A Timeline Of What Happened After Scooter Braun Acquired Taylor Swift's Big Machine Catalog

Taylor Swift
Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Taylor Swift attends the 2019 Billboard Music Awards on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas.

News broke on Sunday, June 30, 2019 that Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Records along with Taylor Swift’s six-album catalog. Swift was apparently shocked, and shared her thoughts through a heartbreaking Tumblr post soon after.

Since the story hit, there’s been a lot of “he said, she said” on both sides, with Big Machine founder/CEO Scott Borchetta responding to former iconic BMLG star Swift’s post with his own letter, followed by several other artists chiming in with their opinions. 

Here's a timeline of everything that's happened so far.

Braun acquires Borchetta’s Big Machine Records Label Group, including Swift's catalog for over $300 million

It was announced on June 30 that Braun’s Ithaca Holdings agreed to acquire Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group in a blockbuster deal backed by the massive global investment firm the Carlyle Group. The deal topped $300 million and also included Big Machine Music, the music publishing operation. 

“The idea of Scott and I working together is nothing new, we’ve been talking about it since the beginning of our friendship,” Braun said in a statement. “I reached out to him when I saw an opportunity and, after many conversations, realized our visions were aligned. He’s built a brilliant company full of iconic songs and artists. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? By joining together, we will create more opportunities for artists than ever before, by giving them the support and tools to go after whatever dreams they wish to pursue.”

The deal is being financed by the Carlyle Group’s Carlyle Partners VI Fund, alongside Braun and Ithaca Holdings. The company also announced that Carlyle will remain a minority shareholder in Ithaca and continue to support the combined company’s growth strategy with Carlyle Group global consumer, media and retail team head Jay Sammons remaining on Ithaca’s board. Borchetta will acquire a minority interest in Ithaca and join its board while remaining president and CEO of BMLG.

The company lost Swift to Universal Music Group's Republic Records last year, but still retains her catalog. Other artists on their current roster include Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Brantley Gilbert, Lady Antebellum, Cheap Trick and Jennifer Nettles.

Swift responds to the announcement via a passionate Tumblr post

In her letter, posted shortly after the announcement, the megastar outlined why she was so upset with this new development. She said that she learned of the deal “as it was announced to the world,” but according to a Billboard source, her team knew about the acquisition since Tuesday (June 25), when Big Machine held a shareholders meeting to discuss the deal. 

Her father, Scott Swift, also owns a small stake in Big Machine (about 4%). Braun is buying out his stake, as well as those of other minority shareholders. 

Swift went on to share that the deal made her revisit all of the times she was bullied by Braun and his clients. "Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it," she said. "Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it." 

She also went on to question Borchetta’s loyalty, saying that he knew how Swift felt about Braun. 

Borchetta responds to Swift with his own letter

The Big Machine label founder/CEO penned a letter titled, “So, It’s Time for Some Truth,” posted on Sunday night (June 30). He shared that he texted Swift the night before the deal went public: “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. 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.’”

In a response to a proposal between Swift’s management team and her attorney Don Passman, named “TS Proposal” and dated Aug. 15, 2018, BMLG agreed that “Upon execution [of a new contract], “BMLG shall assign to TS all recordings (audio and/or visual), artwork, photographs and any other materials relating to TS which BMLG owns or controls.” Swift’s team was asking for a new seven-year contract, while BMLG wanted a 10-year deal. 

He also responded to Swift’s comment about fighting back tears every time Braun’s name was brought up: “Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and [Braun client] Justin Bieber? Yes….Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor.”

Fellow pop stars begin to pick sides, Justin Bieber calls Swift out

Demi Lovato took to her Instagram Story on Monday (July 1) to defend Braun ("I'm always gonna stay loyal to my team"), as did his most famous long-term client, Bieber. His started off as an apology: “First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive," Bieber wrote in the caption of a throwback photo. He took full responsibility and stressed that Braun "didn’t have anything to do with it and it wasn’t even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that."

But as the post went on, Bieber began to accuse Swift of the bullying. "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."


Hey Taylor. First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive.. 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” he 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. Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you. I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont believe solves anything. I’m sure Scooter and i would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or or any feelings that need to be addressed. 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..

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

Halsey, Todrick Hall and Joseph Kahn stand with Swift

Halsey posted with a heartfelt note, sharing her point of view: "Taylor Swift is a huge reason why I always insisted to write my own music. I believed if she did it (in a way that made my teeth ache like cold water and my heart swell and my eyes leak) than I should too. Cause that's how to make someone feel. To drag it from the pits of your heart. To offer it on a platter and say 'take some but take kindly.' She deserves to own the painstaking labor of her heart."

"It turns my guts that no matter how much power or success a woman has in this life, you are still susceptible to someone coming along and making you feel powerless out of spite," she continued. "It speaks volumes to how far we have to come in the music industry."

Hall also responded, accusing Braun of being “an evil person who’s only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego.” He went on to say, “I believe he is homophobic & I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.” 

Kahn, a frequent director of Swift’s music videos, also shared: “I feel terrible for Taylor. This is the record business at it’s most ruthless and shady. She is genuinely one of the nicest people ever and does not deserve this. She should own her work.” 

Yael Cohen defends her husband, Braun 

Cohen took to Instagram to defend her husband: "Your dad is a shareholder and was notified, and Borchetta personally told you this before it came out. So no, you didn't find out with the world." She went on to address Swift’s bullying comment, “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."

A spokesperson for Swift denied that her father Scott knew of the deal in advance, telling People, "Scott Swift is not on the board of directors and has never been. On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty."


@taylorswift, I’m here to talk privately anytime.

A post shared by Yael Cohen Braun (@yael) on

Swift's attorney speaks out

Swift's attorney, Don Passman, stepped into the battle with a statement on July 2: "Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others."

Passman almost never comments on artists' deals, so it was an unusual move for him to speak out on the case at all. He declined to comment beyond the statement to Billboard.

Swift announces her plan to re-record her old albums

In an exclusive interview on Aug. 25 with CBS This Morning to promote Lover, Swift announced a plan to circumvent Braun's purchase of her masters altogether by re-recording each of her first six albums. During the sit-down, she also shades Borchetta's choice to sell her masters to Braun, saying, "I knew he would sell my music, I knew he would do that. I couldn't believe who he sold it to. Because we've had endless conversations about Scooter Braun, and he has 300 million reasons to conveniently forget those conversations."

Swift alleges Braun and Borchetta are "exercising tyrannical control" over her music in American Music Awards statement

After months of simmering tension, Swift's dispute with Braun and Borchetta reached a new level on Thursday (Nov. 15). In a viral post across her social media platforms, the superstar accused Braun and her former label boss of refusing to allow her to use any songs from her back catalog in her performance at the upcoming American Music Awards, where she was set to be honored as artist of the decade. Additionally, Swift claimed the two men were denying use of her older hits in a previously-unannounced Netflix documentary about her life and claimed "any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark."

Big Machine Label Group responds, denying the allegations

In an unsigned press release posted to their website, Swift's former label refuted her claims. The label denied keeping her from performing at the AMAs or blocking the Netlfix special -- without directly addressing the use of her past hits in either -- and fired back an allegation that Swift "has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company."

#IStandWithTaylor: Celebs take Swift's side once again

Halsey, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid and more pals and peers of Swift took to social media to stand by her. "My heart is so heavy write now," Gomez wrote. "It makes me sick and extremely angry. (I [don't] mind if there may be retaliation) this is my opinion. It's greed, manipulation and power."

Swift's rep hits back, claims Big Machine owns singer $7.9 million in unpaid royalties

Swift's publicist, Tree Paine, promptly issued a statement confirming Borchetta "flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix" before adding, "Please notice in Big Machine's statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post." Furthermore, the statement accused Swift's former label of "trying to deflect and make this about money" and retaliated by maintaining that "a professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years,"

Swift gets gets green light from Big Machine to perform old songs at AMAs

Though Swift was not mentioned by name, a representative for Big Machine said in a statement to Billboard that the company has "agreed to grant all licenses of their artists' performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms."

"It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media," the statement continues. "Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists' audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed."


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