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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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Selena Gomez Receives Praise and Backlash for Netflix Docuseries “Living Undocumented”

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  • Netflix released a trailer for its new docuseries executive produced by Selena Gomez titled “Living Undocumented,” which follows eight families as they work to gain legal status amid fears of deportation.
  • Some are praising the project for shining a light on immigration issues, while others fear the show will exploit the pain and trauma immigrants in the U.S. experience.
  • Others also criticized Gomez for only now stepping into the immigration conversation; however, Gomez has been vocal about some immigration issues in the past. 

Living Undocumented” Announced

Netflix released a trailer on Tuesday for its new docuseries Living Undocumented, which was met with both praise and criticism largely directed at its star executive producer Selena Gomez.

The docuseries, which is scheduled for an Oct. 2 release, follows eight different families who are struggling to gain legal status amid fears of deportation. 

“I knew I wasn’t born here,” a young girl says in the trailer. “I just didn’t know that not being born here was something that was dangerous. And I always have to do everything scared.” 

“That’s the dream, isn’t it?” a man says in Spanish. “To be able to say: we belong in this society.” 

In a statement about the project Gomez said, “I chose to produce this series, Living Undocumented, because over the past few years, the word immigrant has seemingly become a negative word.”

In a separate Instagram post, she added that the show will star real people facing issues that are more complex than one administration or law.

@SelenaGomez

Mixed Response Online

After watching the trailer and learning of Gomez’s involvement, many people online began praising the series.

“Just watched the previews for #livingundocumented and it brought tears to my eyes,” one Twitter user wrote. “My parents came to the us undocumented and I remembered what it felt like living in that fear. can’t wait to watch @selenagomez”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, others worried the show might exploit undocumented immigrants. Some also criticized Gomez, claiming she hasn’t done enough for the undocumented community.

“People want to claim their communities issues when those issues become monetary gain,” one person said. “Selena Gomez gets to make this one documentary and pretend to do any work for the undocumented community. She gets to make these people relive trauma and walk away with a Netflix check.”

Several concerns stemmed from the fact that Gomez herself was born in Texas, making her a legal citizen.

“The undocumented community has emphasized so much that we don’t like when people try to be the voice of the voiceless,” one person said. “She’s not undocumented and doesn’t fully understand that experience so when people try to speak for us it can come off inaccurately”

Other people who also said they are undocumented, however, supported Gomez and the show for shedding light on the issue by bringing the narrative to undocumented families.

“Why is it a problem when Selena helps?” one person tweeted. “It’s almost like you guys wait for her to breath to tell her she’s doing it wrong. I’m an undocumented [immigrant] and I am very happy she did this. Why aren’t you? She’s literally bringing more attention to it which we need. Be grateful sheeeeessh”

Others noted that she is using her platform to bring attention to undocumented families, who are the ones voicing their own stories in the show.

Gomez’s Previous Support for Immigrants

In June, Gomez criticized housing conditions for children at migrant detention facilities, a story which attracted widespread scrutiny.

“Kids in cages!” the singer said in an Instagram post. “Sleeping on concrete floors with aluminum blankets! No access to simple dignities! How is this still happening??? It’s absolutely inhumane to treat anyone like this let alone children. I can’t even imagine what they are going through. We need to get this to finally stop! Don’t stay silent on this human rights issue.”

Gomez then urged her fans to call their state representatives in D.C. 

In 2018, Gomez wrote a piece for Cristina Jiminez, who was being honored as one of Time’s Most Influential People that year. Jiminez came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant and later co-founding the immigration activist organization United We Dream.

As a nation of immigrants,” Gomez wrote, “the country is filled with those who believe in the American Dream: the ideal that everyone should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work and determination. Cristina Jiménez is the American Dream.”

Other Executive Producers

Gomez will join five other executive producers, including her mother, Mandy Teefey, and the show’s co-directors. 

One of those directors, Aaron Saidman, reiterated that the show is about the immigrants featured in it. 

“Living Undocumented is designed to illuminate one of the most important issues of our time,” he said. “But rather than discussing this issue with only statistics and policy debates, we wanted viewers to hear directly from the immigrants themselves, in their own words, with all the power and emotion that these stories reflect.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Elle) (Entertainment Weekly)

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SNL Drops Comedian Shane Gillis After Use of Slurs Resurface

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  • Saturday Night Live revoked Shane Gillis’ invitation to appear as a cast member following online blowback from Gillis’ use of racial and homophobic slurs.
  • In a statement, Gillis said he thought it was “ridiculous” to put out a serious statement but said he respected SNL’s decision then called himself a “mad tv guy.”
  • Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang expressed disappointment over Gillis’ comments but said he shouldn’t lose his job and offered to meet with Gillis, even after learning the comedian seemingly used racial slurs against him in a podcast. 

SNL Cuts Shane Gillis

Saturday Night Live rescinded an offer for Shane Gillis to join the sketch comedy show’s upcoming 45th season on Monday following backlash over resurfaced clips of the comedian using racist and homophobic slurs.

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a spokesperson for Lorne Michaels said in a statement. “We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL.”

“The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable,” the statement continues. “We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

The comedian was hired on Sep. 12, along with two other new series regulars, Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang. Gillis immediately attracted national attention when reports of slurs from his podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” surfaced online.

On Monday, Gillis also provided a statement via Twitter, saying he respects SNL’s decision while seemingly taking a jab at the show by calling himself a “mad tv guy.”

“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are,” he said. “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction.”

In his podcasts, Gillis uses a variety of slurs aimed at Asian individuals and gay men. Gillis also criticizes comedian Sarah Silverman for talking about women’s rights, criticizes comedians who discuss mental health, and uses caricatured racial accents. 

“Those guys are fucking gayer than ISIS. At least ISIS is out there, ‘We need to get the pussy. After we blow ourselves up, we get a bunch of pussy,” Gillis said in one podcast while using a faked Middle Eastern accent. “These white, fa***t comics they’re like, ‘I’m just sad life is hard and I’m gay.’”

In the same podcast, Gillis also said a Latino comic should go back to the Spanish-speaking TV station Univision. 

In a different podcast, Luis Gomez’s Real Ass Podcast, Gillis seemingly makes a slur against Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang about 46 minutes and 30 seconds into the recording. 

“Give me your next candidate, Dems. Jew ch**k, next,” Gillis said in the May podcast. “Actually, they are running a Jew ch**k.

Yang is not Jewish. 

Meeting With Andrew Yang

On Saturday, Yang posted a series of tweets regarding the situation and offered to meet with Gillis, saying he didn’t believe Gillis should lose his job.

“Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots,” Yang said. “But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like.”

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The offer apparently resonated with Gillis, because Monday, Yang posted another tweet, saying he will sit down with Gillis in the near future.

Reaction From Former SNL Cast and Host

Former SNL cast members and a former host also chimed in on the situation, with the responses among them mixed.

Sandra Oh, who hosted the show in March, praised the decision from SNL.

Rob Schneider, who was on the show in the 1990s, supported Gillis and said he “had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness.”

Schneider continued by saying he felt sad when he saw Gillis’ comments but suggested suspension as a more appropriate punishment.

On Lights Out with David Spade, Spade’s guests discussed SNL’s past history with racist skits, including John Belushi portraying a Samurai in the 1970s and Mike Myers playing a host on a Japanese game show skit where people cut off their fingers.

“I think, when I was younger on SNL,” Spade said, “when you get hired, the first move wasn’t to rifle through your past to make sure you get fired right away.”

See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC) (CNN)

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John Legend Says “No One” Will Benefit From Felicity Huffman’s Sentence

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  • Many people thought Felicity Huffman was handed a light sentence after she was given just 14 days in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal.
  • This prompted many to bring up cases where women of color were sentenced to more jail time for similar or arguably smaller crimes, like lying about their address to get their children into a better school district.
  • John Legend responded by saying that both Huffman and the women in the other cases should receive no jail time for what they did. He believes that prison is not the answer for every crime, but said the criminal justice system still turns to it too frequently.

Reactions to Huffman’s Sentence

Musician John Legend responded to criticisms of Felicity Huffman’s sentencing for her role in the sweeping college admissions scandal, arguing that “no one in our nation will benefit” from her serving prison time. 

On Friday, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison along with one year supervised release, 250 hours community service, and a fine of $30,000. Huffman paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT score boosted and pled guilty to guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Many thought that just 14 days behind bars was lenient and compared Huffman’s case to those of black women who were given more time for crimes they considered similar or even less severe. 

One case many turned to was that of Tanya McDowell, a Connecticut woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for lying about her address to get her son into a better school district. At the time, she was homeless and living out of her van, shelters, and an apartment she only had access to at night. 

Others pointed to a similar case with Kelley Williams-Bolar in Ohio. She used her father’s address to get her children into a better school district and was handed two concurrent five-year sentences that she was later able to reduce to 10 days. Williams-Bolar’s case was cited in Huffman’s sentencing. Prosecutors argued that if someone in her situation served time, there’s no reason that Huffman, who comes from a more privileged background, should not do the same.

Critics of Huffman’s sentence argued that there were similarities between what Huffman did and what these two mothers did, as they all had the goal of getting their child a better education.

Another case people compared it to was that of Crystal Mason. Mason was handed a five-year sentence after unknowingly voting illegally. She tried to fill out a provisional ballot in 2016, and at the time she was on supervised release for a federal felony. Mason was unaware that she could not vote until her release was over and was convicted of illegal voting. 

She is currently repealing her sentence and gave a statement to the Huffington Post regarding Huffman’s time. 

“I don’t wish this for anyone, but a sentence to 14 days for actual serious fraud just shows how unfair my sentence is,” she told them. “I’m hopeful the Justices will see that under the law, I shouldn’t have been convicted in the first place.”

John Legend Responds

Musician and criminal justice reform advocate John Legend responded to these varied reactions without ever mentioning Huffman’s name. Instead of arguing that Huffman’s sentence was too light, he said people like her and the others mentioned should serve no time at all. 

He mentioned cases like McDowell and Mason and called them “insane” and “unconscionable.”

“We don’t need to lock people up for any of this stuff,” Legend concluded in his thread. 

On Sunday, he furthered his argument by suggesting that there are other ways people can be held accountable for their actions. 

Legend was not alone in believing prison time was not the answer. The executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, David Singleton, who represented Williams-Bolar told the New York Times that putting the actress behind bars is not productive.

“When you are rich — and particularly if you’re rich and white in this country — there’s a different justice system,” he said. “Sending Felicity Huffman to jail is not going to solve that problem.”

Twitter users began to share what they found to be more productive ways for people like Huffman to right their wrongs. Some suggested she pay for the tuitions of McDowell’s children or contribute to scholarships.

See what others are saying: (Huffington Post) (USA Today) (The Atlantic)

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