In the latest salvo in a rapidly evolving media battle that has evolved over the past 15 hours, Taylor Swift refuted Big Machine Records’ claim that the company did not try to block her from using material from her early albums, which are owned by the label, in forthcoming television specials.
Swift had leveled those claims against the company Thursday night, stating she was being denied the use of her Big Machine era songs in the forthcoming American Music Awards and a Netflix documentary; Big Machine denied those claims in a general but not specific sense in a statement early Friday.
Big Machine also claimed that Swift owes the company “millions of dollars and multiple assets,” which the singer refuted by claiming Big Machine owes her nearly $8 million in unpaid royalties.
“The truth is, on October 28, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group sent Taylor Swift’s team the following:
“‘Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects:
The Netflix documentary and
The Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event’ [an event in China at which Swift performed last week].
“To avoid an argument over rights, Taylor performed three songs off her new album ‘Lover’ at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement. In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.
“Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”
Variety has seen a document that appears to support her claims about Big Machine denying song use, although its authenticity could not immediately be independently verified.
Swift says in her posts that the Big Machine team told her she would be allowed the use of her old songs only if she agreed not to re-record them in the future — a non-starter for her, she says — and if she affirmed she would not speak negatively of the company going forward.
Normally, performing older material live when the master recordings are held by someone else shouldn’t require permission, except Swift claims that Borchetta and Braun are contending that a performance of them on the AMAs constitutes “re-recording them before I’m allowed to next year.” She also said “Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for [the Netflix documentary].” Her Big Machine contract states that she may not re-record material from her period with the label until November of next year.