So what’s this big music industry dust-up between Taylor Swift and Big Machine? Here’s a step-by-step explanation.

Taylor Swift lost her sh*t over the weekend when news came out that her former manager Scott Borchetta sold Big Machine to Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s manager. What’s going on? Why all the drama? And why is everyone yelling at each other?

Let’s take this apart.

  1. Big Machine is a management company/record label founded by Borchetta, the guy who helped develop Taylor Swift into the star she is today. The stable also includes Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, Lady Antebellum, and Cheap Trick. No bad, right?
  2. According to statements from the buyer and the seller, it looks like Borchetta and Braun will be working together on…something related to this sale.
  3. Taylor Swift left Big Machine last November for Republic Records, an imprint of Universal Music Group.
  4. However, ownership of her master recordings stayed with Big Machine. (It’s common to have a label contractually own master recordings of their artists. )
  5. Taylor says found out about the deal online Sunday morning. This did not make her happy.
  6. In a statement, she claimed that Braun has “stripped me of my life’s work and that he’s been the source of “incessant manipulative bullying” for years. (“[B]ullying me on social media when I was at my lowest point.”)
  7. But those Instagram posts came from Justin Bieber, who now says he’s sorry.
  8. Tay-Tay is alluding the ownership of the masters of her back catalogue, something that she’s been trying to acquire for years. That’s six multi-multi-platinum albums, which is obviously a big part of the $300 million selling price.
  9. From her statement: “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead, I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future.”
  10. On the other hand, Borchetta says that Taylor was offered a chance to own those masters.
  11. He also fired back this statement that basically calls out Tay-Tay for twisting the truth.
  12. Note that her dad is a shareholder in Big Machine and was part of the negotiations in the days and weeks leading to this sale. So Dad didn’t tell his daughter what was going on?
  13. Or is Scott Swift a member of the board of directors? Did he attend the crucial meeting regarding the sale on June 25? Apparently not.
  14. Why didn’t Taylor buy Big Machine herself? She could have afforded it. Unknown.
  15. Will Braun now cut a deal with Taylor whereby he sells her the rights to her masters to (a) offset the costs of the sale and (b) come out looking like a good guy? Unknown.
  16. Meanwhile, Taylor says she remains “sad and grossed out.”
  17. The Swifties are, predictably, taking the side of you-know-who.
  18. And, er, that’s it.

If you want a deeper look go to Variety. Swiftie talk here. Another view here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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