, at least publicly), but instead says the post is a warning.
"Hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn about how to better protect themselves in a negotiation," she wrote. "You deserve to own the art you make."
Then, she acknowledges that her past belongs to Big Machine, and says it is behind her. Instead, she'd like fans to focus on her future — Lover, out August 23.