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Big Machine Records Denies Taylor Swift’s Claims of Blocking Music Use

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  • Taylor Swift claimed Thursday that her former label Big Machine Records and its executives, Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, are preventing her from performing her old songs at the upcoming American Music Awards.
  • She also says they are blocking her from using the songs in her Netflix documentary. 
  • Big Machine denied those claims and said Swift owes them millions.
  • Swift’s team hit back, citing an email from Big Machine denying music use and saying it is actually the label that owes her millions for unpaid royalties. 

Swift’s Feud With Big Machine Escalates

Taylor Swift’s former record label is denying the bombshell accusations she made against them Thursday, saying they are preventing her from performing and using her own songs.

Swift posted a lengthy statement about the situation online where she claimed that her former label – Big Machine Records- was preventing her from performing a medley of her hits at the upcoming American Music Awards, where she is set to be honored with the Artist of the Decade Award. 

According to Swift, the label argued that performing her songs on television would constitute re-recording her music before she is legally allowed to in November 2020. 

The singer also added that Netflix has been creating a documentary about her life, but has not been granted permission to user her older music or performance footage for the project. 

She said that Big Machine Lable Group’s CEO Scott Borchetta will only allow her to use the music if she agrees to two conditions: If she agrees to not re-record copycat versions of her old songs next year and if she agrees to stop talking about Borchetta and his business partner Scooter Braun.

“The message being sent to be is very clear,” Swift wrote. “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

This is not the first time Swift spoke out against Big Machine Lable Group, which was founded by Borchetta and recently acquired by Braun. In June, the singer expressed frustration after learning that her former label had sold to Scooter for $300 million, which meant that he would own all of her master recordings “in perpetuity.”  

She called the news her “worst nightmare” and claimed that Scooter had “incessantly bullied and manipulated” her for years.

After that news, Swift revealed that she plans to re-record her old music when she is legally allowed to do so. 

Thursday’s accusations mark the latest escalation in the feud between her and Big Machine execs. At the end of her recent statement, she encouraged others who might be frustrated by the news to let Borchetta and Braun know how they feel.

She also asks people to reach out to artists that are signed with Braun’s management agency who might be able to “ talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.” 

Support for Swift

As of Friday morning, none of Braun’s clients, which include superstars like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Demi Lovato, have commented on the situation. 

However, dozens of other big-name celebs have shown Swift public support. 

Swift’s longtime friend Selena Gomez released a lengthy statement saying felt “sick” over the situation. “You’ve robbed and crushed one of our best song writers of our time an opportunity to celebrate all of her music with fans and the world,” she added.

@SelenaGomez

Singer Halsey also joined in with a message on her Instagram story saying, “This is punishment. This is hoping to silence her from speaking about things by dangling this over her head.” She then went on to post a video of her singing Taylor Swifts song “Mean.”

@iamhalsey

Other statements of support were posted by Stars like model Gigi Hadid, singers Lily Allen, Tinashe, Sara Bareilles, and others. 

Joseph Kahn, who directed Swift videos like “Bad Blood” and “Look What You Made Me Do” called Braun and Borchetta “assholes.” 

He added, “How do they live with themselves?”

Meanwhile, music producer Joel Little, who produced several tracks for Swift including “ME!” and “You Need To Calm Down,“ said the situation was “unbelievable and completely messed up.” 

Big Machine Records Responds 

After a night of backlash, Big Machine issued a statement saying they were “shocked” to see her statement which was “based on false information.” 

“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. Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.”

“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 statement claimed. 

“We have worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward. We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. However, despite our persistent efforts to find a private and mutually satisfactory solution, 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.

The statement went on to say that Swift created a narrative that “does not exist.” The label also says Swift and her team have not accepted their invitations to speak and blame the “rumors” on a lack of communication. 

Statements from Swifts Team 

After the label’s response, a spokesperson for Swift issues a statement to Rolling Stone, citing an October 28th e-mail from the vice president of rights management and business affairs and Big Machine.  

The letter reportedly said “BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with” two projects. Those projects were the Netflix documentary and a recent performance tied to a sales event hosted by the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group.

At the Alibaba event, Swift instead performed three songs from “Lover” after “it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement,” the rep said.   

The rep added that Borchetta himself “flatly denied” the waiver request for both the AMAs and Netflix on Thursday, the same day Swift went public. “Please notice in Big Machine’s statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post,” the spokesperson added.

Her team also called the claims that Swift owes million to them inaccurate. “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 $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years.”

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Variety) (Rolling Stone)

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M&M Announces “Progressive” Rebrand. Internet Asks: “Why?”

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The company hopes its characters will “reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in.” 


M&M Revamps Candy Characters

The green M&M — the femme fatale of the candy world — is swapping her tall white gogo boots for a pair of classic sneakers as part of Mars’ new effort to make the brand more “inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.” The change sparked a swell of backlash online from those who think the plain Jane facelift is unnecessary. 

“M&M’S has been around for more than 80 years and this year the brand continues to evolve to reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

“The refreshed M&M’S brand will include a more modern take on the looks of our beloved characters, as well as more nuanced personalities to underscore the importance of self-expression and power of community through storytelling,” the statement continued.

The company said it hopes for fans to notice an “added emphasis on the ampersand to more prominently demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together.”

What fans noticed, however, was the fact that the green M&M is no longer, well, sexy. Formerly known as Ms. Green, her prefix was dropped and her poses are less flirty. The same happened with Brown, also a female, who had her footwear changed to lower her heel. The company wants the two to represent a “force supporting women.”

In character bios on M&M’s website, Green described herself as a “hypewoman” who wants to “see more women in leading roles.” Brown says she is “Not bossy. Just the boss.”

The other characters are getting new styles as well. Red, the macho leader, is going to become more friendly and collaborative. Orange is getting to lean into his high anxiety, admitting in his profile that he can’t leave the house without “panicking.”

Twitter Mocks Rebrand

But it turns out, many people were seemingly happy with the gender-normed M&M characters just as they were. Rolling Stone put out a piece asking that Mars “let the green M&M be a nasty little slut.” The Guardian accused the company of “slut-shaming” the iconic candy cartoon.

On Twitter, the redesign was met with even more criticism. 

“I will REFUSE to buy m&m’s until they make the green one SEXY again,” one person tweeted.

“They told green m&m she couldn’t go to euphoria high school anymore,” another person wrote. 

“Finally an M&M with mental health struggles,” someone joked about Orange. 

Others mocked it as an overall small and meaningless gesture of equality from a large corporation. 

“Who needs equitable pay, healthcare, voting rights?” One person tweeted. “That stuff is for chumps. What we need is Woke M&Ms to carry us through these tough times.” 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CBS News) (The Independent)

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Jay-Z, Other Artists, Sign Letter Supporting N.Y. Bill to Block Use of Rap Lyrics in Court

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The legislation aims to “protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors.”


New York Senators Introduce “Rap Music On Trial” Bill

Jay-Z and a slew of other rappers and artists signed a letter this week in support of a New York law that would prevent rap lyrics from being used as evidence in court. 

The bill, titled Rap Music on Trial, was introduced in November by state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-Queens). Rap Music on Trial aims to “enhance the free speech protections of New Yorkers by banning the use of art created by a defendant as evidence against them in a courtroom.”

“The legislation will protect all artists and content creators, including rappers from having their lyrics wielded against them by prosecutors,” a statement released by the senators said. 

If the law were passed, in order to submit lyrics and other creative works as evidence, prosecutors would need to present “clear and convincing proof that there is a literal, factual nexus between creative expression and the facts of the case.”

Hoylman, Bailey, rappers, and many other advocates believe that rap lyrics are often used unfairly in court.

“The use of rap and hip-hop lyrics in particular is emblematic of the systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system,” Bailey explained in a statement.

Major Artists Sign Letter Backing Legislation

The letter signed by Jay-Z echoed those concerns. It was written by his lawyer, Alex Spiro, and University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson. Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, and Robin Thicke were among the other artists who put their names behind the cause. 

“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry,” the letter said. 

According to Spiro and Nielson, using rap lyrics allows prosecutors to “obtain convictions even when other evidence is lacking.” They also argued the strategy specifically harms young Black and Latino men, who are “the overwhelming majority of artists in these cases.”

Several high-profile artists have experienced this practice themselves. In their joint statement, Hoylman and Bailey pointed to a 2019 case where Tekashi69’s lyrics were introduced in court to compel him to become a government witness to avoid harsher sentencing. 

Per a report from Rolling Stone, the late Drakeo the Ruler was subjected to something similar while on trial for a 2016 murder case. Before he was acquitted of the crime, prosecutors attempted to use lyrics from his song “Flex Freestyle” in an effort to make jurors think he brought a group of armed people to a party to target the victim.

In the letter, Spiro and Nielson pointed to research that “identified hundreds of cases” where rap lyrics were exploited in court, noting that the genre has the “potential to be highly prejudicial.”

In one study they cited, two groups were given identical violent lyrics, but one group was told those lyrics came from a country song, and the other was told it was rap. Members of the group who believed the lyrics were rap “were significantly more likely to view them as threatening and in need of regulation” than members of those who thought the words came from a country song. 

“Nobody thinks Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, or that David Byrne is a psycho killer, but routinely rappers have their lyrics used against them in criminal trials,” Hoylman said in a November tweet. 

“As these and other studies suggest, weaponizing rap music against its creators is racially and culturally discriminatory,” the letter concluded. “It is also an affront to the First Amendment protections that everyone in this country should be entitled to.” 

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Billboard) (The Gaurdian)

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Britney Spears Sends Cease and Desist to Jamie Lynn Over Book Tour

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Britney’s lawyer claimed that Jamie Lynn’s “ill-timed book” contains “misleading or outrageous claims” about the singer.


Britney Spears Slaps Sister With Cease and Desist

Britney Spears sent a cease and desist letter this week demanding her sister, Jamie Lynn, stop “referencing Britney derogatorily during” her book tour.

The two sisters have been embroiled in a heated war of words over the last week, largely prompted by Jamie Lynn’s new memoir, “Things I Should Have Said.” In the book and during its accompanying press tour, Jamie Lynn has discussed a variety of issues, including Britney’s controversial conservatorship, their father’s struggles with alcoholism, and what it was like to be raised in her older sister’s shadow. 

“We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her,” Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Variety. “Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain. She will not tolerate it, nor should she.”

The Spears family has been the subject of international headlines over the last year as the legal battle to free the “Toxic” singer from her 13-year conservatorship took off. Britney has been vocal about the fact that she felt largely abandoned by her family while she was in the conservatorship, claiming they did nothing to help her. A Los Angeles judge officially terminated the arrangement in November, giving the pop star newfound control over her life. 

“Having endured a 13-year conservatorship that stripped her of civil rights and fundamental liberties, Britney will no longer be bullied by her father or anyone else,” the letter continued. “Britney was the family’s breadwinner and she also otherwise supported you. Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory.”

Spears Sisters Duke it Out on Social Media

During the press tour, Jamie Lynn has conducted interviews aired on “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and the “Call Her Daddy” podcast with Alex Cooper. Britney has taken issue with several stories Jamie Lynn told, including one where she claims Britney locked them inside a room together with a knife because she was “scared.”

“I’ve never been around you ever with a knife or would I ever even think to do such,” Britney wrote in one Twitter post denying the story.

“Hope your book does well, Jamie Lynn !!!!” the singer wrote in another post. “My family ruined my dreams 100 billion percent and try to make me look like the crazy one.”

Jamie Lynn has defended her choice to write the memoir, arguing that she is “speaking my truth to heal my traumas.” 

“I hate to burst my sister’s bubble, but my book is not about her,” she wrote. “I can’t help that I was born a Spears too, and that some of my experiences involve my sister.

Rosengart mentioned this statement in the cease and desist letter. 

“You recently reportedly stated that the book was ‘not about her.’ [Britney] takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign,” he wrote. “If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (USA Today) (Rolling Stone)

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