Scooter Braun Sells Master Rights to Taylor Swift’s First Six Albums
Scooter Braun, the music executive who acquired Big Machine Music Group in June of 2019, has sold the master rights to the six albums that country-turned-pop star Taylor Swift recorded during her deal with the record label.
Variety reports that while the buyer is an unknown "investment fund," the sale earned Braun a sky-high sum of more than $300 million. The earnings from the sale of Swift's masters alone may be more than Braun's Ithaca Holdings, LLC paid in total for the Nashville-based label, which was founded by Scott Borchetta in 2005. That acquisition closed for just over $300 million, and included the entirety of BMLG's client roster, distribution deals and artist master copies.
A tweet from Swift, posted in the hours after the sale was announced on Monday (Nov. 16) sheds more light on the matter, and lays to rest fans' speculation that she may be the buyer. The singer explains that she had been "actively trying" to buy back her masters, but Braun and his 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)."
"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. My legal team said that 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," Swift continues. "He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me."
Swift adds that she and her team recently received a letter from her masters' purchaser: a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, according to her, which is owned by the estate of Roy E. Disney, a longtime senior executive of the Walt Disney Company (Walt was Roy's uncle). Shamrock Holdings, Swift says, wanted to let Swift know they'd officially purchased "100 percent of my music, videos and album art," and hadn't reached out sooner because Braun "required that they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off."
Shamrock Holdings' executives were hoping to involve Swift in their plans for her art, per Swift's tweet; however, Swift says, the terms of their deal with Braun mean that he will still be profiting off Swift's work "for many years."
"I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock," Swift writes, "but Scooter's participation is a non-starter for me." She explains as much in a letter to the Shamrock Holdings team, which she also shared via Twitter:
Shamrock Holdings made a similar purchase in 2018, when Norwegian songwriting and production duo Stargate sold the writers' shares and co-publishing stakes of two of their catalogs to the company, according to Billboard. At the time, partner Patrick Russo explained that the deal "complements our existing music publishing and recorded music rights and advances our long-term strategy of building and holding a portfolio of evergreen properties."
Swift departed BMLG in November of 2018, opting to sign a new deal with Republic Records. After Borchetta sold the label to Braun the following year, Swift publicly denounced the decision, telling fans that she had suffered "incessant, manipulative bullying" at Braun's hands for years.
Swift asked fans to put pressure on Braun, Borchetta and the Carlyle Group -- which helped finance the label sale -- after she said that BMLG had blocked her from performing a medley of her past hits during the then-upcoming 2019 American Music Awards, where she received the Artist of the Decade Award. BMLG subsequently denied Swift's claim, and specifically granted permission for her AMAs performance.
But the feud continued, with Braun speaking out to say that he did not want to participate in a public back-and-forth, and that Swift's scathing social media claims resulted in death threats to him and his family.
As of November, Swift is free to re-record songs from the first five albums that she released while signed to BMLG. In August of 2019, she asserted that she intended to do so as soon as possible, and her Tuesday tweet shares that she "recently" began to do just that.
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