Three years later Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings has acquired the original Taylor Swift masters from Big Machine, the music director talks about the “important lesson” he claims to have learned from the saga. On Friday, Braun appeared on NPR Limits podcast to talk about the lessons of drama-laden, as he admitted he came from a “place of arrogance,” assuming he and Swift could work things out.
“I was thrilled to work with all the artists on the label. So when we finalized the deal, I started making phone calls saying, hey, I’m a part of this. And before I even can do it…all hell broke loose,” Braun said, apparently describing a post from Swift condemning the Braun acquisition as her “worst-case scenario” and saying she learned about it “as he was announced to the world.” (Braun said he was under NDA.)
“I think a lot of things got lost in translation. I think when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation,” Braun said on the podcast. “So the regret I have there is that I assumed that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s do business together. And I made that assumption with people I didn’t know.
To recap the deal: Braun bought Swift’s catalog when Ithaca Holdings (the company Braun owns) acquired Big Machine Records, Swift’s former label, which was owned by Scott Borchetta, the man who signed Swift to 15 years old. The case was reportedly worth $300. million. Swift said at the time that she never had the opportunity to buy the masters. (Borchetta claims she was.) The deal resulted in Swift re-recording all of her old albums — so far, she’s been out. Taylor’s versions of Red and Without fear.
“When I made this deal…I was under a very strict NDA with the gentleman who owned it, and I couldn’t tell any artists. I wasn’t allowed to. I wasn’t legally allowed to do that,” Braun said in the interview. “What I told him was if any of the artists want to come back and join this, you have to let me know. And he shared with me a letter that’s there publicly – you know, the artist you’re talking about said, I don’t want to participate in my masters. I decided, you know, not to do this deal, blah, blah, blah. So that was the idea I had.
He later added, “I didn’t like how it all happened. I thought that was unfair. But I also understand, on the other side, that they probably thought it was unfair too.
At the time of the acquisition, Swift was adamant that Borchetta “knew what he was doing” when he agreed to sell his business to Braun. “When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that he would eventually sell them,” Swift wrote. “Never in my worst nightmares would I have imagined that the buyer would be Scooter.”
Braun says he was “excited to work with all the artists on the label”. But in her post, Swift shared a photo of Braun posing with Kanye West (in the midst of 2009 MTV VMAs drama) while on FaceTime with Justin Bieber, as the pop star captioned the post, ” Taylor Swift what’s up.”
“I can’t put myself in a position of arrogance to think that someone would just be willing to have a conversation and be happy to work with me,” Braun said in his interview. “I don’t know these people.”
A few months after the Braun-Swift saga, Braun ended up selling Swift’s catalog to investment firm Shamrock Holdings for over $300 million. “It was the second time my music was sold without my knowledge,” Swift said at the time.