The woods can be shady, and Taylor Swift seemingly threw some towards Scooter Braun on her song, ‘My Tears Ricochet,’ which definitely has some parallels to her feud with the record exec.
Though Taylor Swift, 30, appeared to be pivoting towards a more woodsy, low-key vibe on her new folklore album, she still found time to cast some shade on her biggest music industry rival, Scooter Braun. One year after Scooter, 39, bought the rights to Taylor’s first six albums, Taylor got a modicum of revenge on the track “My Tears Ricochet.” The haunting song is about an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession,” according to Taylor.
The one lyric that has fans convinced that the ‘tormentor’ in the song is Scooter is, “And when you can’t sleep at night you hear my stolen lullabies.” Swifties have deduced that the ‘stolen lullabies’ are a reference to the six albums of songs that Scooter purchased from Taylor’s former record label, Big Machine, for $300 million in 2019. Other lyrics from the song include, “Even on my worst day, did I deserve, babe, all the hell you gave me?” and “Cursing my name, wishing I stayed.”
The ‘wishing I stayed’ lyric seems to be a reference to Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine after the drama with Scooter, as well as the label’s head, Scott Borchetta. More lyrics also appear to reference this move, as Taylor sings, “I can go anywhere I want, anywhere I want, just not home,” and “You’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain, crossing out the good years.”
Even before Scooter acquired the rights to Taylor’s music, there was bad blood between them due to his professional and personal relationships with Justin Bieber and Kanye West. However, their feud escalated when Scooter’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Scott’s Big Machine Label Group in June 2019. The deal, reportedly valued at $300 million, meant Scooter now owned the rights to Taylor’s first six albums, and she did not take that well.
In a lengthy Tumblr post, Taylor accused Scooter of getting “his two clients [Justin and Kanye] together to bully me online” and that him owning her life’s work was something out of her “worst nightmares.” Justin, for his part, apologized for the “hurtful Instagram post” that she cited in her Tumblr statement. Biebs also defended his friend and manager, saying that Scooter “has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you” and that it wasn’t “fair” that she’d vent her frustrations on “social media [to] get people to hate on Scooter.”
The feud would escalate that following November when Taylor publicly accused Scooter/BMLG of blocking her from performing her old music at the 2019 American Music Awards, an event that would also honor her as Artist of the Decade. She also accused them of denying the use of her old music in the Netflix documentary, 2020’s Miss Americana. The label responded by saying they “do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere,” and that they “have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record [Lover].” Taylor’s team shot back, saying that Big Machine’s statement “never actually [denies] either claim Taylor said last night in her post.”
Taylor would begin her 2019 AMA performance wearing an oversized shirt that bore the names of her first six albums. After shedding the garment, she would sing a medley of her old hits, including “Love Story,” “Shake It Off,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “Blank Space.”
Scooter spoke about the drama for the first time at the 2019 Entertainment Industry Conference at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Without mentioning Taylor by name, he criticized the use of “social media” as an “appropriate place to air out at each other and not have conversations.” He would then issue a public statement to Taylor days later, claiming that his “attempts and calls to have an open discussion with you over the last six months have been rejected. He then suggested that she has “no interest in ever resolving the conflict. …with safety becoming a concern, I have no choice other than to publicly ask for us to come together and try to find a resolution.”
Things remained quiet between Taylor and Scooter/BLMG until April 2020. Taylor posted an IG Story blasting her former record label for “putting out an ‘album’ of live performances…[this] recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was 18. … It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers, 23 Capital, Alex Sorors and the Soros family and The Carlyle Group have seen the latest balance sheets and realized that paying $330 MILLION for my music wasn’t exactly a wise choice and they need money…just another case of shameless greed in the time of Coronavirus.”