Front Burner

What the Taylor Swift controversy tells us about who really profits from recording artists' work

Today on Front Burner, Emily Yahr from the Washington Post, breaks down the feud between pop superstar Taylor Swift and music mogul Scooter Braun, and explains why some of the most successful recording artists in the world don't own their music.
In a Saturday, June 1, 2019 file photo, Taylor Swift performs at Wango Tango, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. In a scathing tumblr post Sunday, June 30, the pop superstar writes she is sad and grossed out that her music catalog now belongs to Scooter Braun who she accuses of subjecting her to years of incessant and manipulative bullying. Braun’s Ithaca Holdings announced Sunday that it is acquiring Big Machine Label Group which released all of Swift’s studio albums and owns her masters. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/The Associated Press)
Listen to the full episode21:17

This weekend, pop superstar Taylor Swift penned a distraught Tumblr post in which she took the news of a business deal very, very personally. Her former record label, Big Machine, was sold to music mogul Scooter Braun's company for a reported $300 million US. The acquisition essentially hands Braun control of Swift's masters from her entire back catalogue. She claims this is her "worst case scenario," as she accuses Braun of "incessant, manipulative bullying." Today on Front Burner, Emily Yahr, pop culture reporter with the Washington Post, breaks down the origin of this feud, and explains why some of most successful recording artists in the world are powerless when it comes to owning their own music.

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