IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun: A look back at their feud as '1989' is rereleased

The record executive acquired the rights to Swift’s studio albums in 2019, which deepened an ongoing feud between the two.
/ Source: TODAY

On Oct. 27, Taylor Swift released her next rerecorded album, "1989 (Taylor's Version)," and some new Swifties may be wondering why the singer is rereleasing her previous albums.

The "Taylor's Version" journey began a few years ago after music manager Scooter Braun was involved in a deal that resulted in the acquisition of the singer's old music.

Scooter Braun's company acquires label Taylor Swift recorded her first albums under

The decision stems back to 2019, when Braun's company, Ithaca Holdings, acquired Big Machine Label Group — the group Swift recorded her first albums under. As part of that deal, the group received control of "Taylor Swift," "Fearless," "Speak Now," "Red," "1989" and "Reputation."

About a year and a half later, Braun reportedly sold the master rights to those six albums, Variety reported in November 2020.

Swift previously worked with Big Machine Records until 2018, when she left and signed a multiyear deal with Universal Music Group.

Taylor Swift pens post about sale of her music, alleges 'manipulative bullying' by Scooter Braun

On June 30, 2019, Swift shared in a post to Tumblr why she left Big Machine Records and how she learned about the sale of her masters to Scooter Braun.

"For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work," Swift began her post. "Instead I was 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. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future."

Swift then said she found out Braun acquired her masters in the news like the rest of the world.

"All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years," she wrote.

She then referenced when Kim Kardashian released what she described as "an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call" via videos shared to Snapchat in 2016.

Kardashian shared the videos in defense of her then-husband Kanye West, now known as Ye, as an attempt to show Swift agreed during a phone call to West's use of the lyrics “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that b---- famous” in the song "Famous." At the time, NBC News reported Swift's reps denied the singer ever signed off on the line “I made that b---- famous.”

Later on, the music video for "Famous" featured a Swift look-alike with other celebrity doubles nude in bed with West, which Swift referred to in her blog post as "a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked."

"Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy," Swift continued. "Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it."

Swift's Tumblr post also featured a screengrab of a 2016 Instagram post from Justin Bieber. Bieber's post featured a grab of himself on a FaceTime call with West and Braun along with the caption, "Taylor swift what up."

At the time of Swift's blog post, Braun did not respond to NBC News' request for comment, but Bieber released a statement saying Braun had no involvement in his Instagram post. West and Kardashian also declined to comment to NBC News.

"Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter," Swift wrote in her post.

An extended version of the video was leaked in 2020, which indicated Swift was not told about the lyric "I made that b---- famous."

Kardashian shared a message about the extended video on Twitter shortly after its release.

"To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that 'Kanye never called to ask for permission...'" she wrote. "They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word 'b----' was used without her permission."

Taylor Swift responds to the sale of her music

In November 2020, news broke of Braun's company reportedly selling Swift's music to another group. Swift responded online and shared how she found out about the sale.

Scooter Braun and Taylor Swift.
Scooter Braun and Taylor Swift.Getty Images

She wrote her team attempted to negotiate with Braun in an effort to get back control of her master recordings. After explaining why her team and Braun's team never came to an agreement, Swift said the company buying her "music, videos and album art from Scooter Braun" reached out to let her know about the sale. Swift says she learned Braun would continue to make money off her old music for a long time, and she announced she had started the process of rerecording her old music.

"I have plenty of surprises in store," she wrote, concluding her post by thanking her fans for their support.

Taylor Swift begins rereleasing her old music

Swift began rereleasing her music in 2021. She dropped the rerecorded version of "Love Story" in February 2021 before rereleasing the entire "Fearless" album, titled "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," that April. One of those surprises Swift promised her fans came in the form of vault tracks — songs written at the time of the original album but did not make the final cut.

Her subsequent rereleased albums, "Red (Taylor's Version)" (2021), "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" (2023) and "1989 (Taylor's Version) (2023)," contain vault tracks.

Scooter Braun speaks out about his handling of Taylor Swift's music

In September 2022, Braun sat down with NPR for an interview, and he opened up about the feud.

Braun was asked if he would handle the acquisition in a different manner if he could go back in time. And he acknowledged that there was something he would change if he could.

“Yes, I would have. I learned an important lesson from that,” he said.

In his interview, Braun explained that he was under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) while he was negotiating with Big Machine Records, and said that affected how much he was able to say about the deal before it closed.

While interacting with the record agency's owner, Braun claimed he learned that Swift had no interest in her masters.

“What I told him was, hey, if any of the artists want to come back and buy into this, you have to let me know. And he shared a letter with me that’s out there publicly that — you know, the artist you’re referring to said, I don’t want to participate in my masters. I’ve decided to, you know, not make this deal, blah, blah, blah. So that was the idea I was under," he said.

According to Swift, though, she did want to acquire the rights to her masters. However, Big Machine said she could only do so by staying at their agency and slowly earning the rights to each album with every new album she recorded from there on out. Ultimately, she turned that offer down and left for a new record agency.

Braun asserted that he was "excited to work with every artist on the label" and had started making phone calls after the deal closed to tell artists he was a part of it.

"And before I could even do that — I made four phone calls; I started to do those phone calls — all hell broke loose. So I think a lot of things got lost in translation. I think that when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation," he said.

Braun went on to describe the one thing he regrets about the whole situation.

"So the regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s be in business together. And I made that assumption with people that I didn’t know," he said.

Rather than subscribe to the conflict, Braun chose to focus on the future.

"What I’m going to do is I’m going to learn from it. I’m going to move on," he said.

Taylor Swift releases new albums

Swift's viral 2019 Tumblr post concluded with a reminder that a new album, "Lover," would be dropping that August.

That album was the first of many successful ones released after she left Big Machine Records. In addition to "Lover," Swift dropped more albums during the COVID-19 pandemic: "Folklore" (2020), the surprise album "Evermore" (2020) five months later and "Midnights" (2022).

In 2023, Swift released a deluxe version of "Midnights" and kicked off her huge "Eras Tour," which features songs from all of the singer's many eras. Fans who could not get tickets to one of the concerts can see Swift on the big screen. "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" features footage from Swift's real-life shows and has been a massive hit at the box office.

Major singers drop Scooter Braun

In August 2023, big talents like Demi Lovato and Idina Menzel parted ways with Braun. There have also been rumors that Justin Bieber, who's arguably Braun's biggest client, and Ariana Grande stopped working with the music manager. Representatives for both artists did not respond to NBC News' previous requests for comment.

Braun is focusing on his new role as CEO of entertainment company Hybe America, a source previously told NBC News.

“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,” the source told NBC News. “People are spreading rumors based on what they know but they are off.”

The source added that conversations about representation have been ongoing for months and there is “no bad blood” between Braun and the clients.