By now, everyone has surely heard about the deal Scooter Braun made with Scott Borchetta to buy Big Machine Label Group for $300 million. Taylor Swift's masters were part of the purchase. In a blog post on Tumblr, she voiced her concern and disgust with her entire life's work landing in the hands of someone whom she doesn't feel respected.
In 2018, Swift left Big Machine Records and signed with Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Her new partnership allowed her to make a deal that would help all artists. In her contract with UMG, she asked that they distribute money made from Spotify shares directly to artists. She has always known her worth, as well as the worth of every artist, and made it her mission that every artist is recognized for their hard work and creativity.
Leaving Big Machine and Scott Borchetta consequently resulted in Swift losing her masters. Borchetta granted her the "opportunity" for her to "earn" one album back for every new album she turned in if she were to stay at his label. She declined because she knew that exploitation and bribery is not an opportunity at all. His deal seemed to be his way of keeping her in his grip as she would continue to be the most valuable artist at Big Machine. She was the most successful artist signed to that label and he would no longer be profiting off the woman whose success was all her own. Regardless of whether he believed he had any hand in it or not.
Scooter Braun being the owner of her catalog is something Taylor Swift considered to be her "worst-case scenario." And while it's hard to put a positive spin on something that is this serious, as a lifelong fan of Taylor's I can't help but feel like she is the one person who can gracefully come out on top of this dispute, no matter the outcome.
She's been writing the soundtrack to personal growth and progression since she was twelve. She's learned so much from her mistakes, the mistakes of others, heartbreak, backstabbings, and failures. She's smart, careful, and patient, and she's shown time and again how much she can handle. Essentially, this is not her first rodeo. And through every altercation, I think she cares a lot less about who she takes down. Her shots become more direct, and she rises up from the ashes tougher each time.
1. "A Place In This World"
"I'm alone, on my own, and that's all I know. I'll be strong, I'll be wrong, oh but life goes on. Oh, I'm just a girl, trying to find a place in this world."
Taylor Swift wrote these words decades ago, but they can serve as reassurance now. She's not invincible, but she is strong and that's worth a lot. She found that place in this world, and she has more wisdom, knowledge, and songs than she did when first started the path that led to where she is now.
2. "Cold As You"
"What a shame, what a rainy ending given to a perfect day. Just walk away, no use defending words that you will never say. And now that I'm sitting here thinking it through, I've never been anywhere cold as you."
Regardless of the context of this song and its intention, it relates to what Taylor Swift is currently going through. And she can choose not to stoop as low as Scott Borchetta did, or be as cold as he was when he sold her out. And her being the bigger person is worth more than any amount her songs can be sold for.
3. "The Outside"
"You saw me there, but never knew I would give it all up to be a part of this, a part of you. And now it's all too late so you see, You could've helped if you had wanted to, but no one notices until it's too late to do anything."
Being an outsider is nothing new for Taylor Swift, and even if it means being pushed outside of what she created, she will find a space that works for her.
4. "Tell Me Why"
"You might think I'm bulletproof, but I'm not. You took a swing, I took it hard, and down here from the ground I see who you are."
"Tell Me Why" is supposed to be about a guy who was being difficult, but I think it fits in with Taylor Swift's theme of growth. I think a lot of people would consider her to be this unstoppable force, but she's human. She put a lot of trust in people who pushed her down and ultimately did her dirty. And she's still not bulletproof, but she's still here.
5. "You're Not Sorry"
"You're looking so innocent, I might believe you if I didn't know"
Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun were quick to play the victim when Taylor Swift wrote the blog on Tumblr. Scott Borchetta penned a long essay telling his side of the story. Scooter Braun's wife did his dirty work. Both were telling their "truths" and discounting all of Swift's feelings on the matter. But it doesn't look like she's interested in what they have to say or whether they're sorry for any miscommunication. She knows better.
"And it's a sad picture, the final blow hits you. Somebody else gets what you wanted again and. You know it's all the same, another time and place."
Scooter Braun purchased what was rightfully hers when wasn't even granted the opportunity to buy it herself. It's a low blow from everyone involved. It was sneaky and manipulative. But as the song goes, things will change. Whether it's via karma, lawyers, or revenge.
it's also ironic that Taylor Swift wrote this song from the perspective of being at a small and powerless label, and now the lyrics can speak to her fight against it. She was what gave it any power and value it had, and when she left, Scott Borchetta tried to do everything he could to keep it.
"Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me. And all you're ever going to be is mean."
Every time someone has done something awful to Taylor Swift, she's always come out stronger. And she tops the charts with whatever her response is. Then the perpetrator is just left to be mean, pathetic, and washed up. It's a cycle that's been going on for years, and Scooter and Scott are brave to step into it.
8. "Better Than Revenge"
"Soon she's gonna find stealing other people's toys on the playground won't make you many friends. She should keep in mind, she should keep in mind, there is nothing I do better than revenge."
The intended message of "Better Than Revenge" is that anyone who steals from Taylor Swift should watch their back. She eventually learned that guys can't be stolen if they don't want to go, but songs can apparently be taken away.
And a lot rhymes with "Scooter," just saying.
"Did some things you can't speak of, but at night you live it all again. You wouldn't be shattered on the floor now, if only you had seen what you know now then."
Figuring out who inspired "Innocent" isn't rocket science, so it should be a warning to anyone else who is brave enough to cross Taylor Swift. She's tried being nice and letting things go, and that's only come back to bite her.
10. "I Knew You Were Trouble"
"No apologies, he'll never see you cry. Pretend he doesn't know that he's the reason why you're drowning."
Taylor Swift obviously knows a thing or two about trouble. And she sniffed it out of Scooter Braun. She does not trust him, and no one can tell her she is wrong for it. It's how she feels, regardless of what he claims his intentions were for buying her masters. This isn't new for her, and her intuition hasn't really been wrong. So it's a safe bet that she's right about him.
11. "The Lucky One"
"And they tell you that you're lucky, but you're so confused. 'Cause you don't feel pretty, you just feel used."
"The Lucky One" brings attention to some of Taylor Swifts fears of the industry. And she's seen some of them play out. The dispute over her masters is one of them. Every artist wants to feel like they have control over what they've created. But since she's anticipated her fears, hopefully, it will be easier to handle them.
12. "Begin Again"
"And for the first time, what's past is past."
"Begin Again" is all about starting over with something better to look forward to. When Taylor Swift left Scott Borchetta with her masters, she knew it was a risk she just had to be willing to take. But she did it for her future as an artist. And whatever comes after her first six albums, and whether she ever gets her masters back or not, the future looks good because she put her heart into it.
13. "Shake It Off"
"And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. I shake it off, I shake it off."
Hopefully, this drama is just one more step on Taylor Swift's ladder that she can step over and laugh about later.
14. "Bad Blood"
"Now we've got problems, and I don't think we can solve 'em. You made a really deep cut. And baby, now we've got bad blood."
Just when things were looking up and fences were mended with the person closely associated with "Bad Blood," Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun had to come in and cause problems. And obviously, Taylor Swift still has an army behind her and fans at her side so she'll be fine. It just sucks that she can't have peace for five minutes.
15. "I Know Places"
"They are the hunters, we are the foxes. And we run."
Taylor Swift is smarter and quicker than those who are after what she has. In this case, people are after her life's work, but she knows where to hide and has the strength to withstand it.
16. "End Game"
"Reputation precedes me, they told you I'm crazy. I swear I don't love the drama, it loves me."
This drama over her catalog just goes to show that Taylor Swift cannot outrun any drama. If she addresses something so she can let it go, something else comes along and begs for her attention. People probably do think she's insane at this point, but she's just trying to exist and create what she wants.
17. "I Did Something Bad"
"If a man talks shit then I owe him nothing."
Justin Bieber is the name that comes to mind when thinking of who's been talking shit. He inserted himself in the dispute by calling Taylor Swift a bully on Instagram in what may be the weirdest, most counterintuitive apology of all time. He always comes off as though he's being the bigger person when he really wasn't involved at all. And she's been nothing but cordial with him for years. They were never friends but she could have been far worse to him. And probably should have been considering how many times he destroyed her best friend's mental health. So, yeah, she doesn't owe him anything. Not a conversation to address things, and definitely not an apology.
18. "Look What You Made Me Do"
"But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time. Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time. I've got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined."
It wouldn't be surprising if "Look What You Made Me Do" was actually about Scott Borchetta this entire time. The dates line up with when the deals were being discussed, and he was the one holding the strings up until "reputation." It also wouldn't be surprising if the reason the old Taylor couldn't come to the phone was that she didn't just die, but that he was intent on killing her off by selling her out. And in time, he'll get whatever karma deals him and she'll trust fewer people. It already seems like she cares way less about who she brings down, which is why started naming names and taking direct shots. Everything is becoming more meticulous.
19. "Getaway Car"
"'X' marks the spot where we fell apart. He poisoned the well, I was lyin' to myself."
"Getaway Car" sends the message that Taylor Swift knows when to leave. She doesn't get very far riding with the wrong people. Sometimes that means escaping on your own, but it beats the alternative.
20. "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things"
"This is why we can't have nice things, darling. Because you break them, I had to take them away. This is why we can't have nice things, honey. Did you think I wouldn't hear all the things you said about me?"
Taylor Swift can't even have her own shit, let alone nice things. At least she's got people to back her up and who know that she's the only reason she's gotten where she is. The rest really doesn't matter.
21. "You Need To Calm Down"
"SNAKES AND STONES NEVER BROKE MY BONES!"
It's nice to know that Taylor Swift has ownership of the song that is arguably the biggest affirmation that anyone needs to know "she's got this." She can be damaged seven times, but she'll get up eight because she's better than anyone against her. She doesn't feed off of the negativity that gets everyone all riled up. She's found peace in whatever parts of her past with which people think they can haunt her.
22. "Long Live"
"You held your head like a hero on a history book page. It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age."
Taylor Swift is still the heroic force that stadiums of people cheer for. It doesn't matter who "owns" her work; it's her work. Her vulnerability is why it exists. And she's still the person who wrote all those words and sang them hundreds of times. She's the only person who can ever know what each line means. Scooter Braun may have it on paper, but Taylor Swift is the one with the passion and the fans. And that can't be bought and sold.