Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift just reignited the flame of her very public legal battle with her former record label Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun, and the fight is getting uglier by the second. Earlier this summer, Swift revealed via Tumblr that label head Scott Borchetta had sold the rights to her masters to hotshot producer Scooter Braun, who played a major role in her renewed beef with rapper Kanye West. The opposing parties have been exchanging fiery allegations for months over social media, with many industry insiders and A-listers chiming in with their two cents about the debacle.
Swift, whose latest album Lover marks her return to the music world after a brief hiatus following promotion and touring for her controversial 2016 album reputation, has been outspoken about the deal's personal and professional impact since she first learned about it in June. Many things have happened since the business deal that shook up the music industry — here's how it all went down.
June 2019: Taylor Swift Posts About Scooter Braun On Social Media
Swift took to blogging platform Tumblr to inform her fanbase that Braun had bought Big Machine Records for $300 million. As part of the mega deal between Braun and label head Borchetta (a deal which Swift alleges she had no prior knowledge of), the music manager and entrepreneur acquired full ownership of Swift’s masters. Every song that the singer made prior her 2018 move to Republic Records had become Braun’s property.
More painful than the sting of not having full ownership of her work was the fact that Braun now had complete control over it. Swift and Braun have been at odds for some time now, much of the bad blood between them stemming from his involvement in the second leg of her feud with Kanye West. (And, by extension, his wife Kim Kardashian-West)
Big Machine Records wasted no time responding to Swift's accusations. Borchetta drafted a long list of receipts in an attempts to refute the singer's claims that she was never given the opportunity to buy her masters and found out about the acquisition after it happened. He also asserted that Braun "has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music."
July 2019: Scooter Braun Speaks Out
Braun remained silent in the early days of the controversy, choosing instead to quietly like and repost content shared across the Internet. In late July, he and Borchetta spoke to Billboard about their $300 million deal, but the duo made sure to not spill too much about their falling out with Swift.
August 2019: Taylor Swift Announces That She Will Record Her Old Music
The 29-year-old sat down with Tracy Smith on a special edition of CBS Sunday Morning to discuss the controversy. During the interview, Swift stated that she was "absolutely" going back to the studio to rerecord her first five studio albums.
November 2019: Taylor Swift Calls On Fans For Support Once Again
Swift shared a disheartening new development in her legal fight against Borchetta and Braun on Twitter, saying that the two were working together to limit her professional opportunities. The singer had successfully negotiated a deal with streaming giant Netflix that resulted in a documentary about her life — she claims that Borchetta and Braun had barred the company from using any of her old music (including footage from her past performances) in the project.
Swift, who is set to receive the coveted Artist of the Year Award at the 2019 American Music Awards, also revealed that she had originally planned to perform a medley of her original songs spanning the last ten years. As a result of Borchetta and Braun's "tyrannical control," she would not be allowed to perform songs from her first five albums. Swift then asked her fans to let Borchetta and Braun know how this affected them.
Big Machine Records issued a statement shortly after Swift published her tweet, claiming that the singer's call-out to the Swifties was harmful and could potentially put the company's employees and their families in danger. "Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist," the statement said.
Swift's team fired back with their own receipts, which included the stunning revelation that the record label owes the singer almost $8 million in unpaid royalties.