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Taylor Swift Can Now Play Whatever Music She Wants at the AMAs — and Big Machine Records Says She Always Could


Updated Nov. 18, 2019, 5 p.m. ET:

We have an update on Taylor Swift’s AMA-Gate — and it looks like there was never much conflict at all? Swift can now perform any of her music at the AMAs, and her former label, Big Machine Records, claims that was always the case.

Swift’s former record label released this statement to Variety on Nov. 18: “The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists’ performances to stream post-show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms. This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances. It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media. Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists’ audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed.”

Did you catch that very subtle shade? After Swift’s claims that Big Machine executives Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta were blocking her from performing her songs live, the company is now insisting that was never within their power. In fact, Big Machine released another statement on Nov. 15 saying they were “shocked” to see the “false information” Swift had been spreading.

“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,” they wrote. “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.”

We may never know whose side of the story has more truth to it, but clearly, Big Machine’s first statement didn’t have the desired effect. This new agreement will allow Swift to use original recordings of her songs as part of her AMAs performance, as well as allowing her live performance to be streamed and re-broadcast as a taped show going forward. Swift has yet to respond to this latest development.

Original story, published Nov. 15, 2019: 

Things just got even more contentious between Taylor Swift, Scooter Braun, and Scott Borchetta. On Thursday, the Grammy-winning singer gave a heartbreaking update to fans accusing the manager and her former label head of banning her from playing any of her old music at any recorded event — including the American Music Awards later this month, where Swift is being honored with the Artist of the Decade Award.

Swift took to social media Thursday evening to share a Tumblr post informing fans of the latest development in her ongoing struggle with Borchetta and Braun. She started by addressing the AMAs and how, as of right now, she’s unsure what might happen. “I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show. Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” Swift shared.

She went on to explain that Borchetta allegedly told her team he would allow her to play her older songs at the AMAs and other events under two conditions: if she agrees not to re-record copycat versions of her songs next year, and if she stops talking about Borchetta and Braun.

Swift isn’t backing down, though. As she pointed out, re-recording copycat versions of her songs is totally legal and something she is “looking forward to.” As for discussing the ongoing drama, Swift has no intention of being silenced. “I feel very strongly that sharing what is happening to me could change the awareness level for other artists and potentially help them avoid a similar fate. The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”

Sadly, Borchetta and Braun’s purported stranglehold on Swift’s body of work extends beyond the AMAs. She revealed in her post that Netflix has been making a documentary of her life, but Borchetta and Braun refuse to sign off on any of her older music or performance footage being used — “even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”

According to Swift, the situation is both unfair and unjust. “Neither of these men had a hand in writing those songs,” she wrote. “They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans.”

With that, Swift put out a plea to her fans: help.

She urged her followers to reach out to Borchetta and Braun with any feelings they may have about the situation. Swift also pointed out that Braun manages several other artists who may be more receptive to hearing from Swift’s fans. Unless something changes, Swift lamented, her “performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark.”

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