Scooter Braun: The drama with Taylor Swift wasn’t ‘based on anything factual’

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I’m not going to do the lengthy backstory on this, so let’s just hit the bullet points. In the summer of 2019, Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings purchased Big Machine, the record label which owned the masters of Taylor Swift’s first six albums. Big Machine was a valuable property and they owned more than just Swift’s masters, but Swift’s masters were the biggest prize in the sale. Braun and his investors purchased Big Machine for over $300 million. Taylor Swift did what she does best, misrepresented what she knew and what was actually said, and she sent her Snake Army out to doxx and harass Scooter, his employees and his wife. Scooter’s wife called her out publicly, as did many of the music industry professionals in and around the deal.

In 2020 – about one year exactly after Braun purchased Big Machine – he sold off the Swift masters alone to Shamrock for about what he paid for all of Big Machine. Taylor has been re-recording her Big Machine-associated albums with the hope of making the original masters less profitable, but that’s not the way it worked out. Braun sold her masters and he was left with the rest of Big Machine’s assets, plus his other companies and clients. Then a few months ago, he sold Ithaca Holdings to a South Korean outfit, HYBE, for over a billion dollars. He made a profit of more than $400 million personally. Braun is winning. And Taylor is winning too. Anyway, Braun covers the latest issue of Variety where he discusses a lot of business, his goals for the future and… Taylor Swift. You can read the full piece here. The Swift-related parts:

Sharing $50 million in stock allotments between 43 people in the HYBE deal: “To take care of the people that helped me get there… It was a way of saying, “You’ve been here for me. Now everything I do, you’re participating in.” It made everybody win at the same time together, which was important to me because I learned from mistakes of the past [that] you’ve got to make sure everybody is on the same page. So in this deal, there were no losers.

How he sees the Taylor Swift drama in retrospect: “I regret and it makes me sad that Taylor had that reaction to the deal. … All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual. I don’t know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused. I offered to sell her the catalog back and went under NDA, but her team refused. It all seems very unfortunate. Open communication is important and can lead to understanding. She and I only met briefly three or four times in the past, and all our interactions were really friendly and kind. I find her to be an incredibly talented artist and wish her nothing but the best.

Variety notes the differing stories: Swift said in Nov. 2020, “He would never even quote my team a price” and that she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would “silence [her] forever.” Braun’s team disputes the claim and says negotiations had started in earnest.

How Taylor attacked him personally: “The thing that struck me the worst is the word “bully.” I’m firmly against anyone ever being bullied. I always try to lead with appreciation and understanding. The one thing I’m proudest of in that moment was that my artists and team stood by me. They know my character and my truth. That meant a lot to me. In the long run, I’m happy for my life’s work to be the legacy I leave behind.

Whether the Swift chapter created misconceptions: ”Sure. And I think when you’re successful, you are misunderstood. Success is a game of chess, and sometimes on that chessboard, people don’t see what you’re doing until four or five moves in. There’s always going to be misconceptions because people want to see things the way they want to see them. But it would be really nice if we all give each other a little bit of grace.

[From Variety]

What I remember about the 2019 Big Machine sale – and I looked over my coverage at the time just now – is how heavily Taylor leaned into this idea that she was completely caught off guard, that no one told her anything, that she was a little lamb being led to the slaughter of these terrible men. And… very little of that was true. People would have been on her side regardless of what she argued or said, so why did she continuously misrepresent what were on-the-record business deals and negotiations? In any case, they both came out ahead, so it is what it is.

Cover courtesy of Variety.

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36 Responses to “Scooter Braun: The drama with Taylor Swift wasn’t ‘based on anything factual’”

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  1. Sam the Pink says:

    I mean, isn’t it a bigger issue than these two – that very few artists actually have control over their own recordings and images? Like, I can remember this going back to Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, and Jackson snatching up the Beatles and then licensing “Revolution” to Nike, which incensed Paul, but he acknowledged he couldn’t really do much about it, since the sale was fine and legal. Seems like this is a far bigger issue than Taylor and this douche (and yes, he’s a douche because he unleased Bieber on all of us).

    • Merricat says:

      Yes, the bigger issue gets lost in the reactions to both Braun and Swift. The music industry is one of the most screwed up businesses for artists.

      • Louise177 says:

        It was bizarre how Taylor claimed she was a bullying victim when this is the norm. Musicians not owning their music has been an issue since the beginning of time but Taylor made it all about her. Very narcissistic to believe that someone would spend millions of dollars just to annoy you.

  2. Lex says:

    Swift fans STILL act like Scooter Braun is the worst man to ever exist. It’s just funny because when she left Big Machine originally, she was quoted as saying she knew she was leaving her masters behind and she was fine with that, because she liked the deal with her new label more. Then when it came out as Scooter buying Big Machine, that’s when she changed her tune that she was never offered a chance to own her masters, that it was crappy that someone bought them, etc. Taylor lies quite a bit to fit a narrative, and her fans blindly follow her. It’s a problem but I don’t think it’ll ever change.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      This. Girl embodies the selfish, privileged white feminist to a tee and her fans happily eat it up.

    • CC2 says:

      @lex, you’re twisting facts. Nah. Taylor said she tried to buy her masters, but was told she can earn it if she stayed and put out an album for each album she wants to own. She said that she wanted to leave the label because she knew that new management was coming in, the label wanted to keep her on because she is the most profitable artist there so they didn’t let her bid for her masters. She gave up and walked away (she didn’t just go to a new label because she liked it better-that’s a half truth. She went to a new label because they told her she will have the masters of the stuff she made, unlike her old label), but then found out the masters were given to Scooter which made her angry. According to her, Scooter had done underhanded stuff that the label manger (Scott) knew. So it felt like a personal betrayal because they all knew Taylor’s feelings about Scooter. Taylor’s father, a shareholder, didn’t knew or approve about the sale to Scooter (something about him opting out due to conflict of interest).

      on top of all of this, Scott was a close family friend to Taylor. He was the man that discovered her and went up to her and her dad with the idea of a label (the label was more or less created for her).

      Scooter is a snake and it’s not a surprise that his artists seem to have some sort of issues.

      • Lex says:

        Dude, what? I’m not twisting facts. She DID say she was content with leaving Big Machine and her masters, because what her new label offered was a better option. I’m not lying, making stuff up, or twisting anything. Taylor said this. She only got upset because it was Scooter. Like people have said before, owning your masters has been an issue with many artists before Taylor. THAT should have been her platform. She made it her vs Scooter, and it’s weird that her fans bully this man and his family when it’s business. She got a career out of that contract she signed. She’s re-recording and will own her new masters. This victim hood you give Taylor is weird as hell.

    • Betsy says:

      It’s odd to me the level of vitriol that Taylor Swift fans come in for across the board here when the Beyhive and BTS/Kpop fans do not get it.

  3. Oh_Hey says:

    Scouter Braun is terrible but not for this. Her father founded big machine for her to get a record deal. He was made aware of the sale beforehand. Additionally no artist typically owns their masters – Jay z is currently in a suit about his first album being sold as an NFT.

    Victim Swift strikes again.

    • Humbugged says:

      Her father DID NOT CREATE BIG MACHINE .Borchetta and Toby Keith started the label her dad owned 3% as of 2014

      • Oy_Hey says:

        Its literally on her wiki page that be bought that 3% when they had almost no artists and they then immediately signed her…
        there’s two sources including a rolling stone article detailing this…

      • Humbugged says:

        Her dad did not found the label, and was a minor shareholder

  4. Becks1 says:

    I think Taylor misplayed this situation. This is a problem with the music industry in general and she made it sound like it was a personal vendetta and Scooter was out to get her. No, Scooter was out to make money, which he did.

    This could have been a bigger situation about the rights to masters and how the music industry works etc but instead it boiled down to Taylor vs Scooter.

    • CC2 says:

      @becks1 I don’t think she grossly misplayed it though. Her fans are really young and rather ignorant about the music business. Her being extremely transparent about all of this (even to a fault) made them more aware. Olivia Rodrigo and even Selena Gomez now owns their masters for their songs. The former credits Taylor for it, the latter is Taylor’s close friend and is using the same model Taylor suggested (own your masters but you license it to your label)

      • Becks1 says:

        @CC2 I’m talking in terms of the PR war. She made it Taylor v Scooter. FFS her fans were calling his wife and threatening her – like that’s not an acknowledgment that “this is a typical music industry practice but it sucks and here’s why.”

  5. Lauren says:

    There was a bit of grumbling from Taylor’s fandom about HYBE’s purchase, but seeing that HYBE is the mother company of Big Hit Entertainment which is the company of BTS they woke up the beast that is BTS’ Army and they shut that sht down fast!

    • Snuffles says:

      Big Hit was built on BTS’s backs. Each member was issued thousands of shares which I think are worth $20 million for each member now. Each of them are deeply involved in every BTS related property and business venture.

      So BTS = Big Hit = HYBE. And the BTS ARMY considers themselves BTS’s protectors. In short, don’t even THINK about coming for BTS.

      • Lauren says:

        I know! Proud Army member here! You touch anything near those men and you’ve got several million people coming after you. I think we might be worse than the Beehive and that is scary.

      • Faye G says:

        Another proud ARMY here, I agree that anyone who decides to go after BTS is in for a bad time!

    • Sophie says:

      That is HILARIOUS and the best part of this whole saga

  6. Popop says:

    Hmm… isn’t this they guy who was literally writing online that he “owns taylor swift”? Yeah a real innocent guy.

  7. Wellpoopsie says:

    He’s gross. I don’t understand why anyone is giving this privileged white boy any more time to flex. Is he someone with talent? Skill? What and who is he? Is being a rich asshole a talent now? He does “publicity”? Eyeroll.

    The fight with Taylor is not unjustified. If some piece of shit white boy bought my life’s work – I’d be furious too. Period. Regardless of how it happened. And if he’s friends and “managing” people I don’t like – I would feel even weirder too. Cut Taylor a break – she might be dramatic but she works her ass off.

    • Humbugged says:

      She shouldn’t have signed the deal then

    • Evie says:

      Eh Taylor is also white, so don’t make it a race thing. It’s white white. Taylor doesn’t care about race, so stop

      • Beach Dreams says:

        Thank you. She’s proven your last statement multiple times, the latest being earlier this year when she stayed silent as her rabid fanbase racially abused the cast of that Netflix show. These are two petty rich white people fighting. That’s it.

  8. Darla says:

    Nah. He insisted she sign an NDA before any negotiations could begin. Anyone giving this dude the benefit of the doubt is doing it because they don’t like Swift, period. Imagine if someone told Meghan to sign an NDA. The swords would be out. LOL. But you’d be right. Here, you’re wrong.

    • AEvaJohnson says:


    • L says:


      • Humbugged says:

        Much easier to set her fans onto his family

        Maybe he wanted an NDA as she was negotiating via he
        r fans and the press. And Meghan was talking in private up until they left and then took a year to explain herself

    • EllieK says:

      Just so you know, NDAs are almost always required in the entertainment industry, it’s an incredibly standard business practice. I work in media myself and every newspaper, magazine, website company and cable network I’ve work for have made me sign NDAs prior to working. I respect Taylor’s song writing, but the whole “wahh mean bully tried to make me sign an NDA before doing business” angle is just a PR ploy to help solidify her constant “victim” image.

  9. Sara says:

    I thought that was Ben Platt on the cover.

  10. Likeyoucare says:

    Scooter is a businessman and who is also a bully. He is targetting taylor behind the scene for years.

    Taylor is like a child when handling all the harrasment and when not getting her way. She loves the drama, its her trademark in writing song and selling her album.

    But with these two people, scooter is a dick. I love how taylor make his life difficult. His goals is to be A POLITICIAN and taylor has manage to block him so far. Go taylor.

    • Becks1 says:

      Scooter doesn’t want to be a politician. He wants to be the money behind the politicians.

    • Lex says:

      You love that Taylor and her fans send death threats to his wife and kids? Ok. Other than that, I don’t see how she makes his life difficult. He already sold her masters and made a profit.