Scott Borchetta + Scooter Braun’s Wife Respond to Taylor Swift’s Disapproval of Big Machine Label Group Sale
Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta; Yael Cohen Braun, the wife of BMLG buyer and talent manager Scooter Braun; and pop star Justin Bieber, one of Braun's clients, are among those weighing in on the sale of the Nashville-based record label. Specifically, they've each responded to Taylor Swift's frustrations about the sale and the fact that Braun now owns the masters to her first six albums.
On Sunday morning (June 30), numerous news sources revealed that Borchetta had sold BMLG and Big Machine Music, its music publishing arm, to Braun's Ithaca Holdings, which encompasses his talent management company SB Projects, Schoolboy Records, Sheba Publishing and Atlas Music Publishing, among other endeavors. Ithaca Holdings is reportedly paying upwards of $300 million for BMLG and Big Machine Music; Borchetta -- who founded BMLG in 2005 and has been discussing selling the label for a few years now -- will remain in place as BMLG's president and CEO, will join the board of Ithaca Holdings and will acquire a minority interest in that company.
A few hours after the news was announced, however, Swift -- who signed with Universal Music Group's Republic Records in November but who was one of BMLG's first signed artists -- issued a statement of her own, decrying her former label home's sale to Braun. The talent manager, Swift claims, bullied her via his clients, specifically Bieber and rapper Kanye West, with whom Swift has a long-standing feud.
Additionally, Swift says in her Tumblr post, she had been asking for the opportunity to purchase the masters to the six albums she released with Big Machine "for years," but was never given the chance. Instead, she writes, "I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and 'earn' one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in." She also claims that she only found out about the label's sale when it was announced to the general public.
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In a blog of his own, Borchetta disputes Swift's account of these events, citing text messages between the two and a look at the deal BMLG offered Swift to re-sign with the label. Per that document, Swift would have been given ownership of all assets related to her career, both from the past and future, if she signed to the label for 10 years. "We were working together on a new type of deal for our new streaming world that was not necessarily tied to ‘albums’ but more of a length of time," Borchetta explains in his post.
"We are an independent record company. We do not have tens of thousands of artists and recordings," Borchetta writes. "My offer to Taylor, for the size of our company, was extraordinary. But it was also all I could offer as I am responsible for dozens of artists’ careers and over 120 executives and their families."
Borchetta cites what he says is a message from Swift to him on the morning of Nov. 19, the day her new record deal was announced. In the note, Swift explains, "Owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture. I had a choice whether to bet on my past or to bet on the future and I think knowing me, you can guess which one I chose. I also saw a rare opportunity to effect positive change for a lot of other artists with the leverage I have right now." Borchetta says the two "remained on very good terms" as she looked at other potential label deals and "saluted each other and cheered each other on" when she revealed her Republic Records deal.
In response to Swift's claim that she was not given a heads up about the label's sale ahead of time, Borchetta shares the text of a message he says he sent her on Saturday night (June 29), about 12 hours before the news of BMLG's sale was announced. "I want you to know that I will continue to be the proud custodian of your previous works and will continue to keep you and your team abreast of all future plans for releases of you work," he wrote.
"I guess it's possible that she might not have seen my text," Borchetta admits. A spokesperson for Swift tells People that the singer saw news stories about the sale "when she woke up," before she saw Borchetta's text, "and he did not call her in advance."
However, Borchetta points out, Swift's father, Scott Swift, is a shareholder in Big Machine Records, LLC, the parent company of Big Machine Label Group and Big Machine Music, as is Frank Bell, an executive at Swift's 13 Management. Shareholders, Borchetta says, were "made aware of the pending deal with Ithaca Holdings" on June 25, on an official shareholders' call, and voted on the deal on a call the following day (June 26). Scott Swift was represented on the calls by Jay Schaudies, the lawyer for 13 Management.
"I guess it might somehow be possible that [all three men] didn't say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days," Borchetta admits. Taylor Swift's spokesperson also tells People that Scott Swift "did not participate in [the shareholder calls] 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."
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As for Swift's claims of bullying from Braun, Borchetta writes that he "certainly never experienced" Swift becoming emotional when Braun's name was brought up. While Borchetta was aware of the "prior issues" between Swift and Justin Bieber, "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."
"Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor," Borchetta adds. "Scooter has always been and will continue to be a supporter and honest custodian for Taylor and her music."
For his part, Bieber -- whom Swift says bullied her after Kanye West's wife, Kim Kardashian, released a snippet of a phone call between Swift and West, re-igniting their feud and causing Swift to retreat from the public eye for months -- apologized for his involvement in the fight via an Instagram post. However, he added that Braun had actually cautioned him against making such comments on social media, so Bieber feels as though Swift's comments against Braun are "crossing a line."
"Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you!" Bieber writes. "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."
Braun's wife, Yael Coehn Braun, also responded to Swift's comments via an Instagram post of her own. She, too, disputes Swift's claims that she did not know about BMLG's sale ahead of time, and that Scooter Braun is a bully.
"He's a manger, not God. He cannot control the actions of other humans, even ones he manages," Yael Braun writes. "What you haven't seen is what happens behind closed doors, when he has supported and stood up for you ...
"Scott (Scooter) was so excited to work and build with you ... He believes in and supports you," Braun adds. "Tumblr can't fix this, a phone call can," she concludes, noting directly to Swift in her post's caption that she's "here to talk privately anytime."
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