Last summer, Taylor Swift announced that her former label, Big Machine, has sold her masters to Scooter Braun. This means that Taylor no longer owns her first six albums, and that Scooter has full control over her work. She also revealed that she never had the opportunity to purchase her masters from her label, and that she intended to re-record her first six albums when she was available to do so. According to the original release from last year, Taylor can officially start re-recording her first albums this month.
This week, some more details developed. Taylor revealed in a tweet that her team attempted to negotiate with Scooter Braun to get her masters back. In her open letter, she revealed that Scooter’s team tried to get her to sign an ironclad NDA, forcing her to never speak publicly about Scooter, unless it was positive. Taylor and her team compared the NDA to one that would “silence an assault accuser,” and that Scooter’s team never gave her a price, meaning she couldn’t buy her masters back.
However, this wasn’t the only bombshell Taylor dropped. While she was unable to purchase her masters back from Scooter Braun, they were still up for sale. Taylor revealed that her team received a letter from private equity firm, Shamrock Holdings. The letter revealed that the firm had bought Taylor’s masters from Scooter. “This is the second time my music has been sold without my knowledge,” Taylor says.
Shamrock Holdings did ask Taylor if they were interested in partnering with her. However, Taylor declined due to their deal with Scooter. Taylor finished up her letter by letting her fans know that she has stated to re-record her first six albums.
Taylor has had a long issue with her master’s and her music. While she was with Big Machine Records, she pleaded to its owner, Scott Borchetta, to be able to buy her masters. However, Scott refused every single time. Once her contract with Big Machine almost came to an end, Scott offered her a deal for her masters. For every album she wanted to own, she would have to make another album to “earn it back.” This means she would have to record six new albums to own her first six albums, thus trapping her with the label. This made Taylor decide to leave Big Machine, and leaving her masters with Scott.
Taylor has also had a rough relationship with Scooter Braun. When it was first announced that Scooter bought her masters, Taylor accused Scooter of being a manipulative person who hated her and tried to sabotage her career. Taylor also has had rough relationships with several of Scooter’s clients, like Justin Bieber and Kanye West.
Why Does This Matter?
As mentioned earlier, Taylor not owning her masters means that she no longer owns her first six albums. She no longer owns the songs that she wrote, and someone who had no role in the creation of her music does. Taylor cannot make money off of songs from her first six albums being purchased, used in media, or streamed.
This has happened several times in the music industry. Michael Jackson had previously bought The Beatles’ catalog, giving him full control over them. Prince also went through a long battle with his music, which caused him to be very picky over the use of his songs, and caused him to refer to himself as “The Artist Formally Known As Prince.”
If artists as big as Taylor Swift, The Beatles, and Prince can’t own their music, several lesser-known artists probably can’t as well. Everyone deserves to own their work, since they are the ones who created it.