When Taylor Swift took the stage at the American Music Awards last month, she only slightly dragged Scooter Braun. And she didn’t even say his name. Well, she fully dragged him and called him out by name at the Billboard’s Women in Music 2019 event yesterday. If the AMAs were a threat to speak to the manager, then the Billboard Women in Music 2019 is waiting outside the store at 6:54am for the doors to open at 7 after looking up the manager’s name the night before.
Taylor received the award for Woman of the Decade, and she gave a 15 minute long acceptance speech about her career. Taylor said that after winning Album of the Year at the Grammys for Fearless in 2010, she was subject to a whole new level of criticism and hate. She added that it became her goal to prove everyone wrong and succeed at the things people slammed her for. Like accusations that she was a pitchy singer, or questioning whether she actually writes her own music.
“So then I decided that I would be the only songwriter on my third album, Speak Now, and that I would tour constantly, work on my vocals every day, and perfect my stamina in a live show. I decided I would be what they said I couldn’t be. I didn’t know then that soon enough people would decide on something else I wasn’t quite doing right, and then the circle would keep going on and on and rolling along and I would keep accommodating, over-correcting, in an effort to appease my critics.
They’re saying I’m dating too much in my 20s? Okay, I’ll stop, I’ll just be single. For years. Now they’re saying my album Red is filled with too many breakup songs? Okay, okay, I’ll make one about moving to New York and deciding that really my life is more fun with just my friends. Oh, they’re saying my music is changing too much for me to stay in country music? All right. Okay, here’s an entire genre shift and a pop album called 1989.
Now it’s that I’m showing you too many pictures of me with my friends, okay, I can stop doing that too. Now I’m actually a calculated manipulator rather than a smart businesswoman? Okay, I’ll disappear from public view for years. Now I’m being cast a villain to you? Okay, here’s an album called Reputation and there are lots of snakes everywhere.”
Taylor also gave a shout-out to Lana Del Rey, who she believes is one of the most influential artists in pop music. She also acknowledged other female artists, no matter what kind of success they might have found, are “still struggling to be in the room.” She believes women in music are held to a much higher, and sometimes “impossible-feeling” standard, and that they’re not allowed to “coast.” You can read her full speech here.
But let’s get to the part we’re all gathered here today to talk about. Nearly ten minutes into Taylor’s acceptance speech, she addressed the biggest potential threat to artists today: PEOPLE BUYING MUSIC. But not in the way Taylor would like. She talked about Scooter Braun, who owns six albums worth of her masters after purchasing Big Machine for $300,000,000 earlier this summer.
“Lately there’s been a new shift that has affected me personally…The unregulated world of private equity coming in and buying up our music as if it is real estate. As if it’s an app or a shoe line. This just happened to me without my approval, consultation, or consent.
After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in a deal that I’m told was funded by the Soros Family, 23 Capital, and the Carlyle Group. Yet to this day none of these investors have ever bothered to contact me or my team directly.”
“The definition of the toxic male privilege in our industry is people saying, ‘But he’s always been nice to me,’ when I’m raising valid concerns about artists and their rights to own their music. And of course he’s nice to you. If you’re in this room, you have something he needs.”
She added that she’ll never forget the women who supported her during this difficult time. Scooter Braun has previously tried to argue that he hasn’t prevented Taylor from performing any of her songs, that he’s tried to call her to talk it out, that he’s not a liar or a bully, and that he’d really like to sit down and talk it out because he’s sick of getting death threats over it.
Taylor’s main issue seems to be that she doesn’t like that someone bought her music without asking her first, which I get. But also, if you didn’t own it in the first place, can you really get that mad if the new owner doesn’t ask you first before they buy it? I think I might be too poor to relate here. Because the closest analogy I can come up with is the time I learned that the people who were going to buy my childhood home had plans to rip out our 3-foot aboveground pool in the backyard. I was livid, but looking back – I can see why they didn’t want to open the living room curtains and stare out at a glorified bathtub for raccoons.
Here’s more of Taylor, who also posed with Cyndi Lauper, at the Billboard Women in Music 2019 awards yesterday.