When Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine Label Group for around $300m in 2019, the deal included Taylor Swift’s back catalogue of recordings – something that made Swift furious given her ongoing disputes with Braun.
Nearly a year and a half on, Ithaca has sold those master rights to Swift’s first six albums on, in a deal that Variety suggested was “north of $350m” (and possibly as high as $450m after earn-backs).
It’s not a happy ending for Swift though: she tweeted out her take on the news last night, claiming that: a.) she balked at trying to buy the catalogue herself due to an “ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive”; b.) that the buyer is private equity company Shamrock Holdings (fresh from a recent $400m funding round for music acquisitions); and c.) that she did talk to Shamrock about working with the company, but “learned that under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off my old musical catalog for many years” so declined.
Been getting a lot of questions about the recent sale of my old masters. I hope this clears things up. pic.twitter.com/sscKXp2ibD
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 16, 2020
Swift confirmed that she has already begun re-recording those first six albums, something that in a letter to Shamrock that she also shared in the tweet, she acknowledged “will diminish the value of my old masters”.
The deal certainly seems good for Braun, who may have more than recouped the cost of his Big Machine acquisition while retaining all the label’s non-Taylor-Swift assets. Without the artist on board, Shamrock’s acquisition looks… risky.
Or to put it another way: according to Swift, Shamrock agreed a deal with provisions that, it turns out, mean she won’t partner with them and will continue re-recording her back catalogue. Yet she also claims that the company wasn’t allowed to talk to her (and find this out) before the deal was completed.
Shamrock has issued its side of the story, in a statement to Axios, which suggests that it was not blindsided by this turn of events.
“Taylor Swift is a transcendent artist with a timeless catalog. We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered,” said the company.
“We appreciate Taylor’s open communication and professionalism with us these last few weeks. We hope to partner with her in new ways moving forward and remain committed to investing with artists in their work.”