All eyes will be on Taylor Swift this weekend as she's set to receive Artist of the Decade Award at the 2019 American Music Awards.
While this should be a very exciting time for the 29-year-old superstar, she's in the middle of an ongoing music battle with record executive Scooter Braun and Big Machine Label Group's Scott Borchetta over the rights to her music. As Swift revealed to fans on Thursday, Nov. 14, she had been planning to perform a medley of hits from her previous albums, but she's being blocked by Braun and Borchetta.
In her message to her fans, posted on social media, Swift called out the two men, stating they said she's not allowed to perform her old songs on TV because "they claim that would be re-recording my music before I'm allowed to next year."
As Swift fans will remember, the "Lover" artist was very upset back in June after learning that Braun had acquired Big Machine Records, the label under which Swift released her first six award-winning albums. In her message, Swift—who is now signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group—said she felt "sad and grossed out" by the move, which was coordinated with Borchetta.
Now, with Swift's 2019 AMAs performance and a Netflix special up in the air, we're breaking down all the latest details on this music battle.
Oct. 30: The AMAs announce that T.Swift will receive the Artist of the Decade Award at the upcoming ceremony. "She's won more #AMAs than anyone this decade…She's a five-time 2019 #AMAs nominee…AND she's performing at this year's #AMAs LIVE on Nov. 24… @taylorswift13 is our ARTIST OF THE DECADE," the AMAs Twitter posted in late October.
Nov. 14: Swift takes to social media to call out Braun and Borchetta, stating that in addition to the blocking her from performing her old music on TV, Braun and Borchetta "declined the use of my older music or performance footage" for a Netflix documentary on her life.
"Even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film," Swift noted.
"Scott Borchetta told my team that they'll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I'm both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun," Swift shared with her social media followers. "The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you'll be punished."
Swift's post received support from a number of her pals, including Halsey, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt and many more female stars.
"At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere," Big Machine's response read. "Since Taylor's decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate."
"The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company, which is responsible for 120 hardworking employees who helped build her career," the statement continued. "We have worked diligently to have a conversation about these matters with Taylor and her team to productively move forward. We started to see progress over the past two weeks and were optimistic as recently as yesterday that this may get resolved. However, despite our persistent efforts to find a private and mutually satisfactory solution, Taylor made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families."
The statement even told Swift that the "narrative" she "created" does not exist.
After seeing this from Big Machine, Swift's rep released a statement, challenging the claims the record company had made. In the new statement from Swift's team, they shared a message they received from the Vice President, Rights Management and Business Affairs from Big Machine Label Group on Oct. 28.
The message read, "Please be advised that BMLG will not agree to issue licenses for existing recordings or waivers of its re-recording restrictions in connection with these two projects: The Netflix documentary and The Alibaba 'Double Eleven' event."
Swift's read further clarified, "To avoid an argument over rights, Taylor performed three songs off her new album Lover at the Double Eleven event as it was clear that Big Machine Label Group felt any televised performance of catalog songs violated her agreement. In addition, yesterday Scott Borchetta, CEO and founder of Big Machine Label Group, flatly denied the request for both American Music Awards and Netflix. Please notice in Big Machine's statement, they never actually deny either claim Taylor said last night in her post."
The statement concluded, "Lastly, Big Machine is trying to deflect and make this about money by saying she owes them. But, an independent, professional auditor has determined that Big Machine owes Taylor $7.9 million dollars of unpaid royalties over several years."
Nov. 18: Big Machine Label Group releases a new statement in regards to the AMAs.
"The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists' performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms," Big Machine Label Group said. "This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances."
"It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media," the statement concluded. "Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists' audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed."
While this might seem like a green light for Swift to perform her old hit songs, Dick Clark Productions then responded, saying that they never authorized Big Machine's statement.
"At no time did Dick Clark Productions agree to, create, authorize or distribute a statement in partnership with Big Machine Label Group regarding Taylor Swift's performance at the 2019 American Music Awards," the statement read. "Any final agreement on this matter needs to be made directly with Taylor Swift's management team. We have no further comment."
Nov. 19: A report from Page Six surfaces stating that Swift might be joined on the AMAs stage by her fellow female stars, such as Halsey, Gomez and Kesha. "Taylor will turn her AMA performance into a huge moment, and a powerful message," a source told the outlet. "We are expecting to see artists such as Selena join her on stage as part of a fierce show of female artistic strength and empowerment."
While nothing has been confirmed by Swift's team at this time, people close to the show are telling E! News that it's going to be an amazing performance and a celebration of Swift's career. And, as Swifties will know, the superstar singer knows how to deliver a dynamic performance.
We can't wait to see!
The 2019 American Music Awards will take place this Sunday, Nov. 24, on ABC.