Three years after she bought the original rights to Taylor Swift’s old music, Scooter Braun said she wishes the transaction had been different.
On Wednesday, the music mogul chatted with Jay Williams for NPR’s “The Limits With Jay Williams.” during the conversation of almost 40 minutes, Braun recalled acquiring Big Machine, Swift’s former label, and her master recordings through that purchase. The 2019 acquisition then escalated into a larger public conflict that sparked a conversation about ownership and rights within the music industry.
When Williams asked Braun if he would go back in time to redo that acquisition, Braun said, “Yes.”
“I learned an important lesson from that,” he said.
Braun, who merged his Ithaca Holdings with label owner BTS HYBE for $1 billion in 2021, said there was a miscommunication between him, Big Machine and their roster of artists.
“It was under a very strict NDA with the gentleman who owned it, and couldn’t tell any artist. I was not allowed, I was not legally allowed,” he said. “What I said to him was, ‘Hey, if any of the artists want to come back and buy this, you have to let me know.'”
The longtime manager, who has worked with talents like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, said he was “excited to be working with the artists on the label” 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 postSwift criticized Braun for “the relentless and manipulative bullying I have received at his hands for years”.
“Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, which I didn’t get a chance to buy,” he wrote. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to fall into the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
Looking back at Swift’s response in 2022, Braun said he thinks “a lot of things got lost in translation.”
“I think when you have a conflict with someone it’s very difficult to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation,” he added. “So my regret is that I assumed everyone, once the deal was done, would have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, ‘Great. Let’s do business together.’”
Braun said he learned the “important lesson” not to assume that artists will be completely willing to collaborate.
“I can’t put myself in a place of arrogance thinking that someone would just be willing to have a conversation, be excited to work with me,” he said. “I don’t know these people.”
Three years after the 2019 conflict with Swift, Braun said he “didn’t appreciate how that all happened,” adding that he sees how unfair the situation was on both sides.
“I choose to see it as a learning lesson, a growth lesson, and I wish everyone involved the best,” he said. “I’m rooting for everyone to win because I don’t believe in rooting for people to lose.”
Swift Braun allegedly harassed her through Bieber and former client Kanye West and their social media posts, and through leaks of confidential information. braun said Variety last year that Swift’s reaction was “very confusing and not based on anything factual.”
Ever since Braun lost her master recordings, Swift has embarked on a campaign to re-record her catalogue. Since the 2019 drama, she has released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version).”