New details cast doubt on Taylor Swift's music catalog narrative

EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Swift’s victim narrative – that she was duped out of owning her music catalog – is cast in doubt as uncovers evidence suggesting pop star’s dad knew about music exec Scooter Braun deal and passed up two chances to buy it

  • The imminent release of Taylor Swift’s  third re-record, ‘Speak Now,’ due tomorrow, July 7, has put her victim narrative back in the news
  • Taylor said she only learned her masters had been sold to Scooter Braun when the public did – but investigation reveals there’s more to the story
  • Industry sources claim her father Scott Swift, a stakeholder in her former record label, Big Machine Label Group, and management team were told in advance
  • Emails also show her team did enter negotiations to buy Taylor’s masters when Braun came to sell it, despite her publicly claiming she wasn’t given the chance

It was the moment the music industry deal of the decade turned into one of its most bitter feuds.

Hours after it was publicly announced in 2019 that Taylor Swift’s original label Big Machine Label Group (BMLG) had been bought by industry executive Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings for $300million, Swift took to Tumblr to say she was ‘sad and grossed out’ by the deal which meant her nemesis now owned the masters to her first six albums as well as the record label. 

‘Some fun facts about today’s news,’ she wrote at the time. ‘I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world.’

Her fans reacted with outrage and disgust, responding to Swift’s claims that her youth, in the form of the songs she had written as a teenager on her bedroom floor, had been somehow taken from her. 

New details in the years-long controversy involving Taylor Swift and her nemesis Scooter Braun (pictured right with Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta) cast doubt on the singer’s narrative about the battle over her masters 

Taylor and her father Scott Swift (pictured with her mother Andrea in 2013) have long claimed that neither were aware of the plans to sell record label Big Machine Records – along with her music catalog – to Braun in 2019 

The pop star claimed that ‘for years’ she had fought for ownership of her work but instead had it ‘stripped’ from her by Braun, who she accused of ‘manipulative bullying’ and trying to ‘dismantle’ her legacy. 

But what was once swallowed wholesale is now the subject of scrutiny and last month it emerged that Swift’s father, former Merrill Lynch stockbroker, Scott Swift, made a tidy sum on the sale of his daughter’s original label – $15.1million to be precise.

Now, a investigation can shed new light on both Braun’s purchase of BMLG and his subsequent resale of Taylor’s masters – and what we have uncovered casts doubt on the victim narrative put out by Taylor and her team.

We have spoken with industry insiders familiar with both deals, reviewed emails, and obtained signed documents that contradict Scott Swift’s claim that he had no knowledge of the Ithaca Holding’s purchase of BMLG and challenge Taylor’s claims that she was never given the chance to buy her masters when Braun came to sell them in October 2020.

Because, according to well-placed sources, Taylor was not only offered that chance, she was offered it more than once.

With his purchase of BMLG, Braun had taken control of the usage of Taylor’s first six albums and their revenue streams – though Swift still drew a handsome royalty, which she failed to point out.

Sixteen months later, Braun sold the masters on to private equity firm Shamrock Holdings – and Swift took to social media again.

Stirring the already simmering pot, she weaponized her fanbase of ‘Swifties’ with a lengthy post in which she claimed this was ‘the second time my music has been sold without my knowledge’, and berated the fact that she was given no chance to bid for it.

Hundreds of thousands of Swifties rose up with shouts of ‘Stolen! Stolen!’. 

Braun, his then wife Yael, and their children were lambasted online, showered with death threats, and, terrifyingly, physically harassed in the street.

The drama started back in June 2019 when the pop superstar shared a blogpost on Tumblr reacting to Big Machine Label Group – her former label – being sold to music executive Scooter Braun, who she accused of bullying her ‘for years’ 

Braun is best known for managing A-list singers including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West. Swift accused the music exec of bullying her in an Instagram photo shared by Bieber, captioned: ‘Taylor Swift what up’ 

The music executive acquired Taylor’s music catalog when he purchased Big Machine from CEO Scott Borchetta (right) for $330million

It has now been four years since Braun, best known for managing Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West, among others, purchased BMLG, and three since he sold it on, but the bitter fallout from the deal continues to this day.

Both Swift and her father Scott have always maintained they had no knowledge or foresight of the details of the Ithaca deal that was coming down the pipeline.

At the time she vowed to re-record, re-release, and reclaim all six of her first albums – and has so far managed to successfully do so with her 2008 album, Fearless, and  2012 album, Red – the titles and tracks of which are all labeled ‘Taylor’s Version’ to distinguish them from the originals. 

The imminent release of her third re-record, ‘Speak Now,’ due tomorrow, July 7, has put her victim narrative back in the news.

Put bluntly, according to one insider who spoke on condition of anonymity: ‘With all this coming back up again, the feeling is, enough is enough.

‘It’s time for the truth to come out rather than this version in which Taylor was somehow blindsided and wronged.

‘Her team absolutely knew what was on the table. As for the story that Scooter never offered Taylor a chance to buy her catalog when he came to sell it the following year that is just 100 percent not true.’

According to another source: ‘I think once Taylor crossed the line that day and tweeted that she learned everything at the same time as the rest of the world she was just going to hold onto that victim narrative because it worked for her. Her fans took it and ran with it.’

Wittingly or otherwise, she fanned the flames of her fans’ anger to the point where there were real-world consequences for Braun – who until that point was not a public person so much a respected industry executive – and his wife and young family.

In the #MeToo era Swifts’ allegations of ‘bullying’ and misogyny were particularly incendiary and soon Braun and his family were the targets of serious threats.

Swift and Borchetta (pictured together in 2013) parted ways in 2018 after the singer turned down a new contract from BMLG and made the decision to sign with Universal Music and Republic Records 

In his own statement addressing the controversy days later on June 30, 2019, Borchetta disputed Swift’s claim that she ‘woke up the new’ of Braun’s acquisition when everyone else did 

Borchetta recreated a text message he says Swift sent him informing him of her decision to sign with Universal Music Group in November 2018 before she went public with the news

He also shared a message he claims he sent the pop star on June 29, 2019 – the night before the Big Machine sale announcement – to inform her about the deal has seen communications between Braun’s team and Swift’s in which they try to address this matter, asking for Swift or someone on her behalf to step in and simply say, ‘this is not okay.’

The communications seen by not only show that Swift’s management refused to do any such thing and instead blamed Braun and his wife for making the situation worse by speaking out about the threats publicly.

One source explained: ‘Scooter always kind of took the high ground and didn’t engage but it’s incredibly frustrating to hear these things being said that just aren’t true. As for this notion that anything was ‘stolen’ from her – she never owned her masters when she was at BMLG. Scott Borchetta BMLG’s chief executive did.’

At the time of the company’s sale in June 2019, Swift’s contract with BMLG was coming to an end.

The pop star had just signed a new recording agreement with Republic Records and Universal Music which would finally allow her ownership of her masters moving forward after rejecting an earlier deal presented to her by Borchetta. 

Swift claimed in her original statement that she had ‘walked away’ from the label after the CEO offered her an opportunity to re-sign with Big Machine and ‘earn’ her six original studio albums back one at a time, ‘one for every new one I turned in.’  

In his own statement addressing the controversy days later, Borchetta disputed Swift’s claim that she ‘woke up’ to the news of Braun’s acquisition ‘when everyone else did’ saying he had texted her the day before the announcement to inform her that the deal had been done.

He also clarified that the two ‘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.’

Meanwhile, Scott Swift was a BMLG shareholder and as such company rules meant that he had to be appraised of any sale details at least two weeks before a shareholders’ vote.

Borchetta also included a excerpt of the alleged terms of a 2018 deal proposed by Swift and BLMG’s apparent response in agreement 

Emails seen by appear to show Scott Swift was indeed aware of the deal with one email sent on June 26 – two days before the shareholder vote and four days before the deal’s public announcement – showing the pop star’s dad connecting a BMLG executive to a New York litigator acting on his behalf 

Swift, 33, embarked on her Eras Tour 

Emails seen by appear to show Swift was indeed aware of the deal in the offing.

In one, sent on June 26 – two days before the shareholder vote and four days before the deal’s public announcement – Swift connects a BMLG executive to a New York litigator acting on his behalf to give the attorney access to the ‘data room’ in which all the deal details were held.

A source claims: ‘This not only shows he was aware of the deal, he was bringing more team members in on it.’

Similarly, Swift has maintained that he recused himself from the shareholders vote on June 28 by way of evidence that he was ignorant of any details.

He has stated that a strict NDA would have prohibited him from sharing any that he learned with his daughter.

A spokesperson for Taylor Swift did not comment on the email exchange but doubled-down on the reasons given for Scott’s absence from the shareholders’ call and vote.

In a statement to Swift’s representative said: ‘On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in 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. Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta, and he did not call her in advance.’

Another source close to the negotiations also pointed out that the shareholder meeting was held only 48 hours prior to the announcement of the sale to Scooter and since Scott Borchetta controlled 90% of the stock, the sale was a foregone conclusion. 

Swift addressed fans again in November 16, 2020 following the second sale of her masters 

Taylor said she had been carved out of any option to bid for the masters herself claiming Braun’s team insisted she sign an ‘ironclad NDA’ agreeing to ‘never say another word’ about him ‘unless it was positive’ has seen an NDA drawn up for Swift’s management and show there is no such clause discussing Braun’s reputation and that her team did sign it

But, according to confidential source, the ‘proxy’ who took her father’s place was Jay Schaudies, an attorney for Swift’s management company. 

The source said: ‘Look, her father knew the deal existed. Her management knew the terms of the deal. They knew the deal was happening. Is it conceivable that they didn’t tell Taylor? Perhaps. But I have a hard time believing she knew nothing. The point is if anyone kept anything from her it was her own people.’

Just over a year later, in November 2020, Swift told fans via a lengthy post on Twitter: ‘A few weeks ago we received a letter from a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings letting us know that they had bought 100% of my music, videos and album art from Scooter Braun.’

She went onto claim this had happened without her knowledge and that she had been carved out of any option to bid for the masters herself as Braun’s team insisted she sign an ‘ironclad NDA’ before seeing any financial information.

That NDA, she wrote, stated: ‘I would never say another world about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG.’

She claimed that her legal team had told her it was ‘NOT normal’ and sounded the incendiary MeToo bell once more by saying: ‘unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them.’ has seen an NDA drawn up to grant Swift’s management access to these key financials and not only is there is no such clause discussing Braun’s reputation or her discussion of it – the terms are concerned entirely with financial disclosures – Swift’s team did sign it and additional communication provided by the source indicate that they did enter negotiations to buy the masters.

According to one familiar with the talks: ‘The reason the deal didn’t happen was they couldn’t agree a number. They wanted Scooter to sell the masters back for less than he paid for them. They were saying like $130million when he had an offer of $300 plus on the table from Shamrock.’

Still, another source said, Braun offered another chance to Swift’s team for her to buy her masters even offering to find financing for the deal at $300million. ‘She wouldn’t have even had to write a check.’

Following the announcement of BMLG’s sale, Swift vowed to re-record, re-release, and reclaim all six of her first albums – which she has done so far with Fearless, Red – the titles and tracks of which are all labeled ‘Taylor’s Version’ to distinguish them from the originals has seen communications between members of Swift’s legal team and Braun in which the potential sale is discussed proving her management was aware of these offers.

Some reference the claim that singer and mutual friend Ed Sheeran told Swift directly that Braun wanted to sell her the masters.

Despite this a source close to Swift has insisted: ‘In 2020, the ability to evaluate any opportunity for Taylor to purchase her catalog was conditioned on signing a gag order NDA prohibiting her from ever speaking the truth about Scooter and the situation.’

They added: ‘Taylor has completely moved on from this saga, and has turned what started out as an extremely painful situation into one of the most fulfilling creative endeavors of her life.’

That last point may be the only one on which all sides appear to agree with sources from both camps praising the creative and financial value of Swift’s re-recorded works.

According to one insider: ‘I think knowing the truth of it all it’s getting to be a hard pill for Scooter to swallow to hear all this stuff being thrown about again, how he did her wrong, how he bullied her and manipulated her.

‘I think it’s reached a point where he really doesn’t want this, or Taylor Swift, to define his legacy.

‘Perhaps the real question isn’t what did Scooter offer? It’s what did her people even tell her? At the time she was worth about $400million (today she’s estimated at $740million). Everyone knew the re-records were going to do wonders for her career. 

‘Maybe they just didn’t want her spending $300million of her net worth on getting those masters back.’

Source: Read Full Article