The American Music Awards will be honouring Taylor Swift with the Artist of the Decade award next weekend, but she may not be allowed to play the songs that made her a star.
According to Swift, Scott Borchetta, her former label head at Big Machine Records, and his new partner Scooter Braun, are preventing her from playing a retrospective medley at the awards show. She says they’re also blocking her from using her recordings in a Netflix documentary she’s been working on.
Braun recently paid $300 million to purchase the Big Machine Label Group, home to Swift's first six albums. The label holds the rights to her entire catalog up through 2017's Reputation album. At the time, Swift claimed she found out about the deal the same time as the rest of the world and was "sad and grossed out," saying all she could think about when she heard the news was the "incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun's] hands for years."
In a new post on Twitter last night, Swift says the Big Machine team informed her she could only perform her old songs at the AMAs if she agrees to never re-record them in the future — which she plans to do when she's legally allowed to next year — and if she stops dissing them publicly. #IStandWithTaylor soon became a trending topic.
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
Following the tweet, Big Machine Records issued a statement denying they are blocking Swift from performing. (Interestingly, the statement doesn’t specifically mention Swift’s ability to perform her older material.) "At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere...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...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."
Swift’s camp was quick to hit back at the statement, issuing one of their own this morning: "Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post...Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.."
Statement regarding Big Machine pic.twitter.com/9ZhjE1ntHe
— Tree Paine (@treepaine) November 15, 2019
Fans and celebrities have taken to social media to comment on the controversy, with most defending Swift.
Scott and Scooter, you know what the right thing to do is 🙏🙏
Taylor and her fans deserve to celebrate the music!!
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) November 15, 2019
📲 IG | Selena Gomez showing her support for Taylor via Instagram story #IStandWithTaylor
“I have known Taylor for 13 years. She is the most dedicated, fearless, feisty, strongest woman I’ve ever known (...) Taylor fights. She will never stop fighting. I love you.” pic.twitter.com/MlRbyiUM9o
— Taylor Swift News (@TSwiftNZ) November 15, 2019
— Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) November 15, 2019
— LILY ALLEN 2.0 (@lilyallen) November 15, 2019
Taylor Swift is always championing other artists and artists’ rights. It’s so disheartening to see so many big name musicians stay quiet tonight. Especially those that are her friends! Just liking a tweet is not enough!!
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) November 15, 2019
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) November 15, 2019
I stand in solidarity with all artists who try to bring their work in its best form to the fans. There’s no doubt that that’s what Taylor is trying to do. I hope these folks do the right thing. 🎶❤️🙏🏻 https://t.co/1eJaVseS1w
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) November 15, 2019
Fuck that. We’re with you
— TINASHE (@Tinashe) November 14, 2019
honestly it is fucked that one of the most powerful and rich women in the music industry still has no control compared to a cabal of wealthy nerds whose wealth is founded on nothing
— Molly Lambert 🦔 (@mollylambert) November 15, 2019
The #IStandWithTaylor movement is a pivotal moment in music. If Taylor Swift, the woman who EARNED Artist of the Decade, is dealing with men (who didn't create her music) trying to silence her, imagine what other hardworking women in the industry are facing.
📣 "This is WRONG." https://t.co/YC4vm2aVX1
— Brian A. Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) November 15, 2019
why do people blame taylor for ... signing a contract at 14 as if she was supposed to know all the legal implications ...stop acting like 14 year olds are supposed 2 have a masters in business while also juggling puberty , self loathing , and highschool boys who shower w cologne
— catie turner (@hashtagcatie) November 15, 2019
This is so cleverly worded.
“At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special.”
— Lucy Moon 🌻 (@iamnotlucymoon) November 15, 2019