Scooter Braun has finally spoken out on the Taylor Swift catalog acquisition fiasco, admitting that he “regrets” how things went down. While it’s interesting that he’s finally saying something about it four years down the line, many think it’s too little, too late to make much of a difference.
What went on between Scooter Braun and Taylor Swift?
Back in 2018, Braun purchased Big Machine Music Group, which just so happened to hold the rights to Swift’s first six albums. Swift had been trying to retain the rights herself and was none too pleased to have been blocked from the deal. As a result, she decided to re-record all of the albums as “Taylor’s Versions” and has encouraged fans to stream those instead of the ones owned by Braun.
Swift has also been extremely vocal about the unfair practices in the music industry, calling attention to how many artists simply don’t own the rights to the very music they wrote themselves. “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift posted on social media at the time. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”
Needless to say, Taylor Swift is not a big fan of Scooter Braun.
What’s Scooter Braun’s deal?
Braun is probably best known for “discovering” and representing Justin Bieber, pulling him from obscurity and turning him into a global superstar, which will have made him quite a hefty sum of money. His roster has grown to include Ariana Grande, J Balvin, Demi Lovato, and several other artists. Braun has launched several companies including Schoolboy Records and Ithaca Ventures and is the co-founder of several others.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Braun is worth an estimated $500 million, which may explain how he was able to shell out $300 million to acquire Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. Less than 18 months later, he sold them off for a pretty hefty profit, with many estimates valuing the sale at $450 million.
So, what has Braun said about the situation now?
Braun was interviewed by NPR’s Jay Williams. When the topic of purchasing Taylor Swift’s catalog was breached, Scooter Braun said that while he wishes things had gone differently, it wasn’t really his fault. Instead, he blames Big Machine’s previous owner, Scott Borschetta, for putting non-disclosure agreements in place.
He expected Swift to go into business with him after the sale was completed. Braun went on to say that he assumed after purchasing Big Machine that Swift and her team would immediately sign up to work with him, but that never happened. “The regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s be in business together,” he said, as per Variety.
Swift would have to refute that claim, I’m sure. Back in 2020, she said that she’d tried to negotiate with Braun, but she was bullied into signing a contract that would forbid her from speaking out on the shady practices happening behind closed doors. “My team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun. Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature). 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 in the November 2020 social media statement.
Braun sees the whole fiasco as an “important lesson.” While the lesson should perhaps be that trying to screw an artist out of their rights is something you definitely shouldn’t do, Braun took something entirely different from the situation. “When I did that deal, I was under a very strict NDA with the gentleman who owned it, and I couldn’t tell any artist. I wasn’t allowed to. I wasn’t legally allowed to. What I told him was, hey, if any of the artists want to come back and buy into this, you have to let me know. And he shared a letter with me that’s out there publicly that – you know, the artist you’re referring to said, ‘I don’t want to participate in my masters. I’ve decided to, you know, not make this deal,’ blah, blah, blah. So that was the idea I was under,” Braun said. “I was excited to work with every artist on the label. So when we finalized the deal, I started making phone calls to say, hey, I’m a part of this. And before I could even do that – I made four phone calls; I started to do those phone calls – all hell broke loose. So I think a lot of things got lost in translation. I think that when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation.”
Braun added that he’s “rooting for everyone to win.” As he said on NPR: “I choose to look at it as a learning lesson, a growing lesson, and I wish everyone involved well. And I’m rooting for everyone to win because I don’t believe in rooting for people to lose.”