Taylor Swift claims upcoming gigs 'are a question mark' in escalating record label feud

Taylor Swift claims upcoming gigs 'are a question mark' in escalating record label feud

American pop singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has told fans that her upcoming performance at a music awards ceremony is in doubt, suggesting that two record executives said she could not perform her back catalog of songs on television.

The 29-year-old appealed to her millions of social media followers to express their support for her in an ongoing row over the ownership of her songs, and accused the executives of exercising “tyrannical control” over her music.

The executives in question — at her former label Big Machine Records — are disputing the pop singer’s claims.

Swift’s comments issued late Thursday followed news that she was to receive the “Artist of the Decade” prize at the American Music Awards ceremony later this year. Swift wrote that she had planned to perform a medley of her hits on the show.

“They claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” Swift said in her Twitter post.

According to Swift, the executives — whom she identified as Big Machine head Scott Borchetta and owner Scooter Braun — had refused the use of older music or performance footage for both the AMAs as well as a documentary being made by Netflix about her life.

“The message being sent to me is very clear,” Swift said. “Basically be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

The singer-songwriter noted that “right now my performance at the AMAs, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November 2020 are a question mark.”

On Friday, Big Machine Records issued a statement denying Swift’s claims.

“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 company said.

Music executives Scooter Braun, left, and Scott Borchetta appear together in Nashville in 2018. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Big Machine’s statement went further in accusing Swift of owing “millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company” and criticized her social media posts as “[enlisting] her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.”

Braun, who represents Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande among others, this year acquired Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville-based record company founded by Borchetta that owns the master recordings of Swift’s past songs.

Tree Paine, Swift’s publicist, responded to Big Machine’s statement on Friday morning saying that the label had not agreed to issue licences of her recordings for the Netflix documentary and that Borchetta denied the request for the AMAs.

“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 US dollars of unpaid royalties over several years,” Paine wrote.

Swift signed with Big Machine at age 15 and left last November for Universal Music Group, a unit of French conglomerate Vivendi. She released her first album with UMG in August.

Swift, whose latest album Lover has broken records in China, headlined the opening gala for the Nov. 11 Singles’ Day online shopping festival of retail juggernaut Alibaba, which pulled in a record $ 38.4 billion US. 

Swift’s callout ignited on social media, with the hashtags “IStandWithTaylor” and “FreeTaylor” trending worldwide on Twitter.

She also urged fellow artists, including those managed by Braun like Grande and Bieber, to speak out and speak to him. She also asked for help from the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm that financed the Big Machine sale.

CBC | Arts News

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