Can Taylor Swift be banned from performing her own songs?

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I heard Taylor Swift’s in the middle of a controversy again. Is this true?

Yup. You heard right. 

What happened this time? 

Taylor is having a very public fight with Scooter Braun, manager of her musical nemesis Kanye West, and Scott Borchetta, former owner of her music label. Recently, Scooter took over her old recording label, Big Machine Label Group, from Scott for $300 million. She claims that the company, who owns the rights to the masters of her older material, is not allowing her to perform those songs at the American Music Awards later this month where she will be named ‘Artist of the Decade’. She claims that they are doing this because it is considered to be a ‘re-recording’ which is not technically allowed as per her contract. 

Isn’t that petty? 

Probably. Though this kind of clause is in many artists’ contracts, it is never really enforced. Usually, the quality of a televised event is nowhere near the original, so it’s not considered a problem – and in fact after events like the Awards ceremony, there is usually a spike in real sales, as more people hear and like the music. This benefits those who have the rights to the music. 

Why all the fuss then? 

The backstory is that Taylor was furious when Scooter took over Big Machine as he also bought the rights to her music, when she was not given the same chance to buy the rights to her own music. 

She declared on a chat show that she plans to re-record her old songs next year after her contract is over. This means that she is going to take control over the new masters, and therefore, gain the rights to earn money from them as well. 

She claims that Scooter and Scott have said that they will only agree to her performing her old songs at the AMAs IF she does NOT re-record them. She also claims that they are blocking a Netflix documentary about her for the same reason. 

That’s blackmail! 

If it’s true, then yes. Scott and Scooter deny all of it, stating that they had never said anything about preventing Taylor from singing her back catalogue of songs and that she had misunderstood the terms. The company also stated that they were close to sorting things out, but Taylor decided to take the whole thing public by calling on her fanbase to support her against Scott.  

Do you mean the hot and trending #IStandWithTaylor tag?

That’s the one. It has gained so many supporters and is boosting her popularity to even greater astronomical heights if that is possible! The final act of this drama will depend now on when, the proverbial fat lady, will sing!


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

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