Taylor Swift Says Scooter Braun Won’t Let Her Play Her Old Songs at the American Music Awards

Braun’s Big Machine label denies blocking artist’s AMA performance or Netflix special

Taylor Swift
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV

Taylor Swift took to social media on Thursday to once again call out her old label Big Machine and its new owner, Scooter Braun, saying that they’re preventing her from playing her own songs at the American Music Awards next week.

In a lengthy text post shared to Swift’s social media accounts, the pop star said Braun and Big Machine boss Scott Borchetta informed her that performing any of the songs from her first six albums would be taken as a violation of the label’s rights as the owner of Swift’s master recordings.

Borchetta and Braun “have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” Swift wrote.

Swift surrendered ownership of her masters when she left Big Machine for a new deal at Republic Records ahead of her most-recent album. Braun took ownership of the recordings earlier this year upon the sale of Big Machine to Braun’s company, Ithaca Holdings. Under the current arrangement, Swift is forbidden to re-record any of her old hits until Nov. 2020.

The pop star has publicly spoken out against the arrangement previously, writing in a July Tumblr post that she felt “sad and grossed out” about the sale of her recordings to Braun.

In addition to the AMAs later this month — where Swift is set to be awarded as the “Artist of the Decade” and was planning to perform a medley of her past hits — Swift said Braun and Borchetta are holding up another project as well.

“Additionally — and this isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years,” she wrote on Thursday. “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”

She continued, “Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.”

Swift first announced in an August interview with “CBS This Morning” that she plans to re-record her back catalogue of hits, ranging from her debut through her 2017 album “Reputation.” Her most recent album, “Lover,” was released last August via Republic and is not affected by the deal.

She called on her fans to make their opinions on her current situation heard, adding that she hopes some of Braun’s clients will also back her in this dispute.

“I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate,” Swift wrote. “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

On Friday, Big Machine responded with a public statement, saying her post was “based on false information” and that it “at no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special.”

“Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate,” the statement read. “The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career. We have worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward. We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. However, despite our persistent efforts to find a private and mutually satisfactory solution, Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.”

Big Machine then addressed the artist directly:

“Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation. When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side. To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumors fester in the absence of communication. Let’s not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”