What Scooter Braun learned from his feud with Taylor Swift

Three years after he bought the master rights to Taylor Swift’s early music, Scooter Braun said he wished the transaction could have gone differently.

On Wednesday, the music mogul chatted with Jay Williams for NPR’s The Limits With Jay Williams. During the nearly 40-minute conversation, Braun recalled acquiring Big Machine, Swift’s former label, and her master recordings through that purchase. The 2019 takeover then escalated into a larger, public conflict that led to talks about ownership and rights within the music industry.

When Williams asked Braun if he would go back in time to repeat this acquisition, Braun said, “Yes.”

“I learned an important lesson from that,” he said.

Braun, who merged his Ithaca Holdings with BTS label owner HYBE for $1 billion in 2021, said there was a lack of communication between him, Big Machine and his artist roster.

“I had a very strict non-disclosure agreement with the gentleman who owned it and I couldn’t tell any artists. I wasn’t allowed, I wasn’t allowed by law,” he said. “What I said to him was, ‘Hey, if any of the artists want to come back and see for themselves, you have to let me know.'”

The longtime executive, who has worked with talent like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, said he was “excited to be working with the label’s artists” and began calling musicians. That was just before “all hell broke loose,” he said.

On the same day that Braun’s acquisition of Big Machine became official, Swift called the transaction “my worst-case scenario.” In a Tumblr post, Swift blasted Braun for “the non-stop, manipulative bullying I’ve experienced from him for years.”

“Now Scooter has taken my life’s work that I couldn’t buy,” she wrote. “Essentially, my musical legacy is in the hands of someone who has tried to dissect it.”

Looking back on Swift’s response in 2022, Braun said he believes “a lot of things got lost in translation.”

“I think when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it unless you’re willing to have a conversation,” he added. “So I regret that I assumed that once the deal was done, everyone would have a conversation with me, see my intention, see my character and say, ‘Great. Let’s be in business together.’”

Braun said he learned the “important lesson” of not assuming artists will be fully on board to collaborate.

“I can’t get arrogant if I think that if someone would just be willing to have a conversation, would be excited to work with me,” he said. “I don’t know these people.”

Three years after the 2019 dispute with Swift, Braun said he “didn’t appreciate how this all went down,” adding that he saw how unfair the situation was for both parties.

“I look at it as a learning lesson, a growing lesson, and I wish everyone involved the best,” he said. “I’m all for everyone winning because I don’t believe in people losing.”

Swift claimed Braun bullied her through Bieber and former client Kanye West and their social media posts, as well as leaks of sensitive information. Braun told Variety last year that Swift’s response was “very confusing and not factual.”

Since losing her master recordings to Braun, Swift has launched a campaign to re-include her catalog. Since the 2019 drama, she has released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version).

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-09-30/scooter-braun-regret-taylor-swift-feud What Scooter Braun learned from his feud with Taylor Swift

Sarah Ridley

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