Taylor Swift has said that for the second time in two years, Scooter Braun, the influential music manager, had been involved in taking the master rights to her first six albums without her knowledge or consent, this time selling them to a private equity firm for hundreds of millions of dollars.
She’s been trying to buy the rights for herself since 2019, after Braun’s holding company purchased her former home record label.
Swift said in a statement on Twitter that Braun, who also manages acts like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, asked her to sign an “ironclad” non-disclosure agreement (NDA) mandating she never disparage him in public before the two entered negotiations, and that he wouldn’t quote her a price on the rights.
“So, I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work,” she wrote. “My legal team said this is absolutely NOT normal, and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them off.”
Representatives for Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), the Nashville-based independent label which sold the rights, and Shamrock Holdings, which reportedly bought them, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Braun’s media holding company bought BMLG, where the pop superstar recorded her first six albums, in 2019 for over $300 million, securing the master rights to Swift’s early work along with it. In 2018, she signed a contract for new recordings with Universal Music Group.
According to Swift, Braun then sold the rights, along with “100% of my music, videos, and album art,” to Shamrock in recent weeks, for a reported price of more than $300 million, and mandated the investment group not notify the singer of the sale until after it was complete.
As part of the statement, Swift also included a letter she sent to Shamrock, saying she didn’t want to partner with them on anything in the future because it meant enriching Braun, who will allegedly continue to profit off the catalogue for “many years” under the terms of the deal.
“I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefitting Scooter Braun’s interests directly or indirectly,” she writes. “It’s a shame to know that I will now be unable to help grow the future of these past works and it pains me very deeply to remain separated from the music I spent over a decade creating, but this is a sacrifice I will have to make to keep Scooter Braun out of my life.”
Braun hasn’t said much about the controversy publicly, but did tell Variety in 2019 he thought social media wasn’t the place to hash out disagreements like this.
“I just think we live in a time of toxic division, and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations,” he said. “And I don’t like politicians doing it. I don’t like anybody doing it, and if that means that I’ve got to be the bad guy longer, I’ll be the bad guy longer, but I’m not going to participate.”
He also said in an open letter on Instagram the row between the two had caused him and his family to face death threats, and that he tried to work with Swift on making a suitable deal.
Last year, Swift said she would begin re-recording her old material as a way to regain ownership, and in the statement she said the work continues.
“I can’t wait for you to hear what I’ve been dreaming up,” she writes.