Scooter Braun’s Purchase of Taylor Swift’s Catalog is Just Another Form of Abuse By Men in the Music Industry
Those engaged within the scope of the music industry are no stranger to tactical business endeavors. Or just unmistakable forms of manipulation and abuse.
In a recent Tumblr post written by Taylor Swift, the pop star dished out her thoughts and feelings in regard to music mogul Scooter Braun and his controversial investment of the Big Machine Records music catalog. “Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
I woke up Sunday morning checking out Ariana Grande’s latest Instagram story in which she congratulated her manager, Scooter Braun, for sealing the deal with the record label for $300 million. Later that day, she deleted the post after the public outcry from fans (or stans) on Twitter.
The altercations that stemmed from the news were ignited due to Swift’s outspoken blog post. The Big Machine Records catalog included everything that Swift has produced from the very beginning of her career up until 2017. Her rights to the work she created over the years are now being stripped away — thanks to money-hungry music executives like Braun.
“Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.”
Some musicians have voiced their support for Swift following the news. Brendon Urie stated in a recent video, “This broke my heart. I read Taylor’s statement and it sounds about right, you know? Toxic dudes doing toxic bullshit in this toxic industry.”
Alt-pop singer Halsey wrote a supportive message on Twitter. “[It] turns my guts that no matter how much power or success a woman has in this life, you are still susceptible to someone coming along and making you feel powerless out of spite. It speaks volumes to how far we have to come in the music industry. The way writers are treated. How as an entertainer you are respected but as a writer, you’re walked all over.”
YouTuber Todrick Hall also defended Taylor in the midst of the controversy, vocalizing his distaste with Braun: “I left Scooter Braun a long time ago… I am saddened by this news, but not shocked. He is an evil person [whose] only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego.”
From these various statements, there is a noticeable trend — the notion of toxic bullying and manipulation from powerful music industry magnates. It is a reoccurring issue seen in entertainment. And apparently it has not ended.
A solid example of this can be seen in the emotive feud between Kesha and former manager Dr. Luke. In 2014, the singer claimed that Dr. Luke “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused her to the point where she nearly lost her life.” The suit additionally alleged he drugged and raped her on two occasions, made threats against Kesha and her family, and called her derogatory names.
While this may seem far more serious in comparison to Swift’s dispute with Braun, Kesha’s case also underscores the detrimental effects of the patriarchal system found in the music industry. Dr. Luke denied all of the allegations made against him and sued the singer for defamation. In the end, the mogul won $40 million from the lawsuit against her. Sony knew about the abuse but chose to ignore it.
Abuse from male figures in the industry can range from a betrayal such as Scooter Braun’s decision to buy out Taylor Swift’s discography or the physical and emotional damage Dr. Luke caused Kesha. According to an article written in LA Weekly, Jordannah Elizabeth argues that men have become increasingly problematic in the world of entertainment:
“The music industry is part of a larger culture that continues to treat women as something that can be owned, sold, passed around, capitalized on, raped, lied to and paid less. It’s an industry that covers up the bad behavior of men and creates a culture of fear for women.”
The worst part of this? There are influential figures— men and women alike — who have supported Braun throughout the endless attacks of his repulsive choices. Justin Bieber, one of Braun’s biggest clients, directed Swift in an Instagram post writing, “What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? Seems to me like it was sympathy [and] you also knew in posting that, your fans would go and bully Scooter.”
Blaming Swift for bringing the situation to social media, Bieber was ultimately contradicting himself by making an Instagram post about it. And preceding to ignore how women are detrimentally treated in the music industry. In fact, one of his former dancers slammed the singer for allegedly paying her “less than minimum wage” while working for him. Most would infer that this ill-treatment came from Braun and the label.
Demi Lovato also defended Braun through her social media: “I have dealt with bad people in this industry and Scooter is not one of them. He’s a good man.” Braun’s wife wrote in an Instagram post, “Scooter was so excited to work and build with you. How embarrassing this temper tantrum is because you didn’t get your own way.” The level of bias around these statements is appalling. Women attacking another woman who is rightfully trying to claim her work should be something left in the past.
Regardless of the negative responses, Swift is optimistic about the future of her music. “Thankfully, I am now signed to a label that believes I should own anything I create. Thankfully, I left my past in Scott’s hands and not my future. And hopefully, young artists or kids with musical dreams will read this and learn how to better protect themselves in a negotiation. You deserve to own the art you make.”