Days before Taylor Swift's highly anticipated performance at the 2019 American Music Awards, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun is breaking his silence on his rift with her.
Last week, Swift accused Braun, who bought the rights to her music, and her former label of stopping her from performing a medley of her greatest hits at the upcoming American Music Awards.
In a statement, Swift tweeted, “Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”
Swift called out Braun and Borchetta for “exercising tyrannical control” over her old music. She claimed that they also “have declined the used of my older music or performance footage” for an upcoming Netflix documentary.
Big Machine Records eventually approved her request to perform her old songs. In a statement, the label said, “The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists’ performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms. This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances. It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media. Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists' audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed.”
On Thursday, Braun posted an open letter to Swift on Instagram, due to death threats he claims that his family has received. He said, “Since your public statement last week there have been numerous death threats directed at my family. This morning I spoke out publicly for the first time saying I wouldn’t participate in a social media war. However I came home tonight to find my wife had received a phone call threatening the safety of our children as well as other threats seen above. I won’t go in to the details of this past week. I have been at a loss. Thinking of my wife and children, my team and their families, I have gone through a range of emotions on how to deal with this. I write this now only after a deep breathe and much reflection. I am certain there is no situation ever worth jeopardizing anyone’s safety.”
“I assume this was not your intention but it is important that you understand that your words carry a tremendous amount of weight and that your message can be interpreted by some in different ways,” Braun Scooter emphasized. “While disappointed that you have remained silent after being notified by your attorney 4 days ago of these ongoing threats, I’m still hopeful we can fix this.”
Braun noted that he had been trying to reach Taylor for months but has been unsuccessful. He elaborated, “To be frank I was shocked and disheartened to hear that my presence in the Big Machine deal caused you so much pain as the handful of times we have actually met I have always remembered them to be pleasant and respectful. Knowing what I know now all I have wanted to do is rectify the situation. I’m open to ALL possibilities. My attempts and calls to have an open discussion with you over the last 6 months have all been rejected. While some on your team and many of our mutual friends have tried to get you to the table, all have had no luck. It almost feels as if you have no interest in ever resolving the conflict. At this point with safety becoming a concern I have no choice other than to publicly ask for us to come together and try to find a resolution. I have tried repeatedly through your representatives to achieve a solution but unfortunately here we are. This game of telephone isn’t working.”
“Moving forward I would like to find a resolution. I will make myself available whenever works for you. Many have told me that a meeting will never happen as this is not about truth or resolution but instead a narrative for you. I am hopeful that is not the case,” Scooter went on. “I’m right here, ready to speak directly and respectfully. But if you would prefer to make large public statements while refusing to work towards resolving things amicably then I just pray that nobody gets seriously hurt in the process. I continue to wish you the best and hope we can resolve this.”
He addressed her upcoming performance, saying, “As the world now knows you can and should perform any song you would like at the AMAs. I have never and would never say otherwise. You do not need anyone’s permission to do so legally but I am stating it here clearly and publicly so there is no more debate or confusion.”
Hours before releasing his open letter, Braun commented on the drama at Hollywood Chamber’s 2019 State of Entertainment Industry Conference presented by Variety. While he didn’t address Swift by name, he said, “I haven’t talked about this in six months. Not once. I haven’t made a statement about it. When there’s a lot of things being said and a lot of different opinions, yet the principals haven’t had a chance to speak to each other, there’s a lot of confusion. I’m not going to go into details here, because it’s just not my style. I just think we live in a time of toxic division, and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations. And I don’t like politicians doing it. I don’t like anybody doing it, and if that means that I’ve got to be the bad guy longer, I’ll be the bad guy longer, but I’m not going to participate.”
He stressed the importance of communication, saying, “What I’ll say is, people need to communicate, and when people are able to communicate, I think they work things out. And I think a lot of times things are miscommunications, because I believe that people are fundamentally good. I think there are a lot of real problems in the world, and I think that these problems that are being discussed can be discussed behind closed doors and figured out pretty easily, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for six months. And it’s hard, because I can handle it pretty easily, but when it gets to a place where there’s death threats and there’s offices being called and people being threatened… it’s gotten out of hand. And I think people need to come together and have a conversation, because that’s not what we got in this industry for.”
In July, Taylor expressed her displeasure over Scooter owning the rights to her entire music catalogue through her last album, “Reputation.”
Scooter acquired Taylor’s old record label Big Machine Records for $300 million.
Swift wrote on Tumblr, “I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
Taylor ended her note by saying she was “sad and grossed out” by Braun’s acquisition.
Braun did not comment directly on Swift’s post, but sources told “Extra” that he was hurt and shocked that she put out these statements, saying it had affected his family. According to the insiders, he wanted to discuss the matter with Taylor privately over the phone.
Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta responded to Swift’s allegations in an open letter “to set some things straight.”
On the company website, Borchetta argued that he personally contacted Taylor to make her aware of the acquisition. He said, “I personally texted Taylor at 9:06pm, Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me… I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text. But, I truly doubt that she “woke up to the news when everyone else did."
Along with a screenshot of what he claims is a portion of the new contract, Borchetta also argued that Swift “had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave.”
Swift's lawyer Donald Passman refuted Borchetta's claims, saying, "Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others.”