Just in Time: Scooter Braun Breaks His Silence on Taylor Swift Ahead of the American Music Awards

After almost five months of near public silence, on Thursday night Scooter Braun issued his first full-fledged statement about his continuing dispute with Taylor Swift over his acquisition of her old master recordings on Big Machine Label Group. Swift went public with her displeasure at the end of June when Big Machine’s deal was announced, and then said last week that Braun and Big Machine had blocked her from playing those old songs in an upcoming American Music Awards performance. The story captured public imagination to the extent that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren tweeted in support of Swift.

On Thursday, when asked about the disagreement at the 2019 Entertainment Industry Conference, Braun seemed to take issue with Swift’s having aired the feud out for all to see. “I just think we live in a time of toxic division,” he said, “and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations.”

By nightfall, he had changed his tune and posted a long open letter to Swift on Instagram. “As the world now knows,” he wrote, “you can and should perform any song you would like at the AMAs. I have never and would never say otherwise. You do not need anyone’s permission to do so legally but I am stating it here clearly and publicly so there is no more debate or confusion.”

If there’s anything about Swift’s statement on the AMAs that came in for the most criticism, it might have been the invocation of her ardent fan base. “Please let [Big Machine CEO] Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this,” she wrote in the post. What appeared to be Borchetta’s and Braun’s phone numbers and addresses began to circulate on Twitter, forcing the social media company to remove some posts. (A spokesperson for Twitter said, “posting a person’s private information without their express permission is a direct violation of the Twitter Rules.”)

“Since your public statement last week there have been numerous death threats directed at my family,” Braun wrote in his statement. “This morning I spoke out publicly for the first time saying I wouldn’t participate in a social media war. However I came home tonight to find my wife had received a phone call threatening the safety of our children as well as other threats seen above.” (He included a screenshot of a death threat he said he had received.)

Despite the public statements on all sides, some of the central questions around Swift’s AMAs performance on Sunday remain murky. Big Machine’s statement last Friday said that it had no intention, in fact, to block Swift from performing at the AMAs, which didn’t address the more specific question of whether it legally could or wanted to block her from performing her old songs there. Braun’s new statement is more sweeping, saying that Swift can perform any songs she’d like. It’s unclear whether Big Machine or Braun have changed their positions over the past week or whether that was always the case, and spokespeople for both haven’t returned requests for comment. E! News also reported over the weekend, per an anonymous source, that “Scooter is frustrated because his name is being dragged in the mud. He doesn’t run Big Machine or have operational control of company. He hasn’t taken part in these negotiations.”

“This fight with Taylor is not something Scooter agrees with,” the source added.

A spokesperson for Swift didn’t return a request for comment on Braun’s new statement.

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