Taylor Swift’s feud with former label Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun is flaring up again, in light of a new live release she says she had no hand in planning.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Swift called out the upcoming project Live from Clear Channel Stripped 2008, an unreleased live album set to hit streaming services. “I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me,” Swift wrote in the post, calling the album a case of “shameless greed” during the pandemic. “It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family and The Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money.”
Variety reported that insiders say the label is expected to only make $60,000 to $80,000 in a year from the album’s streaming performance. Curiously, as of Friday morning, the album was listed on Spotify as being released in 2008, despite it being officially released today.
The call-out is the latest in a dispute between Swift and her former label Big Machine Records. In 2018, Swift left the label for Republic Records and Universal Music Group in an unprecedented deal, using the move as a way to potentially redefine protections for artists when it comes to streaming. Swift lost any chance of owning her masters in the move, and in 2019 she called out Big Machine Records for selling the company and her masters to Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings.
Whether or not you think Swift’s anger over the loss of her masters is overblown given the fairly standard terms of her initial contract (and the “standards” sure are slimy in the music industry) with Big Machine Records, her outspokenness about losing her masters felt like a turning point in pop star transparency when it comes to label tactics. As I wrote last year, “when she uses her platform to articulate the slimier aspects of the music industry from her already extremely comfortable throne, fans, outsiders to that reality, are better for it.” And as Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun continue to take advantage of the wealth of unreleased Swift recordings they probably have in the vault, I’m positive we’ll keep hearing her side of the story.