Confirmed: Taylor Swift masters sold by Scooter Braun to Shamrock – but she’s re-recording them anyway

Patrick Russo, Shamrock Capital

Back in July, MBW reported that Shamrock Capital had raised $400m in a new fund – and that it intended to spend this money on entertainment IP, including music copyrights.

Looks like it just splashed the majority of it on Taylor Swift’s back catalog.

Swift herself has confirmed that Shamrock is the mystery buyer to have acquired the master rights to Swift’s first six albums from Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings.

Those rights were last year sold to Ithaca as part of its $330m acquisition of BMLG (Big Machine Label Group).

Swift’s masters have now been sold again, by Ithaca to Shamrock Capital (a successor company to Shamrock Holdings), for a price in the region of $300m.

Addressing her fans on social media in the past hour, Swift wrote: “As you know, for the past year I’ve been actively trying to regain ownership of my master recordings. With that goal in mind, my team attempted to enter into negotiations with Scooter Braun.

“Scooter’s team wanted me to sign an ironclad NDA stating I would never say another word about Scooter Braun unless it was positive, before we could even look at the financial records of BMLG (which is always the first step in a purchase of this nature).

“So, I would have to sign a document that would silence me forever before I could even have a chance to bid on my own work. My legal team said that this is absolutely NOT normal, and they’ve never seen an NDA like this presented unless it was to silence an assault accuser by paying them off a He would never even quote my team a price. These master recordings were not for sale to me.”

Added Swift: “A few weeks ago my team received a letter from a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings, letting us know that they had bought 100% of my music, videos, and album art from Scooter Braun. This was the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge. The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that
they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off.

“As soon as we started communication with Shamrock, I learned that under their terms Scooter Braun will continue to profit off my old musical catalog for many years. I was hopeful and open to the possibility of a partnership with Shamrock, but Scooter’s participation is a non-starter for me.”

“I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling.”

Taylor Swift

Swift then confirmed that, despite the Shamrock sale, she will be pressing ahead with her plans to re-record the masters from her first six albums – something she has been legally free to do from this month (November 2020) onwards.

“I have recently begun re-recording my older music and it has already proven to be both exciting and creatively fulfilling,” wrote Swift. “I have plenty of surprises in store I want to thank you guys for supporting me through this ongoing saga, and I can’t wait for you to hear what I’ve been dreaming up. I love you guys and I’m just gonna keep cruising, as they say.”

Swift also showed her fans a letter she sent to Shamrock Capital on October 28, 2020.

It is addressed to “Patrick, Jason and Laura” – where Patrick is presumably Patrick Russo, a Partner at Shamrock Capital who has previously led the firm’s music-facing activities.

Swift writes in the letter: “I was thrilled with the idea of working with people who value art and understand how much my life’s work means to me. I immediately began to plan all the ways we could work together on expanding and protecting my music while maximizing the outcomes for all involved, especially my fans. So, regardless of the fact that it was the second time my masters have been sold without my knowledge while I was actively trying to purchase them, your letter brought me a great deal of hope for my musical legacy and our possible future together.

“This is why I was so disappointed when I learned that under the terms of your acquisition, Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings would continue to receive many years of future financial reward from my music masters, music videos, and album artwork. If I support you, as you request, I will be contributing to these future payments to Scooter Braun and Ithaca Holdings. I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefiting Scooter Braun’s interests directly or indirectly.

“I simply cannot in good conscience bring myself to be involved in benefiting Scooter Braun’s interests directly or indirectly.”

Taylor Swift

“As a result, I cannot currently entertain being partners with you. It’s a shame to know that I will now be unable to help grow the future of these past works and it pains me very deeply to remain separated from the music I spent over a decade creating, but this is a sacrifice I will have to make to keep Scooter Braun out of my life. I’m very sorry he has put you in this position. I wish this could have had a better outcome and please do let me know if your firm is ever completely independent from Scooter Braun and his associates.”

Adds Swift: “I feel the need to be very transparent with you. I will be going forward with my original re-recording schedule and will be embarking on that effort soon. I know this will diminish the value of my old masters, but I hope you will understand that this is my only way of regaining the sense of pride I once had when hearing songs from my first six albums and also allowing my fans to listen to those albums without feelings of guilt for benefiting Scooter.”

Before its $400m raise earlier this year, Shamrock raised $250m in 2016 to spend on IP across movies, TV, music publishing, recorded music, video games and more.

This fund, the Shamrock Capital Content Fund, now holds an interest in more than 800 films, 1,000 television episodes, and 5,000 music compositions.

Perhaps the biggest headline for music that emerged from this fund came in 2018, when Shamrock acquired a music publishing catalog owned by Stargate – the writers behind hits for Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and more.Music Business Worldwide

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