On Sunday evening, Taylor Swift recreated her own personal version of the Regina George bedroom freakout scene from Mean Girls when she whipped open her Burn Book (aka Tumblr), and dragged Scooter Braun after it was revealed that he now owns the masters of almost all of her songs. It didn’t take long for everyone to get involved, but now everyone who counts is involved.
Billboard reports that Taylor’s attorney Don Passman recently responded to a statement made by Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Records and the man who sold the company to Scooter Braun earlier this week for $300 million. Taylor claimed that she pleaded for years for the chance to own her work, and that the only agreement Scott offered was one in which she’d earn an album for every new album she made. Taylor says she didn’t go for that, because she knew Scott would sell the company, and subsequently sell Taylor’s future.
Scott shot back with a long explanation of his own. He posted a picture of a business proposal from August 15, 2018 between Big Machine and Taylor regarding the ownership of her masters. He claims that it shows 100% of Taylor’s assets would be transferred to her upon resigning with Big Machine for ten years (she instead signed with Universal’s Republic Records). He also claimed that Taylor couldn’t have been blindsided by the news, because her father Scott Swift is on the Big Machine board of directors, and was notified about the sale on a June 25th phone call.
He also claimed that he personally texted Taylor about the sale on Saturday, June 29th. Scott Borchetta says Big Machine is a small record label, and that his offer to Taylor was as good as he could provide to her. He also says that they parted on good terms, and that, “Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave.”
Don Passman released a statement essentially accusing Scott Borchetta of doing some shady business.
“Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others.”
The “others” being referenced is most likely Scooter Braun. Taylor’s lawyer has been busy writing statements, but he might not be pulling overtime hours to get a lawsuit together. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to a music specialist named Howard King (who has represented Kanye West and Pharrell Williams). Howard says that Taylor has no legal legs to stand on in this fight, and that she’d almost certainly lose if she sued Scooter over the rights to her masters.
“She has no legal recourse. The masters are the record company’s property. There’s nothing in a contract that says they can’t sell it to another company. In fact, it happens all the time. There’s no key man clause in these recording agreements.”
Not surprisingly, all of this music masters drama has prompted people to start downloading and buying Taylor’s old music.
Taylor probably didn’t anticipate that Scott would provide the actual contract document that shows he offered her ownership of her masters (even if she had to sign a 10 year long contract). Did Taylor learn nothing from her social media rumble with Kim Kardashian? People keep receipts, Taylor!