Taylor Swift is proof that artists will always be treated unfairly under capitalism
This morning, I opened up social media to find a flurry of news and controversy surrounding pop music’s arguably biggest star, Taylor Swift, involving news of her label being sold to big-time music producer Scooter Braun, who, if you’re not familiar with, produces and manages stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
The entire issue is rather chaotic and blurry, so here’s a breakdown of what I managed to glean, so far:
- Taylor Swift posted a lengthy message on Tumblr detailing how finding out about Scooter Braun’s purchase of her masters was her “worst case scenario”.
For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big…
- Following this, Scooter Braun’s wife took to Instagram, defending her husband’s actions:
- Scott Borchetta, CEO of Taylor Swift’s former label, Big Machine Records, also weighed in on the issue in a blog post, backing up Scooter Braun’s claims.
Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave.
As to her comments about ‘being in tears or close to it’ anytime my new partner Scooter Braun’s name was brought up, I certainly never experienced that. Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber? Yes. But there were also times where Taylor knew that I was close to Scooter and that Scooter was a very good source of information for upcoming album releases, tours, etc, and I’d reach out to him for information on our behalf. Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor. He called me directly about Manchester to see if Taylor would participate (she declined).
The main takeaway from all this is that Scott Borchetta offered another contract to Swift that would allow her to own all rights to her masters and previous assets — that is, albums, photographs, and all past music she released — under the condition that she would remain with Big Machine Records. However, as the entire industry and audience learned last November 2018, Swift chose instead to leave for Universal Music Group, for reasons that she would be receiving “much better terms”.
Swift has always been vocal about artists’ rights to their own work, and the move to Universal only clearly amplified that — along with her frustration at her former labels’ ownership handed over to Scooter Braun.
To better place things in perspective, it must be recalled that Big Machine Records has been an independent record label since its inception, and Taylor Swift has unquestionably been its biggest star, practically catapulting the label into the mainstream. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Borchetta, its CEO, would want for Swift to stay, and would do anything in his power for her to do so, including granting her rights to all her past music — music that Swift began writing as a teenager in her bedroom that have now become anthems in their own rights and granted her millions of dedicated fans around the world.
Lover, album out August 23. Cover shot by the artistic genius that is @valheria123 💗 Pre-add, pre-save, pre-order (all the pre stuff you feel like doing) Can’t wait for you to hear this. https://t.co/SGjcCUYZdM pic.twitter.com/IPy54raQUF
- Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 13, 2019
But the issue here is just that: Swift’s music is her own creation, the product of her own work, time, and effort — and just for that itself should inherently belong to her , and no one else — not Scott Borchetta or Big Machine Records or Universal Music Group, or whatever label she decides to sign with in future, but to herself.
And indeed, such is the problem that artists, not just Swift, around the world have long faced, and still continue to face to this day. Ownership and credit supposedly belonging to certain artists are instead handed over to more powerful figures all due to bureaucracy. Art — whether it is music, poetry, film, or any other medium, is nothing but content, and content is nothing if it’s not profitable. And this is inherently not bad, as artists need to be paid to survive, but under capitalism, so little is attributed to artists themselves, and so much goes to those in power, just for that very sake: because they have the power to do so.
And in Swift’s case, that just happens to be Scooter Braun, a music industry powerhouse whose name is associated with the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato. Swift, in an Instagram story, claimed that Braun ‘bullied her on social media’ during her lowest point in life, and whether or not that’s true depends on who you ask, but what remains undisputed is that Swift has incessantly been the subject and target of online hate, peaking during the unforgettable Kanye West-Kim Kardashian-snake controversy of 2016.
With all this, it should no longer be a surprise that Swift has grown so defensive of herself and her rights, and has developed the stances she now has on artists’ rights and ownership. Taylor Swift is undoubtedly one of the biggest, most powerful pop stars of this day and age, and if a celebrity of her magnitude and stature experiences injustice, one can only imagine what small, independent artists face in order to survive and thrive authentically as an artist in a capitalist world. But with Swift’s newfound courage to use her platform to speak out and call out those in power, it may not be too late to hope for change. She has broken the impossible before, after all.
Originally published at https://share.snippetmedia.com on July 1, 2019.