Taylor Swift’s music has been sold — and, once again, it was without her involvement or knowledge, the singer says.
Last year, music business veteran and mega-manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings LLC acquired Big Machine Label Group, the record label that released every Swift album through 2017’s Lover. Braun suddenly owned the entirety of Big Machine’s recorded music assets, including the master rights to those first six Swift albums. On Monday morning, the music industry started gossiping about a major new catalog sale, and Variety reported that the deal — believed to cost more than $300 million — involved Braun and Swift’s catalog. By the afternoon, Swift confirmed the rumors herself on Twitter.
“A few weeks ago my team received a letter from a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, letting us know that they had bought most of my music, videos, and album art from Scooter Braun,” the star shared online in her signature style of photo posts. “This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge. The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off.”
Swift took the opportunity to remind fans that she has been fighting to buy her own masters back for the past year. She says Braun’s team would only entertain her negotiations if she agreed to sign “an ironclad NDA” that would only allow her to see BMLG’s financial records — a standard part of the negotiation process — if she agreed to never speak negatively about Braun again. Swift says that her legal team advised her to walk away given the abnormality of such demands. “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,” she wrote.
According to Swift, she considered partnering with Shamrock until she found out — through communication with the private equity company — that the deal terms still result in Braun profiting off her old recordings for “a very long time.” She then described the idea of having a business relationship with Braun as a “non-starter” before revealing that she has, in fact, started rerecording the Big Machine-era songs. If she’s able to convince her fans to only stream the Swift-approved rereleases once they’re out, she would finally profit from those streams and downloads; but this would require fans to go out of their way to boycott those original albums, which will likely remain up on all major platforms as well.
“Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalog,” Shamrock said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered. We appreciate Taylor’s open communication and professionalism with us these last few weeks. We hope to partner with her in new ways moving forward and remain committed to investing with artists in their work.”