Taylor Swift has divided the music industry again. No, not with the debate of if her current single is terrible or simply horrible. This time there is some heft behind her fight. And the battle lines are not as clean as one would think they should be.
Back in November, Swift left her longtime label, Big Machine Records, in favor of Universal Music Group. This was considered a big deal at the time because like it or not, Swift is the biggest pop star in the world. Little did she or the rest of us know, that business decision would lead to a bigger debate about the music industry as a whole.
Poor Little Swift Girl
Back in 2016, Taylor Swift had a reputation problem. Many people were seeing her as a perpetual victim. A role she seemed to relish in being cast in. For every breakup, there was another hit single for her to add to her growing library. Yet, she never seemed to accept responsibility for anything she did wrong.
Then came arch rival, Kanye West’s controversial new song “Famous.” In the song, the self-declared ‘genius,’ says that he made Swift famous. A fair assessment? Swift didn’t think so. She aired her grievances in public, which gained the ire of Kim Kardashian.
Kim Kardashian is not a personality known for discretion or for keeping things private. So, Kardashian released a snippet that purported to show Swift giving permission for West to use the lyric. This accomplished something no one had thought possible up to that point, Swift’s fans turned against her. She was labeled a snake.
As she always does, Swift turned the situation into music. An entire album, Reputation, was unleashed on the world. It was the last one she would make for Big Machine Records. It would also play into a new controversy that would swirl around Swift, and divide the music industry into two camps.
Who Owns Swift’s Music Now
On June 30, 2019, Swift posted on Tumblr announcing that Big Machine Records had been sold. In the teary post, she revealed Scooter Braun would be the new owner of her music. “Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
To prove her point, Swift posted a screengrab of Braun, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West on a FaceTime call. The original caption read, “Taylor Swift what up now.” It’s not hard to imagine what the three men were talking about. It is hard to imagine why they were so anti-Swift and why they made a show out of letting her know they were having a threeway….call.
Scooter Braun owning her music now gives Swift the chills. In her own words: “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. 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.”
This was the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be World War Music.
Who Is Scooter Braun
There is nary a Hollywood insider or gossip connoisseur that doesn’t know the name, Scooter Braun. His current roster of stars includes Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West. There are many more but the point is made, he is very good at his job.
He’s so good that with the help of an investment firm, he bought Big Machine Records for $300 million. The downside is, he ended up on the wrong side of Swift. And embroiled in a controversy with no clear winner.
One would think with the emotional problems Justin Bieber has admitted to dealing with lately, he would be kinder to Taylor Swift. Instead, after a half-hearted apology, he blasts Swift. In a social media post, Bieber wrote: “Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.! As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter.”
Swift did not directly address Bieber’s post but in a sly move she set fans off on another thread. She went on a liking spree, one of the comments she liked accused Bieber of cheating on ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez. Swift would be in a position to know as Gomez’s best friend.
Big Defense Statement
In regard to a post earlier today from Taylor, it’s time to set some things straight. https://t.co/OqGI4GoN3P
— Scott Borchetta (@scottborchetta) July 1, 2019
Scott Borchetta owned and ran Big Machine Records while Taylor Swift was signed to the label. And while both have said there was no bad blood between them, he hit back at her blog post pretty hard. He stopped short of calling her a liar but made sure to defend Scooter Braun with as much might as he could”Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor,” Which would later be called into question by Todrick Hall.
The Todrick Hall of It All
For those asking, I left Scooter Braun a long time ago…I am saddened by this news, but not shocked. He is an evil person who’s only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego. I believe he is homophobic & I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.
— Todrick Hall (@todrick) June 30, 2019
“I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.” Todrick Hall defended Taylor Swift and ended up in his own feud with Scooter Braun. Someone who is associated with Braun tried to create a controversy surrounding the openly gay singer, alleging that he stole material. The person also alleged that Scooter dumped Hall as a client.
Instead of playing the usual PR game, Hall brought the receipts for the social media world to see. While he was cordial, there is no doubt he is the one who broke up with Braun’s management.
Another person that has taken Swift’s side in this battle is singer-songwriter Halsey. She wrote a lovely post about how Taylor Swift inspired her and how she hopes things works out for the best.
— h (@halsey) June 30, 2019
Perpetual Victim Or Shrewd Business Woman
Despite the way this saga started, there could be more PR at play here. Maybe Braun and Swift hate each other. Maybe they don’t. But in the 24 hours since this story exploded the Swift back catalog has exploded and begun earning millions more in revenue.
It has also brought attention to Swift’s new single, “You Need to Calm Down,” And the new album to be released soon.
It also puts Taylor Swift in the headlines for something other than her personal life. And paints her as the heroine for the music industry and struggling singers. A role she likely relishes being in.