UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 18, 2 p.m. (ET) — It seems Taylor Swift will, indeed, be able to perform some of her old songs at this Sunday’s American Music Awards (AMA) ceremony, despite the pop star’s claims that her former record label, Big Machine Records (BMLG), blocked her from doing so last week.
As reported by Variety on Monday, the label came to terms on a licensing agreement with Dick Clark Productions, the company that produces the AMAs.
“The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists’ performances to stream post-show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms,” BMLG’s statement reads.
The deal will allow Swift, 29, to perform songs from her pre-2018 music catalogue along with cuts from her latest album, Lover (2019), which was released under Republic Records.
“This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances,” the label added in the statement. “It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media.”
The statement comes in response to the backlash BMLG received after the Me! singer claimed the company’s owners (Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun) had interfered with not only her plans to celebrate being crowned Artist of the Decade with an exclusive AMA performance but other recording projects she had lined up for the future.
In a lengthy Tumblr post, Swift initially alleged that BMLG “exercis tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
Taylor Swift‘s former record label, Big Machine Records (or BMLG), is defending itself after the pop icon claimed the label had blocked her from performing any of her old songs at the upcoming American Music Awards (AMAs).
In a lengthy Tumblr post shared on Thursday, Swift, 29, purported that BMLG had interfered with her future plans to re-record her old albums and release a Netflix documentary, blackmailed her, and ultimately “exercis tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
The label released a statement Friday morning denying Swift’s allegations.
“As Taylor Swift’s partner for over a decade, we were shocked to see her statements based on false information,” the statement read. “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.”
In June, it was revealed that Braun, 38, had purchased BMLG and partnered with Borchetta, 57. The result was that Braun became the owner to the rights of Swift’s entire music catalogue, excluding Lover (2019) — which was released through her current label, Republic Records.
“Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honour all of her requests to license her catalogue to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate,” BMLG wrote in Friday’s statement.
Swift officially parted ways with Borchetta and BMLG last November, after working with them for more than a decade.
“The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career,” the label wrote.
In her Tumblr post, Swift called upon fans to reach out to BMLG and tell Braun and Borchetta “how about this,” prompting an entire social media campaign (#IStandWithTaylor) that has already been backed by thousands of angered fans in less than 24 hours.
“Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families,” BMLG wrote.
“I have known Taylor for 13 years. She is the most dedicated, fearless, feisty, strongest woman I’ve ever known,” Gomez, 27, wrote in an Instagram story.
“People can say b***h, but what I’m saying to you is that it’s called a woman with true identity and strength who takes no s**t.”
Halsey chimed in writing, “Not only are we looking at an awful business move… but this is just mean. This is punishment. This is hoping to silence her from speaking about things by dangling this over her head.”
Some other tweets read:
One user tweeted: “When Taylor Swift performs The Man at the AMAs as she collects her artist of the decade award, I better see every single music industry exec and artist in the room give her the standing ovation.”
In her post, Swift revealed that she was hoping to perform a medley of songs from the last 10 years of her career, but that BMLG had intercepted those plans.
“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,” wrote the star.
If Swift follows through with her plans to re-record her first five albums — Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012) and 1989 (2014) — she will subsequently own the rights to them.
“My contract says that starting November 2020, I can record albums one through five all over again,” she said during a recent interview on Good Morning America.
On the supposedly upcoming Netflix documentary about her life, she said Braun and Borchetta declined the use of any of her old music or performances even though there is “no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
Furthermore, Swift suggested that she had been blackmailed by her former manager.
She wrote: “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 that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun.”
In its statement, BMLG asked Swift for an “honest conversation” to address the issues.
“Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation. When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side.”
They added: “To date, not one of the invitations to speak with us and work through this has been accepted. Rumours fester in the absence of communication. Let’s not have that continue here. We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”
Only a couple of hours later, on Friday, Nov. 15, an official statement responding to BMLG was provided to ET Canada by one of Swift’s representatives.
It reads: “The truth is, on October 28, 2019 at 5:17 p.m. the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group sent Taylor Swift’s team the following: ‘Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects: the Netflix documentary and the Alibaba ‘Double Eleven’ event.”
”To avoid an argument over rights, Taylor performed three songs off her new album Lover at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement,” added the representative.
The excerpt continues: In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post.”
Despite BMLG claiming that Swift owed them “millions of dollars,” the Blank Space singer’s rep wrote that the label owed her “$7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”
“Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them but, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor,” they wrote.
It’s currently unclear if Swift will still be present at the 2019 AMAs to accept the Artist of the Decade award.
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