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The Music Artists Coalition -- the recently-formed organization established to advocate for and protect the rights of artists -- has spoken out supporting Taylor Swift in the pop star’s ongoing battle with Big Machine Label Group head Scott Borchetta and the company's new owner Scooter Braun.
“The Music Artists Coalition supports the rights of all artists to control their music,” reads a statement released by the organization on Friday (Nov. 15). “Taylor Swift should be allowed to perform her songs where she wants and when she wants. And she should be allowed to use her music to tell her story through her documentary. For a label to take positions contrary to that would be unprecedented. We applaud Taylor for reminding all artists to be aware of their rights and to stand up for themselves.”
The Music Artists Coalition was formed in July by a collection of artists, managers, executives and attorneys including Irving Azoff, Don Henley, Anderson .Paak, Meghan Trainor and Dave Matthews. The organization’s aim is to give artists a voice in issues of compensation in the streaming age, with goals including raising the royalty rate paid out by streaming services, forming the Music Modernization Act’s Mechanical Licensing Collective and the reform of safe harbor protections.
“Artists decide their musical fate every time they write a song or step on stage,” said Henley in a statement to Billboard at the time. “Their true fate -- the ability to protect their music -- is being decided by others … bureaucrats, government legislators, and the powerful digital gatekeepers.”
The ongoing feud between Swift, Borchetta and Braun escalated on Thursday when Swift claimed on social media and her Tumblr blog that Big Machine was prohibiting her from performing a medley of her hits at the forthcoming American Music Awards -- where she’s slated to receive the Artist of the Decade honor -- as well as using her older music and performance footage in a new Netflix documentary charting her career. She further alleged that her team was informed she would be able to use the music in both productions only if she agreed not to re-record “copycat versions” of her songs next year -- which she had previously vowed to do -- and to cease publicly discussing Borchetta and Braun.
On Friday, Big Machine Label Group responded to Swift's statement, saying the company does "not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere," and rather, the dispute is regarding an unresolved payment issue between the parties. The label did not explicitly deny Swift's accusation regarding the re-recording of her music on the AMAs or anywhere else, only that it never said she couldn't perform live or be the subject of a documentary.
In turn, a rep for Swift issued a statement quoting a Big Machine Label Group staff member stating "BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with the Netflix documentary and another film around her Alibaba performance this past Monday.
Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine for a reported $300 million in June, a sale that included Swift’s first six albums. Following news of the acquisition, Swift publicly slammed the deal, calling Braun’s ownership of her master recordings her "worst case scenario.” She went on to allege that Braun had engaged in a campaign of "incessant, manipulative bullying" against her for years.
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