The drama came to a head in June 2019 when it was announced that Braun’s media company, Ithaca Holdings, had acquired Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group for $300 million. Through the deal, Braun became the new owner of Swift’s first six albums with Big Machine Records: her self-titled debut, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989 and Reputation.
Swift condemned the business deal via Tumblr, calling it her “worst case scenario” and claiming that she’d faced “incessant, manipulative bullying” from Braun for years.
That August, the singer announced her plans to rerecord her first six albums in an attempt to regain the rights to her masters. “I think artists deserve to own their own work,” she told Robin Roberts during an appearance on Good Morning America.
Keep scrolling for a complete timeline of Swift and Braun’s feud:
Justin’s ‘Taylor Swift What Up’ Post (August 2016)
Justin Bieber shared a since-deleted photo via Instagram of him FaceTiming Braun and Kanye West, who was then a client of Braun’s. “Taylor Swift what up,” he captioned the snap. The post came amid Swift’s infamous feud with West.
Taylor’s Tumblr Post (July 2019)
After Braun’s acquisition of Big Machine made headlines in July 2019, Swift slammed the business deal via Tumblr.
In the lengthy blog post, the musician claimed that “for years,” she’d “pleaded for a chance to own my work” but was instead “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.”
Swift, who became Big Machine’s first client in 2005, continued: “I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, [Big Machine Records founder and CEO] Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”
The 12-time Grammy winner then claimed that she found out Braun had purchased her masters after the deal was made public. “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she wrote. “Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it. This is my worst case scenario.”
Swift also included a screenshot of Bieber’s infamous “Taylor Swift what up” Instagram post, writing, “This is Scooter Braun, bullying me on social media when I was at my lowest point.”
That same month, Bieber apologized for the post via Instagram saying that it was “distasteful and insensitive.” He also defended Braun, claiming that the music executive “didn’t have anything to do with” the post. “In all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that,” Bieber wrote.
Taylor Asks Fans for Help (November 2019)
Swift shared an update on the feud and directly asked her fans for help. In a letter shared via Twitter, she claimed that Borchetta and Braun told her she wasn’t allowed to perform any music from her first six albums during her American Music Awards performance.
“I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show,” she wrote of the then-upcoming performance.. “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, ‘Be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.’”
Swift then asked fans to reach out to celebrities who work with Braun in hopes that they could help her get permission to play her songs.
“Scooter also manages several artists who I really believe care about other artists and their work,” she penned. “Please ask them for help with this — I’m hoping that maybe they can talk some sense into the men who are exercising tyrannical control over someone who just wants to play the music she wrote.”
Later that month, Big Machine denied Swift’s claims in a lengthy statement. “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs,” the label claimed. “In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere.”
Scooter Sells Taylor’s Masters (November 2020)
Less than a year and a half after acquiring them, Braun sold Swift’s master rights to Shamrock Holdings for over $300 million. That same month, Swift shut down rumors that she’d purchased her catalog from Braun, revealing that the sale had occurred without her knowledge.
“He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me,” she claimed via Twitter.
The Taylor’s Version Era Begins (April 2021)
Swift made good on her promise to rerecord her first six albums and released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April 2021.
“I’ve spoken a lot about why I’m remaking my first six albums but the way I’ve chosen to do this will hopefully help illuminate where I’m coming from,” she wrote in the album’s prologue letter. “Artists should own their own work for so many reasons, but the most screamingly obvious one is that the artist is the only one who really knows that body of work.”
Swift went on to release Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021 and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) in July 2023. In August 2023, she announced that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) will be released in October 2023.
Scooter Speaks Out (June 2021)
Braun shared his side of the story during an interview for a Variety cover story. “I regret and it makes me sad that Taylor had that reaction to the deal,” he told the outlet, claiming that the details Swift shared about the acquisition were “not based on anything factual.”
He continued: “I don’t know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused.”
Braun added that he was most hurt by Swift’s characterization of him as a bully. “I’m firmly against anyone ever being bullied. I always try to lead with appreciation and understanding. The one thing I’m proudest of in that moment was that my artists and team stood by me. They know my character and my truth. That meant a lot to me,” he said.
Scooter Loses Clients (August 2023)
Demi Lovato, who previously defended Braun in July 2019 when Swift called him out for bullying, was one of several high-profile clients to reportedly cut ties with Braun in August 2023 along with Ariana Grande and Bieber.
An insider with knowledge of the situation told Us at the time that “all of Scooter Braun’s clients are under contract and negotiations have been going on for several months as Scooter steps into his larger role as Hybe America CEO.”
Swift’s fans were quick to theorize that the reports were indicative of trouble ahead for Braun. “How Taylor Swift is sleeping knowing Scooter Braun’s empire is crumbling #karma,” one Twitter user wrote alongside a photo of the titular mouse from Tom and Jerry snoozing soundly in a bed.
Another chimed in: “Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande leaving Scooter Braun?????!!?!?! Oh honey, this is better than revenge,” referencing Swift’s 2010 track of the same name.