Anyone who’s followed her career in the last few years will know that things move very quickly in the world of Taylor Swift, including her latest high-profile feud, which has managed to pull in some of the most famous names in music in the space of 24 hours.
On Sunday, Taylor called out music manager Scooter Braun, whose name might not ring any bells to you, but his A-list clients certainly will, as they include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and a little-known rapper called Kanye West (although he and Scooter have since parted ways).
Things have already become a little messy and confusing, so for anyone not fully up to speed with what’s going on with Taylor, Scooter and various other relevant artists, here’s the full lowdown...
Taylor Swift left her record label of 12 years, Big Machine, in 2018
This might not seem relevant right now, but we promise it’ll make sense as things unfold.
So, Taylor signed with the country label Big Machine in 2006, at the age of 17, before eventually parting ways with them in November of last year, announcing she was making the move to Universal.
At the time, Taylor made a point of saying that she was particularly looking forward to “owning all of [the] master recordings that [she] makes from now on”.
Yes, that means that all of Taylor’s recordings – including a whole lot of unreleased music – is technically the property of Big Machine, rather than Taylor herself, even though she wrote or co-wrote almost all of it.
Eight months later, it was announced that Scooter Braun had bought Big Machine in a deal reportedly worth around £237 million
Over the weekend, it was announced that Scooter had bought Big Machine, and was therefore the owner of Taylor’s first six albums, from her 2006 self-titled debut right through to 2017’s Reputation.
Also signed to Big Machine are singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow and country stars Reba McEntire and Lady Antebellum.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Scooter spent as much as $300 million from the deal, though no official figure has been given.
Shortly after the deal was announced, Taylor posted a statement calling the outcome her “worst case scenario”
In a lengthy statement she posted on Tumblr, Taylor said that “never in her worst nightmares” would this have been the outcome when Big Machine was sold.
She wrote: “Any time Scott Borchetta [the founder of Big Machine] has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”
Taylor signed off the post “sad and grossed out”, pointing out that while she’d “always be proud of her past work”, she was now turning her attention to her next album Lover, which is released in August.
But hang on, why is she so upset?
Taylor’s apparent heartbreak makes a bit more sense when you find out that Scooter Braun was managing Kanye West around the release of Life Of Pablo – the album which features Famous, the rapper’s song that includes the lyrics: “me and Taylor might still have sex… why? I made that bitch famous.”
In her Tumblr post, Taylor references “incessant manipulative bullying” she’s received “at his hands for years”, specifically referencing Kim Kardashian’s infamous phone call leak (more on that here), and Kanye West’s Famous music video.
For those who’ve forgotten, Taylor is one of several famous figures who are depicted in the Famous video, where a wax model of her is seen naked and asleep in bed with Kanye and his wife Kim Kardashian, alongside the likes of Rihanna, Chris Brown, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby.
Taylor has never addressed the video before, but refers to it in her Tumblr post as a “revenge porn music video which strips her body naked”.
The post also features a screengrab of an Instagram post from Justin Bieber, another of Scooter’s clients. In the image, he’s seen on Facetime to Scooter and Kanye, with the caption reading “what up taylor swift”. She referred to as an instance of him “bullying her on social media”.
Read Taylor’s post in full below:
So, what happened after Taylor posted that Justin Bieber screenshot?
First of all, Justin apologised about the “hurtful” Instagram post that Taylor references in her piece, but points out that it was his mistake, and suggests Scooter actually tried to discourage him from sharing the post in the first place.
“At the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive,” Justin wrote. “I have to be honest though it was my caption and post that I screenshoted of scooter and Kanye that said ‘taylor swift what up’ [Scotter] didnt have anything to do with it and it wasnt even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that..
“Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.! As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter.”
He added: “Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you.
“I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line..”
Among those that commented on the post are Justin’s new wife Hailey, who wrote simply “gentleman”, which… yeah…
Has Scooter Braun said anything about the debacle himself?
He’s actually been noticeably quiet throughout all of this, but several of his clients have jumped to his defence, as has his wife, Yael Cohen.
In her own Instagram post, Yael mirrored Justin’s comments, insisting Scooter has supported Taylor and believed in her “more than she believes in herself” throughout her career.
Calling back to Taylor’s “bullying” accusations, she wrote: “Girl, who are you to talk about bullying. The world has watched you collect and drop friends like wilted flowers. My husband is anything but a bully, he’s spent his life standing up for people and causes he believes in. Beyond that, it’s easy to see that the point of putting this out was to get people to bully him. You are supposed to be a role model, but continue to model bullying.
“How embarrassing this temper tantrum is because you didn’t get your own way,” Yael added. “He believes in and supports you, I sincerely hope you can learn to love and believe in yourself the way my husband does.”
Singer Demi Lovato signed with Scooter in May, and posted her own defence on her Instagram story, noting: “I have dealt with bad people in this industry and Scooter is not one of them… please stop ‘dragging’ people or bullying them. There’s enough hate in this world as there is.”
Ariana Grande – another of Scooter’s clients, who recently voiced support for Taylor when she released her new single You Need To Calm Down – took a more neutral approach, but did congratulate her manager shortly after Taylor’s Tumblr post went up.
Has Big Machine said anything?
They certainly have, and unsurprisingly they have a rather different version of events.
Specifically, CEO Scott Borchetta cast doubt over the singer’s claims she found out about Scooter’s acquisition of Big Machine at the same time as the rest of the world, suggesting her father had been in on a phone call about it five days earlier. He also claimed to have texted her personally a night earlier “so she could hear it directly from me”.
“I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days,” Scott wrote. “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’.”
Taylor’s representative has already issued a response to this, telling People: “Her dad did not join that call because he did not want to be required to withhold any information from his own daughter. Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta and he did not call her in advance.”
Interestingly, Scott also claimed: “Taylor 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.”
Has anyone stuck up for Taylor?
Probably the biggest name to defend Taylor is fellow singer/songwriter Halsey, who said the situation “speaks volumes about how far we have to come in the music industry”.
Taylor’s friend and frequent collaborator Todrick Hall also jumped to her defence, referring to Scooter as an “evil person” and writing: “I feel terrible for Taylor. This is the record business at its most ruthless and shady. She is genuinely one of the nicest people ever and does not deserve this. She should own her work. These people are soulless.”
Similarly, Iggy Azalea has tweeted a message of support...
Meanwhile, according to the website DoesFollow, pop stars Beyoncé, Rihanna, Adele and Lana Del Rey are among those who have unfollowed Scooter on Twitter in the last 24 hours.
Our favourite message of support, though, came from Cher, who wrote the following...
Aside from that, the rest of the industry – and her former “squad” – has been fairly tight-lipped about the whole thing, but we suspect we haven’t heard the last of it all just yet...