Taylor Swift Goes After The Carlyle Group in Record Label Dispute

The pop star is “especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money” for the sale of most of her music catalogue.

Taylor Swift (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Taylor Swift

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

A private equity giant has been brought into an escalating dispute between Taylor Swift and her former record label over most of the pop star’s music catalogue.

In a statement posted on social media Thursday night, Swift called on the Carlyle Group for “help” after she was allegedly blocked from performing her old songs on television, or using them in a Netflix documentary. The private equity firm is a minority investor in Ithaca Holdings, the media holding company which acquired Swift’s former label Big Machine Records — and with it, the rights to her past album recordings — in June. Swift’s back catalogue, which includes five platinum albums and diamond-certified “Fearless,” is widely considered to be Big Machine’s most valuable asset.

Swift decried the deal on social media at the time of the sale, calling it her “worst case scenario” because Ithaca Holdings is owned by music executive Scooter Braun, who Swift accused of “incessant, manipulative bullying.”

Now, Swift claims that Big Machine and Ithaca are preventing her from performing her old songs at the American Music Awards on November 24, where Swift is expected to accept an “Artist of the Decade Award.”

Swift additionally alleged that Braun and Big Machine founder and CEO Scott Borchetta have declined to license songs or old performance footage for an upcoming Netflix documentary about Swift’s life.

“Scott Borchetta told my team that they’ll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree to not re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I’m both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun,” Swift said in the statement. “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”


In the statement, Swift called on her expansive fanbase to mobilize on her behalf against Braun and Borchetta. “I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men,” she added. It is unclear what specifically Swift wants the private equity firm to do. (The Carlyle Group helped finance the Big Machine acquisition through an equity investment by its Carlyle Partners VI fund, according to a June statement.)

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In response, fans have sent a barrage of messages on Twitter to the private equity firm’s account, @OneCarlyle, posts that have ranged from pleas for help to curse-filled insults. As of early Friday afternoon, a Change.org petition directed at Borchetta, Braun, and the Carlyle Group had nearly 80,000 signatures.

A spokesperson for the Carlyle Group declined to comment. Big Machine, for its part, has released a statement claiming that Swift was circulating “false information.”

“At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special,” the company said. “The truth is, Taylor has admitted to contractually owing millions of dollars and multiple assets to our company.”

According to the Big Machine statement, the record label group has sought to find a “private and mutually satisfactory solution” to the conflict with Swift, who instead “made a unilateral decision last night to enlist her fanbase in a calculated manner that greatly affects the safety of our employees and their families.”

Thursday’s statement by Swift is not the first time that the pop star has publicly gone after a major corporation. Back in 2014, Swift pulled her music from Spotify, saying in interviews that she did not think the streaming service “fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music.” The following year, Swift took to social media platform Tumblr to criticize Apple for plans to not pay royalties for music streamed during three-month free trials of its streaming service Apple Music.

Apple, in response, agreed to pay the royalties.