Taylor Swift sent the internet ablaze Sunday with a scathing Tumblr post that described, in detail, her frustration over Scooter Braun acquiring her musical catalog in a $300 million sale.
The “You Need to Calm Down” singer accused Braun of being a bully, and said it was her “worst case scenario” that he was the one who now owned her masters, drawing praise from some and criticism from others.
Here’s everything you need to know about the situation.
It Started with a Purchase
Before she left for Universal Music Group late last year, Taylor Swift was Big Machine Label Group’s marquee name, having signed with Scott Borchetta’s record label when she was just 15 years old.
On Sunday, reports broke that BMLG had been acquired by Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings for $300 million, essentially giving Braun ownership of all of Swift’s master recordings, from her eponymous debut album to 2017’s reputation.
A sale by Borchetta had long been looming, as Swift explained in her note that she left the label because, after trying to own her own music for years, she was told she could only do so if she signed a new contract that gave her ownership of one of her old albums for every new one she completed.
“I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future,” she wrote. “I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”
What’s Swift’s Problem with Braun?
Swift was particularly upset that it was Braun who purchased her musical catalog from Borchetta, as she accused the manager of “incessant, manipulative bullying” over the years.
The singer, 29, provided one specific feud as an example: her beef with Kanye West over his lyrics in the song “Famous,” and a subsequent phone call between her and West that was later released by Kim Kardashian without her permission.
The phone call was Kardashian’s way of arguing that West did, in fact, run the lyrics “I made that bitch famous” by Swift, who had previously denied that such a conversation had ever taken place. The two entertainers were not actually heard discussing the lyrics on the phone call, which Kardashian released on Snapchat, though Swift received backlash and was called a liar for objecting to the line.
“Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it,” Swift wrote on Tumblr. “Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked.”
Swift was referring to a 2016 Instagram post that showed Justin Bieber on a Facetime call with Braun and West, with the caption, “Taylor swift what up.” (Bieber deleted the caption after Swift posted it on Tumblr.)
She included a screenshot of the Instagram with her Tumblr note, and circled Braun’s face in red, writing, “This is Scooter Braun, bullying me on social media when I was at my lowest point. He’s about to own all the music I’ve ever made.”
The “revenge porn,” meanwhile, refers to West’s “Famous” music video, which featured a nude mannequin that resembled Swift.
Is Taylor Swift Mad at Scott Borchetta, Too?
While much of Swift’s anger was directed at Braun, she did express disappointment in Borchetta for agreeing to sell to Braun.
Swift argued that Borchetta was well aware of her issues with the executive, and considered Braun owning her catalog a “worst case scenario.”
“This is what happens when you sign a deal at 15 to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept,” she wrote, referring to Borchetta. “When I left my masters in Scott’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.”
She continued, “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.”
What Does Scooter Braun Have to Say?
Braun has yet to speak publicly about Swift’s claims, though Borchetta shared his side of the story and disputed Swift’s recollection of events.
“As to her comments about ‘being in tears or close to it’ anytime my new partner Scooter Braun’s name was brought up, I certainly never experienced that,” Borchetta said in a statement on the label’s website.
“Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber? Yes. But there were also times where Taylor knew that I was close to Scooter and that Scooter was a very good source of information for upcoming album releases, tours, etc, and I’d reach out to him for information on our behalf.”
Borchetta also cited two instances in which Braun reached out to work with Swift — once to see if she wanted to perform at the Manchester One Love concert organized by his client Ariana Grande, and again to participate in the Parkland March, both of which Swift declined.
Though she wasn’t physically at the event, Swift showed her support for the March for Our Lives campaign last March by donating money and speaking out on Instagram about gun violence ahead of the organized march in Washington, D.C.
“Scooter has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music,” Borchetta wrote.
Braun’s wife, Yael Cohen Braun, also publicly addressed the situation, calling out the singer for doing the very thing she accused Braun of doing.
“I have never been one for a public airing of laundry, but when you attack my husband… here we go,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Girl, who are you to talk about bullying? The world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers. My husband is anything but a bully, he’s spent his life standing up for people and causes he believes in,” Yael wrote. “Beyond that, it’s easy to see that the point of putting this out was to get to bully him. You are supposed to be a role model, but continue to model bullying.”
Where Do Celebrities Stand?
Braun immediately found support in two of his most famous clients: Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, the latter of whom called him “a good man” on Instagram.
As he was mentioned directly in Swift’s post as being one of the people who helped Braun bully her, Bieber initially issued an apology on Instagram, claiming he thought his 2016 Instagram post was funny, but now realized it was “distasteful and insensitive.”
Bieber went on, however, to defend Braun and question Swift’s goals in publishing her note.
“What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? Seems to me like it was to get sympathy,” he wrote. “[You] 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.”
Bieber’s post found support in wife Hailey Baldwin, but was criticized by Swift’s friend Cara Delevingne, who encouraged Bieber to stop “sticking up for men” and spend “more time trying to understand women and respecting their valid reactions.”
Other stars like Halsey, Iggy Azalea, Todrick Hall and Martha Hunt have also expressed support for Swift on social media.
Why Did Taylor Share the Note?
Swift explained in her message that her goal in going public with her situation was to shine a light on the issue in order for up-and-coming stars to not make the same mistakes she did in signing away her ownership rights as a teenager.
“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.”
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