A music industry insider spoke with reporters from Hollywood Life recently to discuss the recent controversy surrounding Scooter Braun’s purchasing of Taylor Swift’s master recordings out from underneath her. As it was previously reported, the pop-star wrote a Tumblr blog post in which she accused Scooter of underhanded and manipulative tactics.
Mr. Braun bought Scott Borchetta’s record label for a whopping $300,000,000 which included Taylor Swift’s first 5 records. In a post on her Tumblr account, the pop-star explained her feelings toward the news, stating that for years, Scooter bullied and manipulated her, and seemed as though Scott and Scooter colluded to control her fate.
Ben McClane spoke with the outlet, a music industry lawyer, and stated that Scooter’s decision comes down to the brass-tax of the industry: money. Typically, when an artist signs a record contract, Mr. McClane explained, they give up the copyright to the songs they’ve written for the label.
The original sound recordings are called “masters.” This is a part of the music business, in a nutshell, unlike what many people on social media believe. The vast majority of artists out there, with some exceptions of highly successful and wealthy people, do not own their work; the label does.
In many cases, as it was just mentioned, when artists become extremely successful, and thus wealthy, they will often try and purchase the rights to their recordings so they can do what they want with their music. One example would be Chance The Rapper, who never actually signed any contracts and now owns the rights to all of his music.
Ben said it’s a possibility that the amount Taylor had to pay far exceeded the money she actually has. Ben said, “we don’t really know what happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she made an overture to buy the rights back to her masters,” but the price of them was simply too much.
Ben said to the outlet that the copyright for an artist exists for seventy-years, typically the span of their life, so over decades, those master recordings are big-money as the music is streamed, used in commercials, and in other ventures.
According to McClane, however, the plus-side for Taylor is that she will likely always get royalties, so she won’t be damaged financially in this situation. Ben said he believes Taylor simply doesn’t like that Scooter is the one to own them.
Ben added there is simply nothing Taylor can legally do in this situation. However, Taylor could make a deal with Scooter, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.