Scooter Braun Breaks Silence About Taylor Swift vs. Big Machine Label Group Drama
There's been plenty of public back-and-forth between Taylor Swift and Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta since Borchetta sold Swift's former record label home to celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun over the summer. Braun, however, remained silent about the situation until Thursday (Nov. 21), when he answered some questions about the matter, in somewhat vague terms, during a Q&A session at the 2019 Entertainment Industry Conference in California.
"I haven’t talked about this in six months. Not once. I haven’t made a statement about it," Braun began in response to a question about the drama between himself and Swift, who accused Braun of bullying her via some of his clients (Justin Bieber, Kanye West) and Borchetta of not giving her the opportunity to purchase either BMLG or the master recordings of her first six albums, released via the label. Vulture, which co-sponsors the event, reports that Braun did not mention Swift by name, nor did he offer specifics about the situation.
“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," Braun said. "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.”
The Swift vs. Big Machine saga reappeared in headlines a week before Braun's Q&A (Nov. 14), when Swift claimed in a social media post that Borchetta and Braun were refusing to let Swift perform the songs she released while with BMLG during the 2019 American Music Awards, at which she will receive the Artist of the Decade honor. In a statement of their own, made on Friday (Nov. 15), Big Machine denied Swift's accusations and claimed that she owes the record label money.
As of Monday (Nov. 18), Swift has been cleared to play her Big Machine-era songs at Sunday's (Nov. 24) AMAs. However, in reply to the record label's statement, a representative for Swift shared with Billboard an Oct. 28 message from BMLG's vice president of rights management and business affairs supporting Swift's version of the dispute, and adding that it's actually Big Machine that owes Swift money.
“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," Braun added during the Q&A. "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."
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Swift's dedicated fanbase quickly stepped into action following her remarks, causing headaches for both Braun and Borchetta: PopCrush reports that social media users shared what are reportedly Borchetta and Braun's home, office and cell phone numbers, and some were sending death threats to both the men and Big Machine's Nashville office. "I can handle it pretty easily," Braun continued, "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."
Braun compared the public statements being made by Swift and Big Machine, and the fallout from them, to the U.S.' current, contentious political climate, and shared that he feels that in-public arguing doesn't solve anything. He also noted that what's gone on between himself and Swift has allowed him to "find out who [his] real friends are real quick."
"It doesn’t bother me, but it lets me know where I stand," Braun said. "The truth is, I have no ill will for anybody. And the moment people want to have a conversation with me, I’m ready to have that conversation, and I’m not going to add to the narrative. I disagree with it, but I’m not going to add to the narrative. I just want to fix things and set a better example for people."
Early Friday morning (Nov. 22), Braun followed up on his comments at the Q&A via an Instagram post, expressing his chagrin over the death threats he, his wife and his children have received in the wake of Swift's Nov. 14 social media post. "I have gone through a range of emotions on how to deal with this," he admits.
"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 writes to Swift. "This is a world filled with toxic division, where people express their opinions over social media instead of having conversations in person. I want no part in that."
Braun goes on to admit that he was "shocked and disheartened" at Swift's response to his purchase of Big Machine, and to share that he's tried to discuss the matter with Swift in the months since then, but she's "rejected" his offers. "It almost feels as if you have no interest in ever resolving the conflict," he adds.
"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," Braun continues. "I will make myself available whenever works for you ... I'm right here, ready to speak directly and respectfully."
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