In a confusing series of conflicting statements on Monday, Big Machine Records claimed that it had reached an agreement with Dick Clark Productions that would allow Taylor Swift to perform songs from her stint with the label on the American Music Awards this weekend — which was a key point in last week’s public dispute between Swift and her former record company — only to have show producer Dick Clark Productions deny that any such agreement had been reached.
While Big Machine had included DCP in its statements — which it revised at least twice — a statement from DCP clarifies: “At no time did dick clark productions agree to, create, authorize or distribute a statement in partnership with Big Machine Label Group regarding Taylor Swift’s performance at the 2019 American Music Awards. Any final agreement on this matter needs to be made directly with Taylor Swift’s management team. We have no further comment.” A rep for Swift did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for additional comment.
It was unclear at the time of this article’s publication exactly what is taking place, but a statement from BMLG earlier on Monday, which was reported by Variety and multiple other outlets, reads: “The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists’ performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms. This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances. It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media. Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists’ audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed.”
It is rare for a company of Big Machine’s stature to make a statement on behalf of another major company without prior approval. Says a source: “The media confusion was frustrating.”
Monday’s battle is the latest in a growing series of skirmishes between Big Machine and Swift, which began on June 30, when Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun and BMLG founder Scott Borchetta announced that the label — and the rights to Swift’s first six albums — had been acquired by a Braun-led group of investors for a reported $300 million. Swift called the deal her “worst case scenario” and said Braun had a history of publicly “bullying” her that stretched back several years.
Last week, Swift posted an impassioned plea to fans stating that the label was blocking her from performing her hits from her first six albums on the AMAs. While a label commonly cannot block the performance of songs from its catalog — although it can block the use of recordings of those songs that it owns — an argument could be made that a west coast broadcast of a live show is, technically, a taped version of a song.
Swift blasted Braun and Borchetta on social media, bringing the matter into the open and claiming that Big Machine threatened to also block her from using her older material in a forthcoming Netflix documentary.