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Music Industry Takes Sides After Scooter Braun Acquires Taylor Swift’s Masters

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  • Scooter Braun acquired Taylor Swift’s music catalog in a deal that Swift called “her worst case scenario.”
  • In a blog post, Swift said she did not learn of the purchase until the news broke Sunday morning and accused Braun of bullying her through artists he represents like Kanye West and Justin Bieber.
  • Celebrities like Halsey and Todrick Hall have taken Swift’s side and supported her for standing up for herself. 
  • While others, including Bieber, Demi Lovato, and Yael Cohen Braun, say Swift is attacking Braun without reason and is lying about her knowledge of the acquisition.

Prominent voices in the music industry are taking sides in a fued between Taylor Swift and music manager Scooter Braun after news broke that Braun now owns the pop stars’ masters.

On Sunday, it was announced that Braun’s Ithaca Holdings label would be acquiring Big Machine Label Group. Braun is the massive talent producer behind the likes of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. Big Machine, which is run by Scott Borchetta, holds the majority of Swift’s catalog.

The “Reputation” singer switched over to Universal Records at the end of 2018. Everything after that, which currently includes two singles and an upcoming album, is in her hands there. The six other albums she has fully released to date, however, still belong to Big Machine, and now to Braun. 

After the news of this sale, Swift penned a letter on Tumblr addressing Braun, as well as her decision to leave Big Machine. 

“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift opened. “Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, 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 added that she had only heard of the acquisition when it was announced to the public and said that Braun was behind “incessant, manipulative bullying” she had received for years. 

“Like 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,” she said in reference to an Instagram photo Justin Bieber once posted. 

Photo Via taylorswift.tumblr.com.

Swift goes on to include another instance where she felt targeted by Braun.

“Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. 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.” 

“This is my worst case scenario,” Swift continued. “This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.”

“When I left my masters in Scott’s hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them,” Swift said. “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. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”

She closes the letter by saying she is happy her future music will be in her own control, but she does not want other young artists to make the same mistake she did. 

People Speak Out in Swift’s Defense

Like almost everything Swift does, this letter blew up and divided people. Everyone and their mother has made a statement, including Selena Gomez’s mother.

According to some reports, artists like Beyonce, Harry Styles, Brendon Urie, Joe Jonas, Nicki Minaj, Selena Gomez, and Rihanna, have all unfollowed Braun on social media in support of Swift.

“Bad at Love” singer Halsey wrote a message taking Swift’s side. “She deserves to own the painstaking labor of her heart,” she wrote. 

Performer Todrick Hall, who is a close friend of Swift’s, also posted several tweets about the issue. “I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan,” Hall said. 

Model Martha Hunt, who made an appearance in Swift’s star-studded “Bad Blood” video also took the singer’s side.

The hashtag #WeStandWithTaylor began trending on Twitter. Several users used it to defend Swift and argued that she should be able to hold her masters. 

There is also a petition to allow the singer to re-release her old albums on her own. Reports say that it was signed by an account under the name “Katy Perry,” Swift’s long-term foe whom she recently made public amends with. 

Screenshot of Change.Org petition signature.

Artists Defend Scooter

Others, however, are siding with Braun. Bieber posted on Instagram apologizing for the photo that Swift referenced in her Tumblr letter and said Braun had nothing to do with it. 

“One thing i know is both scooter and i love you,” the “Sorry” singer added. “I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont 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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Hey Taylor. First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive.. I have to be honest though it was my caption and post that I screenshoted of scooter and Kanye that said “taylor swift what up” he didnt have anything to do with it and it wasnt even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that.. 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. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter. 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 online i dont 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. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line..

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Another one of Braun’s clients, singer Demi Lovato, wrote in his defense on her Instagram story.

“I have dealt with bad people in this industry and Scooter is not one of them,” the former Disney darling wrote. “He’s a good man. Personally, I’m grateful he came into my life when he did. Please stop “dragging” people or bullying them. There’s enough hate in this world as it is.” 

Yael Cohen Braun, Scooter Braun’s wife, also posted a lengthy Instagram post addressing the matter. 

“You were given the opportunity to own your masters, you passed. Interesting that the man you’re so ‘grossed out’ by believed in you more than you believe in yourself,” she wrote. 

Cohen Braun claimed that despite what Swift said in her letter, the singer had already learned about the acquisition. 

“Your dad is a shareholder and was notified,” she said. “And Borchetta personally told you before this came out. So no, you didn’t find out with the world.”

She also called out Swift’s bullying claims, and said her husband is “anything but a bully.”

“Beyond that it’s easy to see that the point of putting this out was to get people to bully him,” Cohen Braun wrote, flipping the conversation and accusing Swift of being mean-spirited. “You are supposed to be a role model, but continue to model bullying.”

“He’s a manger, not God. He cannot control the actions of other humans, even ones he manages,” she added. “What you haven’t seen is what happens behind closed doors, when he has supported and stood up for you.”

Scott Borchetta Responds

On Sunday night, Borchetta addressed the situation himself. He wrote a letter on Big Machine’s site where he also said Swift should have been in-the-know prior to the news breaking. 

He said that her father, Scott Swift, was invited to a shareholders call on June 25, where the purchase was announced. He also claimed that he sent Swift a text on Saturday night. 

“I guess it might somehow be possible that her dad Scott, 13 Management lawyer Jay Schaudies (who represented Scott Swift on the shareholder calls) or 13 Management executive and Big Machine LLC shareholder Frank Bell (who was on the shareholder calls) didn’t say anything to Taylor over the prior 5 days,” he wrote. “I guess it’s possible that she might not have seen my text.  But, I truly doubt that she “woke up to the news when everyone else did”. 

He also said that before the songstress moved onto Universal Records, the deal he was working on with her at Big Machine would have involved her owning her masters. 

“100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement,” he said. 

He also included a photo of part of that contract. 

Source: Big Machine.

Representatives for Swift have denied that both she and her father knew about the deal ahead of time. 

“On June 25, there was a shareholder phone call that Scott Swift did not participate in due to a very strict NDA that bound all shareholders and prohibited any discussion at all without risk of severe penalty,” a spokesperson for the singer told People Magazine

“Her dad did not join that call because he did not want to be required to withhold any information from his own daughter. Taylor found out from the news articles when she woke up before seeing any text from Scott Borchetta and he did not call her in advance.” 

Singer Iggy Azalea also tweeted about the logistics of sales like these, saying even if Swift and her father knew in the days leading up, they probably did not get a say in whether or not it happened.

See what others are saying: (People) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Billboard)

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Paris Hilton Recalls “Cruel” David Letterman Interview: “It Was Like He Was Just Purposefully Trying To Humiliate Me”

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  • Footage of David Letterman’s 2007 interview with Paris Hilton resurfaced last month, showing him repeatedly pressing Hilton about her time in jail.
  • Despite Hilton’s visible discomfort and repeated attempts to avoid the topic, Letterman continued to ask about it for six minutes of the eight-minute-long segment.
  • Hilton addressed the clip on Monday during her “This is Paris” podcast, noting that Letterman’s team had promised he would not bring the subject up at the time.
  • “It was like he was just purposefully trying to humiliate me,” she said. “I thought he would keep his word on this and I was wrong…he just kept pushing me and pushing me and I was just getting uncomfortable and I was so upset.”

Letterman Interview Goes Viral

Paris Hilton called a 2007 interview she did with talk show host David Letterman “cruel” on Monday’s episode of her podcast “This is Paris.”

The clip started going viral in February as the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary prompted many to look at the culture of misogyny that dominated media in the 2000s. Many began to see the careers of young starlets of that era in a new light, including Spears, Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and more. Some started sharing old footage of these stars being mistreated or berated by prominent media figures. 

In this 2007 clip, Letterman repeatedly asks Hilton about her time in jail even though Hilton asks to change the subject multiple times. Still, he spends over six of the eight minute segment hounding her about her experience. 

How’d you like being in jail?” He asked her almost immediately. “God that was just a horrible thing, wasn’t that horrible?

Hilton persistently asked to talk about her upcoming movie and fragrance, which she was on the show to promote in the first place. Letterman instead had her detail the meals she ate, asked if she made friends in jail, and pressed on several other aspects of her sentencing. 

“I’ve moved on with my life. So I don’t really want to talk about it anymore,” Hilton said at one point. 

“Well I appreciate that, but this is where you and I are different,” Letterman responded. “This is all I want to talk about.” 

He then insisted that she might be able to serve as some kind of warning and example for other young people. 

“Do you get correspondence like that from kids and teachers and clergymen and stuff?” he asked.

I’m going on to the next question. I’m over it,” Hilton replied. 

Letterman then told her that “in all seriousness now, this could be your legacy.

He continued to bring the subject up for another minute until Hilton told him she was starting to regret appearing on the show.

“Now you’re making me sad that I came here because you’re hurting my feelings,” she said. 

Hilton Recounts “Cruel” Interview

The clip generated a lot of outrage from people who were upset that Letterman was hounding a young woman who had just gone through a rough time. Others took issue with the fact that he blatantly refused her requests to change the subject. Now, Hilton has shared her own thoughts on the expereince.

The heiress said that she only agreed to sit down for the interview because her PR team worked out a deal with the show to make her stint in jail an off-limits topic. 

“I felt like it was a safe place because I had been going on Letterman for so many years and, you know, he would always have fun with me and joke around but, you know, I thought he would keep his word on this,” she said on her podcast. “And I was wrong.” 

“So there was not supposed to be one question and then he just kept pushing me and pushing me and I was just getting uncomfortable and I was so upset,” she continued. 

Hilton said that after the interview was done, she walked off stage to her sister with tears in her eyes. 

“It was like he was just purposefully trying to humiliate me,” Hilton explained. “And during commercial breaks I would be like, ‘please stop doing this, like you promised me you wouldn’t talk about this. That’s the only reason I came on this show. Please don’t bring it up again.’ He’s like ‘okay’ and then [he would] again.” 

“It was just very cruel and very mean,” she said.

Hilton explained that after the interview, she told Letterman she would never return to his show because he had “crossed a line” with her. She said the host ended up sending her wine, letters, and continuously apologized until she agreed to go on his show again to promote another fragrance. Hilton said her next appearance on the show was far more pleasant. 

She also said she is glad that the world is a more understanding place when it comes to topics like mental health, the MeToo and Times Up movements, and other subjects, meaning something like this would likely not happen again.

“I’m so happy that it’s different today,” she said. “Just for people who are coming up in the industry, who are new to this. You know, I wouldn’t wish what happened to me upon anyone, not even my worst enemy.”

See what others are saying: (USA Today) (The Independent) (Paper Magazine)

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Taylor Swift Slams “Ginny & Georgia” for “Deeply Sexist” Joke About Her

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  • Netflix’s new series “Ginny & Georgia” is facing criticism for featuring a joke about Taylor Swift’s dating history.
  • “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift,” a character in the show said, which the singer’s fans have denounced as a misogynistic remark. 
  • For many, the joke is especially frustrating because Swift has long been critical of this narrative and sexism in general in several interviews, songs, and even her own Netflix documentary: “Miss Americana.” 
  • “2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” Swift tweeted Monday, adding, “Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you 💔 Happy Women’s History Month I guess.”

“Ginny & Georgia” Sparks Outrage

Singer Taylor Swift criticized Netflix’s new series “Ginny & Georgia” on Monday for including a “deeply sexist” joke about her dating history.

In one episode of the show, which debuted last week, the character Georgia asks her daughter Ginny if she has broken up with her boyfriend.

What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift,” Ginny replies.

After seeing this, were quick to defend the singer, slamming the remark as misogynistic and causing the phrase “RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT” to start trending Sunday.

It even prompted fans to point to a 2017 episode of” Degrassi: Next Class,” which is also co-produced by Netflix, along with other companies.

In that episode, a character says, “Taylor Swift made an entire career off of her exes.”

“RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT” Becomes Trending Topic

For many fans, these types of jokes are especially frustrating because Swift has long been critical of this narrative and sexism in general.

She’s addressed it in several interviews, songs, and even her own Netflix documentary: “Miss Americana.” Some online even pointed out that Swift trusted Netflix with that documentary as well as the concert film for her Reputation tour.

Swift took to Twitter Monday to address the joke herself.

“Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” she wrote.

“How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse shit as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you 💔 Happy Women’s History Month I guess”

Now, many are calling on Netflix and the series to apologize. Others are pointing to other stars who are often shamed for their dating history in the media, including Ariana Grande and Lori Harvey.

See what others are saying: (Cosmopolitan) (CNN) (PEOPLE)

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Netflix To Invest $100 Million in Diversity Initiative

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  • Netflix will invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity both in front of and behind the camera. 
  • This comes after the streaming service released a report on diversity in its original programming, which found that the company made strides for women and Black characters on screen but lacked in other areas.
  • For both film and television, Latino characters only made between 1.7% and 5% of lead roles and main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population.
  • The report also found that just 2% of speaking roles in film and 3.3% of speaking roles in series were for LGBTQ characters.

Netflix Invests in Diversity

Netflix announced plans on Friday to invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity in all areas of production.

Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, wrote in a blog post explaining that this fund will invest in company programs aimed at identifying, training, and providing job opportunities for-up-and coming talent in the industry. It will invest in numerous organizations with “a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the TV and film industries.

This comes as the streaming giant just released a massive report on its own diversity, done by Dr. Stacy Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The study analyzed 180 scripted series and 126 films Netflix released in 2018 and 2019 to find where the studio has succeeded and where it needs to break ground. 

Dr. Smith said a report of this nature is both unique and historic. 

“At the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we’re not aware of any other company taking a leadership role and making their findings as transparent and rolling out those results to all the communities,” she claimed in a video explaining the results of her research. 

“Given the size and scope of Netflix content, particularly as it relates to its entertainment industry peers, the results show one thing very clear — Netflix is committed to inclusion across its content portfolio,” she continued. 

Findings of the Report

Among the more positive findings, the report said that Netflix programs reflect gender equality when it comes to main roles, with 48% of films and 54% of shows having women leads or co-leads. It also found that 19% of lead roles went to male and female characters with unrepresented backgrounds, which is more than the industry at large did in the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019.  

When it comes to behind-the-camera film roles for women, Netflix is also outpacing the progress the industry is making overall. The company hired women to direct 23% of its movies, compared to just 7.6% of women who directed the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019. Netflix also employed female writers and producers at a significantly higher rate. 

The report found that the more women were working behind the camera, the more women wound up in front of it as well. 

“Inclusion happens when women are given the keys to the kingdom,” Dr. Smith said in a video explaining the results of her research. 

Still, there were many strides Netflix has yet to make when it comes to representation. While it did hire women of color to direct its films at three times the rate the industry in general did, they still only totaled just over 6% of directors for the studio. When it came to women of color directing television, Netflix fell behind industry-wide statistics. 

The report found that 15% of leads and co-leads were Black characters and almost 20% of main casts were Black, which is on par for the U.S. population. However, when it comes to other underrepresented groups, the studio lacked. 

For both film and television, Latino characters only made up between 1.7% and 5% of leads or main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population. Additionally, the report noted that when it came to series, just 3% of creators and producers and 2% of writers and directors were Latino. For film, the studio employed just one Latino writer and director and only five producers. 

LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities were likewise underrepresented. Just 2% of speaking roles for film and 3.3% of speaking roles for TV went to characters that identified as LGBTQ. 

Less than 2% of speaking film characters and 2.4% of speaking television characters had disabilities, compared to 27% of the American population identifying as having some sort of disability. 

What Netflix Will Do Next

Netflix plans to take this data and build upon its findings. 

“Great stories can truly come from anywhere, be created by anyone, whatever their background, and be loved everywhere,” Sarandos wrote. “And by better understanding how we are doing, we hope to stimulate change not just at Netflix but across our industry more broadly.”

During a virtual symposium, leaders at Netflix discussed the research and why it is important to the industry and the company. 

“Part of young boys and girls seeing themselves, seeing who they are in those roles and making sure that we don’t have ‘Black Panther’ once a decade, that we have films where young people of color, young women can see themselves as heroes in active roles,” Netflix’s Vice President of Global film, Scott Stuber said. 

He added that the new Netflix film “Jingle Jangle” starring Kegan Michael Key and Forest Whitaker was just one recent example of diversity on screen making a difference. 

“The outpouring from the Black community, having a holiday film that represented them and their families, was an incredible thing for our filmmaker and for our company. And I think we have to continue to think in those terms.”

Sarandos says Netflix is committed to its work with Dr. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The two will work together to release a report every two years between now and 2026. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (New York Times)

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