Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings company acquired Taylor Swift’s original masters from Big Machine Label Group three years ago. A controversial deal given that Swift was denied the opportunity to buy the records herself, the music manager is now talking about the “important lesson” he learned from the situation.
On Friday (Sept. 30), Braun appeared on NPR’s The Limits podcast to talk about the drama and admitted that he came from a “place of arrogance,” assuming that he and Swift could end things on good terms.
“I was excited to work with every artist on the label. So when we finalized the deal, I started making phone calls to say, ‘Hey, I’m a part of this.’ And before I could even do that… all hell broke loose,” Braun said. Soon after Braun acquired Swift’s catalog, the pop star posted to Tumblr condemning Braun’s actions, calling it her “worst case scenario” and saying she learned of it “as it was announced to the world.”
Braun continued, “I think a lot of things got lost in translation. I think that when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation. So the regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s be in business together. And I made that assumption with people that I didn’t know.”
If you’re unfamiliar with all that went down: Braun purchased Swift’s catalog when Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine, owned by Scott Borchetta. The dealing was reportedly worth $300 million. Swift said at the time that she was never given the opportunity to purchase the masters though Borchetta claims she was. The situation prompted Swift to re-record all her old albums. So far, she has recorded “Taylor’s Version” editions of Fearless and Red.
“When I did that deal… I was under a very strict NDA with the gentleman who owned it, and I couldn’t tell any artist. I wasn’t allowed to. I wasn’t legally allowed to,” Braun told NPR. “What I told him was, ‘Hey, if any of the artists want to come back and buy into this, you have to let me know.’ And he shared a letter with me, that’s out there publicly, that the artist you’re referring to said, I don’t want to participate in my masters. I’ve decided to not make this deal, blah, blah, blah. So that was the idea I was under.”
He added, “I didn’t appreciate how that all went down. I thought it was unfair. But I also understand, from the other side, they probably felt it was unfair, too. I can’t put myself in a place of arrogance to think that someone would just be willing to have a conversation and be excited to work with me. I don’t know these people.”
Braun has since sold Swift’s catalog to investment firm Shamrock Holdings for more than $300 million. “This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge,” Swift said at the time.