17 November 2020 10:38
Taylor Swift will be unable to buy her master recordings unless she signs an "ironclad" non-disclosure agreement with talent manager Scott Braun after he sold them to a private equity firm, the popstar said on Monday. She said before negotiations over buying back her work could start, Mr Braun's team wanted her to sign an "ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word" about him "unless it was positive". Ms Swift said a private equity firm called Shamrock Holdings had bought "100% of my music, videos and album art" from Mr Braun. She said the company told her Braun had insisted they make no contact with Swift before the sale was final or the deal would be off. Ms Swift said the terms of the deal mean Braun will "continue to profit off my old musical catalogue for many years" and his involvement means she will not forge a partnership with Shamrock Holdings.
Ms Swift also shared what she said was a letter in response to the private equity firm which now owns her first six albums including hits like "Shake it off" and "You Belong to Me" Mr Braun bought most of Swift's back catalogue when his company, Ithaca Holdings, purchased Big Machine Label Group, her first record label. Ms Swift's contract with Big Machine ran out in 2018 and she signed a deal with Universal Music Group which gave her the rights to her recordings. Speaking at the time Braun bought Big Machine, Ms Swift said she was "sad" and "grossed out" and accused the 39-year-old of being behind "incessant, manipulative bullying". If Ms Swift re-recorded her old music she could try and ensure the new versions are streamed by fans and used in any other projects, taking away revenue from the owner of the old versions. Scooter Braun has sold Taylor Swift's masters for more than $300 million, it is being reported.
But on Monday, Variety reported that Scooter had sold the master rights of Taylor's first six albums for over $300 million. Taylor claimed that her team tried to enter negotiations to buy her back catalogue from Scooter – but she was allegedly asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she couldn't agree to. Taylor claimed they would "not even quote my team a price", before adding, "these master recordings were not for sale to me". The 30-year-old said a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings was the one to purchase her masters – but Ithaca Holdings would still profit off her old music for "many years". Taylor told fans that Shamrock Holdings reached out to her last month, with hopes of working together in the future.
Swift (left) has been trying to get her master recording rights back from Braun (right) since he bought them last year US singer Taylor Swift has confirmed a report that music mogul Scooter Braun has sold the rights to her first six albums. US entertainment magazine Variety first reported on Monday that Braun had sold the recordings - known as masters - to an investment fund. Swift signed a deal with record label Big Machine in 2004 granting them ownership of the master recordings to her first six albums in exchange for a cash advance to kick-start her career. In the music industry, ownership of masters means you control what can be done with the original recording of a song or album, from re-releases and box sets to making it available for use in an advert or on a streaming platform. Braun bought Big Machine in June 2019, and with it the rights to most of Swift's work. Swift, as the writer or co-writer of her music, still owns the publishing rights, which means she has power to veto some of Braun's attempts to exploit her recordings. Speaking to Billboard magazine last year, she said she had turned down "dozens of requests" for the use of Shake It Off every week since Braun bought her back catalogue. In her latest statement, Swift said she had been "actively trying to regain ownership of my master recordings" in 2020 and had tried to enter talks with Braun. She said Braun's legal team wanted her to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating "I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive". Then just a few weeks ago, Swift wrote, she was contacted by private equity company Shamrock Holdings who said they had bought her music and album art from Braun. While she was "open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock", she learnt that under the terms Braun "will continue to profit off my old music" for years. "I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefiting Scooter Braun's interests," she wrote in a letter she sent to the company, which she included in her tweet. She also said she has begun re-recording some of her older music and thanked her fans for their support. When his company, Ithaca Holdings, paid $300m to acquire Swift's former record label last year, Swift saw it as an act of aggression that "stripped me of my life's work". Shamrock Capital, which now owns Swift's first six albums, is a private equity firm originally set up by the Disney family. In a statement obtained by Billboard, the company said: "Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalogue.