West took to Twitter to make the announcement in all caps, writing, “I’m going to personally see to it that Taylor Swift gets her masters back. Scooter is a close family friend.”
Following Swift’s response to Braun—who bought the singer’s masters when he purchased her former label Big Machine Label Group for over $300 million—reports surfaced that Swift could have acquired the rights to her music and/or the label itself. However, that isn’t exactly true.
According to Swift and her attorney Donald Passman, she was never given the opportunity to purchase her masters without signing a new deal with Big Machine, and under terms that she found to be objectionable.
In her statement regarding Braun purchasing Big Machine, which she posted on Tumblr, Swift wrote, “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in.” Her remarks didn't say she wasn’t offered the opportunity to buy the rights to her music.
Around that time, in July 2019, Passman also issued a statement that read, “Scott Borchetta never gave Taylor Swift an opportunity to purchase her masters, or the label, outright with a check in the way he is now apparently doing for others.” A source later told Variety that Swift wasn’t given the chance to buy either her masters or the label without inking a new deal that would confine her to Big Machine for an additional 10 years, and then to wherever Borchetta decided to sell to afterward.
“I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past,” she wrote.
In his own blog post addressing the situation, Borchetta wrote, “As you will read, 100% of all Taylor Swift assets were to be transferred to her immediately upon signing the new agreement. We were working together on a new type of deal for our new streaming world that was not necessarily tied to ‘albums’ but more of a length of time.”
Variety reports that the terms he was referring to were suggested as 10 years by Big Machine and seven years by Swift’s team. The contract wasn’t signed, so it appears the parties couldn’t reach a compromise. Of course, selling Swift’s catalog was in Borchetta's best interest: her masters make up a massive piece of Big Machine’s reported $300 million value, something Borchetta seemingly needed in order to get a better deal for his label.
It appears that Swift's best workaround will be rerecording her first six albums. In December, Billboard reported in an interview that Swift would be able to start in November when she has contractual freedom. Weeks later, Braun said he was open to hearing “all possibilities” in coming up with a “resolution,” including working out a sale, according to sources who spoke with the outlet. Taylor has been seemingly excited about re-recording her songs, telling Good Morning America that it's “something that I’m very excited about doing, because my contract says that starting November 2020—so, next year—I can record albums 1 through 5 all over again.”
In a follow-up tweet, Ye also brought Drake into the conversation, making a joke about the rapper’s deals: “We’re gonig [sic] to transparently change every album deal every publishing deal every merch deal every touring deal except for Drake’s deals,” Ye wrote. “Just kidding…I love Drake too…all artist must be free.”
Kanye’s latest tweets arrive after he shared 114 pages of his own record contracts on the streaming platform on Wednesday, as well as ruminated on the state of the music business and the importance of artist ownership.