celebrity

"My worst nightmare." What the hell is happening with Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

The list of Taylor Swift’s accomplishments as an artist is extremely long.

Highlights include:

  • Writing an entire Grammy-nominated album on her own with no co-writers
  • Becoming the youngest ever winner of the Grammy for Album of the Year
  • Being the first (and only) artist to ever debut four albums with at least one million copies sold in their first week

Whether you’re a fan or not, there is simply no denying that Taylor Swift is an absolute powerhouse in the music business.

But even a woman with as much power as Swift cannot avoid the injustices of such a cut-throat business.

The 29-year-old has penned a Tumblr post after learning that her long-time manager Scott Borchetta, who she parted ways with in 2018 after 12 years, sold his label Big Machine Records to Scooter Braun, the controversial manager of Justin Bieber.

Borchetta owned the rights to her back catalogue, which means Braun now stands to make millions off of Swift’s past music.

And she is pissed. If you’re wondering what’s going on, and why Swift has described it as her “worst nightmare”, we’ve got you covered:

What is going on with Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun?

Scooter Braun is best known as the manager who discovered Justin Bieber, but he also represents other big names including Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepson and Demi Lovato.

On Sunday (Monday, AEST), it was announced that Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings was acquiring Big Machine Label Group, the label that released all of Taylor Swift’s studio albums and owns her masters.

Swift said she learned of the sale as it was announced to the world.

Why is Taylor Swift so upset?

After learning of the news, Swift published a lengthy Tumblr post saying that for years, she begged for the opportunity to own the rights to her own work but Scott Borchetta, the owner of Big Machine Records, had only allowed her to “‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in”.

She left the label in 2018, because she knew that if she resigned, Borchetta would sell the label and “thereby selling me and my future”.

“I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums,” she wrote.

But the biggest issue stemmed from who Borchetta sold her music to: Scooter Braun.

In her post, Swift claimed Braun had been involved in “incessant, manipulative bullying” of her for years.

It was, she said, her “worst case scenario”.

“When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did.

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“Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”

Borchetta released a statement, saying that Swift’s father Scott Swift – a minor shareholder in the company – would have been alerted to the pending deal with Braun on June 20 before it was passed on Friday, June 28.

Borchetta also said he texted Swift at 9.06pm on Saturday night “out of courtesy”.

He claimed Swift “had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career” if she had stayed with Big Machine, but she chose to change labels.

How are Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West involved?

Much of the bullying Swift referred to in her post is in reference to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s takedown of her in 2016.

She pointed to “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”.

With this, she uploaded an image from Justin Bieber’s Instagram – where he had captioned a video of himself FaceTiming with Braun and West with “Taylor Swift what up” – to make it clear they were mocking her.

justin bieber taylor swift
This caption is now gone from Bieber's post. Image: Instagram.

He has since edited the caption.

And if this isn't complicated enough, one of Bieber's big breaks came after he opened for Swift's Fearless tour in 2009. There's a lot of history here.

Swift also mentioned when Braun's former client, Kayne West, "organised a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked," in reference to West's Famous music video. In this, a Swift lookalike is naked in bed with him.

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"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," Swift wrote.

What are other celebrities saying?

It's almost unheard of for an artist to so publicly call out what goes on behind-the-scenes with labels and managers in the music biz, so Swift's post has - to put it lightly - caused an absolute sh*t storm.

Bieber, who's Instagram post mocking Swift was called out in her letter, has since apologised to her while also defending Braun.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on

"Hey Taylor. First of all I would like to apologise for posting that hurtful Instagram post, at the time I thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive," Bieber wrote.

"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."

He wrote that is wasn't fair for Taylor to air this publicly, as it would inevitably lead to her fans hating on Braun.

"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 [sic] online I don't 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."

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Cara Delevingne responded to Bieber's post, slamming his apology and his wife Hailey Bieber - who had earlier commented "gentleman" on the post.

"I wish you spent less time sticking up for men and more time trying to understand women and respecting their valid reactions," she wrote.

"The issue that @taylorswift is talking about is far more than a picture and you know that. As you said, you haven’t spoken to her in years which means you definitely don’t understand the situation. I do. Take a step back and try and learn from this. We should all be on the same team. End of story."

Bieber deleted her comment, but it has been immortalised on Instagram account Comments By Celebs.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

*Update to previous post. #CommentsByCelebs

A post shared by Comments By Celebs (@commentsbycelebs) on

Demi Lovato, who signed Braun on as her manager in May, posted on her Instagram story defending him.

"I have dealt with bad people in this industry and Scooter is not one of them," she said.

"Please stop 'dragging' people or bullying them. There's enough hate in this world as it is."

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One of the first to come out on Taylor Swift's side was close friend Todrick Hall, who used to be represented by Braun.

In his tweets, he described Braun as "an evil person who's only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego".

Fellow female artists Iggy Azalea, Haim and Halsey have posted messages of support on Twitter, as has model Martha Hunt.

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"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," Halsey wrote. "It speaks volumes to how far we have to come in the music industry."

Ariana Grande previously posted a congratulations to Braun on her Instagram story after the deal was announced, but she has since deleted it.

Fans are circulating ways to listen to Swift's music without earning Braun any money, and a petition has been created that is trying to get Swift to re-record the six albums Braun now controls (and was reportedly signed by Katy Perry).

Whatever happens here, it could have long-standing repercussions for the music industry. Don't expect this story to go away anytime soon.

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