This is a topic that I have been thinking over for a very long time now. It’s quite controversial and one that I was hesitant to get in to, specifically because it’s something that I believe we really have no business in being a part of. But at this point, I just have a lot of lingering thoughts on the subject and I figured I’d try to get them out. So, without further ado, lets get into some very, very stale tea: the drama between Taylor Swift and her old record label.
I’m sure that most of us at this point have heard all of the drama and read all the other articles about this situation. Scooter Braun bought Big Machine Records which housed Taylor Swift and lots of other well-known acts. He now owns her master recordings that she claims she never got the chance to purchase herself, claims that he bullied her for years and got her clients to bully her, and then later claimed tried to stop her from performing at the American Music Awards. Of course, her old label had to retaliate, and they basically claimed that there was a miscommunication between them and her, and that they have tired reaching out to meet without luck. It’s a whole game of he said, she said. Honestly, reading these stories about their feud feels like I’m back in middle school and I was over this drama as soon as it began. But with the most recent development of Taylor posting on her Instagram to say that she was told by fans that her former label is putting out a live album without her permission, I am starting to just become annoyed by what’s going on. Both parties are wrong in this situation in some way or another and I just don’t understand why this is getting as much attention as it is.
Now, before I get started, I do want to get out there that I am a fan of Taylor Swift. I have been following her since around 2008 when Fearless was released, have owned almost all of her CDs in physical format, song books for my guitar, T shirts, etc. I believe that she is truly so talented and she has so much potential, and that she really connects with a lot of people and cares about her family, friends and fans. In no way shape or form do I want this to be an article bashing her or her former label; that’s not what I’m here for. I simply want to point out a few things that I’m finding that aren’t necessarily the best behavior or don’t make a lot of sense in this feud.
With all of the drama that has insinuated since the purchase of her old record label, I have not been particularly fond of the way anyone has been handling the problem, for a plethora of reasons that just keep on growing. To begin, the biggest issue that I have come across is simply that we, as fans, have absolutely no business knowing what is actually going on between the two parties because when it comes down to it, this is a problem with their work relationship. I’m sure we’ve all been in a spot where someone either from your job or a friends job posts a scathing accusation or rant on social media about work, knowing full well that most people don’t care or have no reason to care. Especially when it comes to an employment contract as dense as a recording contract, we have absolutely no right to know the details of her contract, nor do the majority of us have any semblance or understanding of a complicated relationship like theirs. Your employment details are between you and your employer, not the rest of the world. Hence, making the back and forth statements between the two completely pointless. “You did and said this!” and “No, you’re wrong, because you did and said this!” literally don’t get anybody anywhere and just leave people genuinely confused. These are clearly such pressing issues and the best thing to do would be for both parties to sit down and have an adult conversation to sort things out, although both parties had allergy said that they tried to get in contact with each other to no avail.
This issue that, like I said before, could be resolved much better in private, has now escalated into many different topics. For one, Big Machine allegedly barred Taylor from performing her old songs during her 2019 American Music Awards performance where she was being honored woman of the decade. This again generated an incessant array of statements from both parties that delves into the details of how the music industry works and her specific contract with them. AGAIN, this is a complicated manner that most people will never understand and something that doesn’t need to be so highly publicized. But one thing Taylor specifically wrote in her statement irked me a bit. She wrote “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this”. Seems innocent at first right? Not exactly. She knew exactly the type of negative reaction that would generate from her fanbase and she did it anyway which is irresponsible and instigates bullying. Coming from someone who says how much bullying has affected her life, doing it to others is hypocritical. Of course, she didn’t necessarily tell her fans to go attack these people but she also never clarified to not spam their social medias with hate comments (which I’m sure she knew would happen). Along with that, her fans cannot pressure these people to do anything they don’t want to, regardless of if what Taylor is saying is true or not. I’m basically beating a dead horse at this point, but THIS IS SOMETHING THE TWO PARTIES NEED TO WORK OUT IN PRIVATE.
The final point I have in this discussion is the most recent development at the time of writing, and that is the live album released allegedly without Taylor’s approval. Apparently, her fans contacted her about a live album that was being released that was initially recorded in 2008. In her statement on Instagram (who else is tired of this already?), after calling out by name all of the people involved in the purchase (who we really don’t care about), she wrote that they finally “realized that paying $330 million for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice”. There are a few contradictions with this new issue. Firstly, they bought the entire company, not just specially Taylor’s masters, lets keep that in mind. For her to keep saying “they bought my masters”, “MY masters”, “I don’t own MY masters”, is not only narcissistic, it’s incredibly selfish as well. Most artists will never have the rights to their master recordings, but with that we need to take into consideration that Big Machine has plenty of other successful artists on its roster (present and former) including Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Garth Brooks and many others. This might not be her intentions, but Taylor is basically insinuating that the other artists on this roster aren’t good enough and don’t make money. That’s what it might look like from their perspectives, and I find that to be very insulting and incorrect. In this most recent development, I’m finding it difficult to see the issue from her perspective because of the way her statement was so poorly worded. Along with that, one thing that I noticed while trying to research this live album, I saw that Big Machine had uploaded it to their YouTube channel, but they weren’t the only ones: Taylor Swift’s official YouTube has also uploaded these songs with “Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group” written in the description. Now isn’t that strange, that her new record label is also putting out these songs without her knowledge or approval? Along with the fact these songs were already allegedly released, just not on these specific platforms, raises another issue. It’s not like they were unreleased songs held in a vault somewhere, or remixes, or an album made up of unfinished songs somewhere. If that is the case, then they were already a part of her discography, just not available for all fans to listen to. This situation, again, needs to be spoken about directly between her and her former label.
In my personal opinion, this situation is being taken to places where it really doesn’t need to go. The back and forth public statements and accusations generate confusion on an issue that should have been worked out outside of the public eye. Clearly someone is lying about the miscommunication and we might never know who it is, but as I’ve said numerous times before, it’s not our place to know because it is not our battle to fight. As much as I want to support Taylor, I don’t find it right to insert myself into a situation that is more of a personal problem with her former employment company. There are errors on both sides and truthfully, I don’t find either side to be completely correct about any of their problems. Is Big Machine really trying to sabotage her career and intentionally hurt her? It’s a possibility. Did they maybe not always treat her the best? Yeah, sure. Is Taylor the one in the wrong, blowing it all out of proportion? Maybe. Could she have handled this all a lot better and reworded some of her statements? Maybe. But is this a problem the fans should have any involvement in? Absolutely not. Is this something that should be blasted all over the internet for everyone to comment on? No. Because at the end of it, this relationship isn’t going to be fixed by issuing statements and comments over the internet and nobody can resolve it but Taylor and Big Machine. And if you’re the type of fan that claims, “the label made a problem with her, so that makes a problem with me”, well honey, you need to find something better to do with your time.