Taylor Swift is using her greatest weapon in the fight to own her master recordings: her public vulnerability. Swift, in a message posted to all her social media channels on Thursday night, said that she hoped to perform her past decade of songwriting (which, remember, she does not own the rights to) in a medley at the American Music Awards to celebrate her Artist of the Decade Award, but now Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun say she cannot perform her old songs on TV as that would supposedly breach her contract that says she can’t re-record the old songs (that Borchetta and Braun own) until next year.
Swift said this throw down by the two men also puts a Netflix documentary about her life into jeopardy because it uses “older music or performance footage” despite not mentioning either men. (I take this to mean that Swift doesn’t Borchetta and Braun buying her masters.)
In her statement, she further says she’ll only be allowed to use her old music in recorded performances if she agrees to not re-record the songs next year. Swift has said and reiterated her desire to re-record her music in Thursday’s statement.
She also asked her fans for help. “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this,” Swift said in the statement. Those “several artists”—I’m guessing—are Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and Justin Bieber.
Here’s the text of her statement, released on both Instagram and Twitter:
“Guys — It’s been announced recently that the American Music Awards will be honoring me with the Artist of the Decade Award at this year’s ceremony. I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.
Additionally — and this isn’t the way I had planned on telling you this news — Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.
Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.
I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl nd shut up. or you’ll be punished.
This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans. So this is where I’m asking for your help.
Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this — I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote. I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men.
I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music. That’s it. I’ve tried to work this out privately through my team but have not been able to resolve anything. Right now my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and another other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark. I love you guys and I thought you should know what’s been going on.
The entire statement is another move in the PR game that Braun and Borchetta don’t seem to understand, but to fans, I think the last part might be the most immediately troubling: “Right now my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and another other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.” It’s unclear if that also means her East and West coast stadium performances for Lover, which Swift has said she hoped would be experienced in a festival-like atmosphere called Lover Fest. Big Machine, Swift’s first record label, hasn’t publicly commented. [Twitter]
Boycotting didn’t work, so Mo’Nique is taking Netflix to court. As a reminder, the comedian asked her fans to boycott the streaming platform in January 2018 after she was offered significantly lower fee for a comedy special than other colleagues.
The suit accuses Netflix of both racial and gender discrimination in their attempt to underpay Mo’Nique when they offered $500,000 for a comedy special. “Despite Mo’Nique’s extensive résumé and documented history of comedic success, when Netflix presented her with an offer of employment for an exclusive stand-up comedy special, Netflix made a lowball offer that was only a fraction of what Netflix paid other (non-Black female) comedians,” reads the lawsuit, which was obtained by NBC News.
In the 39-page lawsuit, Mo’Nique is seeking unspecified damages. The lawsuit alleges the under-market fee perpetuates the pay gap between men and women as well as between black women and other female performers. “When the talent was not a Black woman, Netflix offered to pay, and did pay, astronomically more than it pays to Black women like it offered to Mo’Nique,” the lawsuit said.
Netflix is fighting the lawsuit and denies the allegations. An unnamed Netflix spokesperson told NBC News: “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously. We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
The Oscar winner also posted about the lawsuit on Instagram.
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