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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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Fans Defend Billie Eilish From Body Shamers After Paparazzi Photo Goes Viral

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  • Billie Eilish was recently photographed wearing a tight tank top and jogger shorts, a departure from the usual baggy clothes she wears in an active effort to prevent people from commenting on her body.
  • However, tabloids quickly spread this photo around and people ended up body shaming her on Twitter. 
  • Fans came to her defense, saying people should not critique anyone’s body or hold them to unrealistic standards. Some also pointed out that the world in general needs to normalize the fact that most people do not look like models.
  • Billie posted a TikTok on her Instagram expressing a similar point of view. The TikTok was made by Chizi Duru, who said: “Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies…Guts are normal…Instagram isn’t real.” 

Billie Eilish Gets Body Shamed

Billie Eilish fans are calling out body shamers who made comments about the singer after she was photographed wearing non-baggy clothing.

Eilish was essentially wearing the unofficial outfit of quarantine, a fitted tan tank top and comfy jogger shorts, while out and about in Los Angeles on Sunday.

While most people get away with wearing something like that every day, the young Grammy winner was met with a tabloid frenzy. Eilish has become known for wearing baggy clothes and has even said she wears looser outfits intentionally to prevent people from making unprovoked comments about her body.

Photos of her in the relaxed attire went viral and made headlines, with gossip magazines quick to gawk at the pictures. Body shamers soon followed with their remarks. One Twitter user said she had a “mid-30s wine mom body.”

Fans Slam Body Shamers

Elish’s fans quickly ran to her defense, slamming those who body shamed the 18-year-old. 

“There is nothing greater in this world than billie eilish being confident in her body,” one Twitter user wrote. 

“To anyone who is body shaming Billie Eilish please stop putting unrealistic beauty standards on women,” another fan said. “She doesn’t deserve that and no one else deserves that either.”

Many also pointed out the fact that offensive and uncalled for comments like that are what stop the young singer from usually wearing fitted clothing. 

Others called out tabloids for making a big story out of her wearing a normal casual outfit to begin with. 

Billie Eilish Responds Responds

Eilish eventually issued an indirect response on her Instagram Story Tuesday night by sharing a TikTok from influencer Chizi Duru.  

“Y’all gotta start normalizing real bodies, okay. Not everyone has a wagon behind them, okay,” Duru says in the video. “Guts are normal. They’re normal. Boobs sag, especially after breastfeeding. Instagram isn’t real.” 

Eilish also posted a video of her walking past her Grammy awards, which many thought was a subtle clapback to body shamers.

This is not the first time she has addressed body shaming and other remarks made around her appearance and wardrobe. During some of her concerts, Eilish has played a short video where she recites a spoken word poem about her experiences with her body image and the media. 

“Some people hate what I wear. Some people praise it,” she says in the video. “Some people use it to shame others. Some people use it to shame me.” 

“The body I was born with is it not what you wanted? If I wear what is comfortable I am not a woman,” she continues. “If I shed the layers I’m a slut. Though you’ve never seen my body, you still judge it and judge me for it. Why?” 

Some also shared this video as a reminder that body-shaming Eilish or anyone else is not okay. Her fans specifically pointed out that Eilish has been dealing with these kinds of issues for a long time and should not be subject to these repeated attacks. 

See what others are saying: (Cosmopolitan) (Uproxx) (Glamour)

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BTS Faces Backlash in China Over RM’s Korean War Comments

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  • Kim Nam-Joon, the head of the K-pop group BTS who is better known as RM, made comments during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala that prompted a boycott against the band in China.
  • Kim emphasized the role both the U.S. and South Korea played in the Korean War, saying, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”
  • Chinese fans said the comments were insensitive and didn’t acknowledge the 200,000 Chinese who died fighting against South Korea during the war.
  • Companies like Samsung and Hyundai have distanced themselves from the group in China, removing them from branding.

What Was Said?

The K-pop sensation BTS has found themselves facing boycott calls in China after group leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made what Chinese fans are calling insensitive comments.

The remarks causing outrage were made during the Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala earlier this month while the band was accepting the Van Fleet award.

“We are very honored to receive the Van Fleet Award, presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of the relationships between Korea and the United States,” RM said at the ceremony.

“The Korea Society’s 2020 Annual Gala is especially meaningful, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War,” he continued before adding, “We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women.”

Backlash and Boycott Calls Emerge

It may be unclear to Western audiences why those remarks were viewed as so inflammatory. The Korea Society is a U.S.-based non-profit that promotes the relationship between South Korea and the U.S., so it’s not surprising that BTS would make a comment like that given the event.

However, on Sunday, the clip went viral and reached #3 trending on Weibo, a Chinese website similar to Twitter, where people were clearly upset. The issue, in particular, was the fact that 200,000 Chinese “volunteers” died fighting for North Korea during the war.

Users on the platform wrote things like, “Nearly 200,000 Chinese troops died in the war. Every Chinese person must remember this number.”

Meanwhile, others equated being a fan of BTS to betraying one’s Chinese nationality. “If you still fan them, get out and change your nationality! There is nothing wrong with liking Korean idols, but if your idols insult your country, if you continue to fan, then you are not worthy of being a Chinese!” One user wrote on Weibo.

Many users wanted BTS to consider Chinese losses during the war, despite the fact that China fought against South Korea and saved its long-time nemesis North Korea during the conflict, directly leading to the 70-year cease-fire and today’s current political climate in the region.

On top of this, Chinese fans were critical of BTS seemingly playing favorites with Americans, with one writing, “Chinese fans give you so much money each year, and you turn around and give it to the United States. What are Chinese fans then?”

Most notably, there were call for boycotts. One user asked, “when will NetEase Cloud Music will remove the song of the anti-Chinese boy group BTS?”

State-run papers also waded into the drama. The hyper-nationalistic Global Times the headline: “BTS hurts feelings of Chinese netizens and fans during speech on the Korean War.” That same piece played up the controversy by calling RM’s comments “a one-sided attitude.”

Korean Companies Step back

The backlash was so large that Korean companies began to distance themselves from the group. Companies like Samsung pulled a BTS-branded smartphone and earbuds from its stores and Chinese website, while Hyundai Motor also removed any BTS branding from its Chinese ads.

The BTS-branded Samsung products that are no unavailable in China.

Together those companies make up around 22% of South Korea’s GDP.

In the past U.S.-Korea relations have led to a major backlash with China, like in 2017 when the U.S. and Korea agreed to put THAAD missiles in Korea. The backlash led to an economic downturn in Korea after China started boycotting and banning certain activities with Korea. Tensions eventually cooled and economic trade returned to normal.

It’s unclear if the Chinese government will officially respond in a similar manner to the 2017 THAAD controversy. When asked about the new controversy on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian only said, “I have noted relevant reports as well as the reactions from the Chinese people online. I want to say that we all should learn lessons from history and look forward to the future, hold dear peace and strengthen friendship.”

Experts like John Delury, a Chinese studies professor at Yonsei University – one of the major universities in Korea, told The Washington Post that the Global Times seems to have had a role in whipping up anger.

Even if that was the case, the controversy has already had a real-world impact since removing BTS branding in China will likely hurt the band’s image in that market.

See What Others Are Saying: (BBC) (Yonhap News) (South China Morning Post)

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Disney Prioritizes Streaming as Theater Industry Falls Further Behind

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  • Disney announced major restructuring plans Monday aimed at prioritizing streaming, a major move to come from one of the most powerful studios in the entertainment industry.
  • Under its new structure, Disney will form a whole new arm called Media and Entertainment Distribution Organization, which will be responsible for distribution and ad sales as well as overseeing the company’s streaming services.
  • CEO Bob Chapek says this is in line with how consumers want to take in content. While many see it as a knee-jerk reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, he said the decision was actually more of an effort to move towards the future of content viewing.
  • Regardless of the reasons behind it, Disney’s move towards streaming is a blow to theaters, which are already suffering during the pandemic. Early Tuesday, AMC predicted it could be out of money by the year’s end as studios continually choose to push back their movie release dates, or release them through VOD or streaming platforms.

Disney Prioritizes Streaming

Disney announced major restructuring plans Monday aimed at prioritizing distribution and content creation for its streaming platforms. 

The company is forming a new Media and Entertainment Distribution Organization, which will be responsible for distribution and ad sales as well as overseeing the company’s streaming services. On the content creation side, responsibilities for funneling programming to distribution will fall on three divisions at Disney.

Studios will focus on branded theatrical and episodic content based on franchises for theatrical exhibition and streaming services like Disney+; general entertainment will work on episodic and original long-form content for streaming, cable, and broadcast; and sports will focus on live sports and other related content.

The Media and Entertainment Distribution Organization will be headed up by Kareem Daniel, who has been working at the mouse house. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said this new strategy will support its plans to accelerate its direct-to-consumer business. 

“Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it,” he said in a press release. 

This is a huge announcement to come from one of the leading box office giants. Putting streaming ahead of movie theaters is a grave sign for theaters, which are already severely struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. However, while speaking to CNBC, Chapek claimed that COVID-19 complications were not the driving force in this decision, consumer preferences were. 

“Right now, [consumers] are voting with their pocketbooks and they’re voting very heavily towards Disney+. What we want to do is make sure we’re going to go the way that consumers want us to go,” Chapek explained.

“As you mentioned, COVID-19 impacted all of our traditional distribution businesses, but this is even more than reactionary, this is really progressive, this is looking out with a vision towards where we see the world going and to where we see consumers interacting with Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu and where it’s going to go in the future.” 

Chapek believes this strategy allows Disney to make more objective decisions when it comes to distribution, as opposed to seeing content as predetermined to either land in theaters, on a network, or elsewhere. 

Streaming Becomes Dominant

Disney is also not the first major studio to recently shift to prioritizing streaming. Back in August, WarnerMedia announced a huge management shakeup as well as the departure of top executives all in an effort to put their streaming service, HBOMax, first. 

Movie theaters are not exactly pleased with moves like this since they are banking on studios for new content so they can stay alive through the pandemic. But studios have constantly been either delaying films far down their release calendars, or opting to release them through VOD or streaming, something that those in the theater industry have been vocally against.

Disney recently faced backlash from The International Union of Cinemas after announcing that one of its biggest ticket pictures, the new Pixar film “Soul” would be going directly to Disney+. 

“The decision on Soul is doubly frustrating for operators who were counting on the release after the film was previewed at a number of key European film festivals,” the union wrote in a statement. 

“Decisions to postpone titles, to bypass cinemas and the value they create are extremely disappointing – and concerning – and will only delay the day that the whole industry is able to put this crisis behind it,” the union continued.

“It is not only cinemas and audiences who are missing out – this situation must surely also be deeply frustrating for the creators and talents who want to see their films on the Big Screen.”

Issues for Movie Theaters

The fight theaters are being forced to confront cannot be understated. The pandemic is making it nearly impossible for the industry to rebound from its financial losses. On Tuesday morning, AMC said in a public filings report that it could run out of money by the year’s end. 

“Given the reduced movie slate for the fourth quarter, in the absence of significant increases in attendance from current levels or incremental sources of liquidity, at the existing cash burn rate, the Company anticipates that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021,” the top movie chain wrote. 

AMC said that theatergoing at its sites is down 85% compared to this time last year. On top of social distancing requirements meaning that theaters can only be partially filled, the desire to go to theaters is also lacking. A poll from Variety showed that as of October, just over 20% of adults in the U.S. feel very or somewhat comfortable going to the movies. While this is an increase from how many felt comfortable earlier in the pandemic, it is still not enough to fill seats.

See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (CNBC) (Variety)

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