On Thursday, Braun, in his first public remarks about the situation since it began six months ago, called for “communication” with Swift, who has been wrapped up in an increasingly bitter back-and-forth with Big Machine Record Label, which, as of this summer, is owned by Braun’s company.
“I haven’t talked about this in six months, not once…and that’s hard,” Braun said on stage at The Hollywood Chamber’s 2019 State of the Entertainment Industry Conference. “It’s hard because when there’s a lot of things being said, and a lot of different opinions, yet the principals haven’t had a chance to speak to each other, there’s a lot of confusion.”
Indeed, Braun and Swift would seemingly have a lot to talk about.
The saga began in July, when the singer’s early music catalog was sold to a company owned by Braun in a deal worth roughly $300 million, according to Billboard.
Swift called the agreement a “worst case scenario” upon its announcement. Her discontent split members of the music community, with each party finding their defenders.
“The only good thing for me is that when you get knocked down on some stuff, you get to find out who your real friends are real quick,” Braun, who never mentioned Swift by name, said. “And watching some people in the industry who, you know, might smile in your face and then suddenly you’ve got a little dent in the armor and they come try to kick it in even more. It doesn’t bother me, but it just lets me know where I stand.”
Swift had been signed to Big Machine from her 2006 self-titled debut album through 2017’s “Reputation,” before signing with Universal Music Group.
The sale prevents Swift from owning the first six albums in her catalog, but she has said she plans to re-record it.
Last week, Swift once again took issue with Braun and the company, claiming in a social media post that they had denied her request to play some of her early songs at the upcoming American Music Awards, where she is being honored as artist of the decade, “because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year,” Swift wrote.
In a statement to CNN, Big Machine Records denied that the company has prevented Swift from performing at the AMAs or blocked her music from an in-the-works Netflix special, saying “Taylor, the narrative you have created does not exist. All we ask is to have a direct and honest conversation.”
“When that happens, you will see there is nothing but respect, kindness and support waiting for you on the other side,” the statement read in part. “We share the collective goal of giving your fans the entertainment they both want and deserve.”
In a later statement, Big Machine said that a licensing agreement had been reached that would leave Swift and other contracted artists looking to perform at the American Music Awards or elsewhere completely in the clear to do so. The company’s approval had not been needed for live performances itself but rather distribution of audio and video recordings of those performances, Big Machine said.
On Thursday, Braun declined to go into further detail “because it’s just not my style” but called for an end to the public airing of grievances.
“I just think we live in a time of toxic division and people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out each other and not have conversations. I don’t like politicians doing it; I don’t like anybody doing it. And if that means that I’ve got to be the bad guy longer, I’ll be the bad guy longer, but I’m not going to participate,” he said. What I’ll say is I think people need to communicate and when people are able to communicate, I think they work things out.”
Braun’s interview, conducted by Variety’s Shirley Halperin, was the headline event of the conference.
“I think that these problems that are being discussed can be discussed behind closed doors and figured out pretty easily. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for six months,” he said. “I just think it’s gotten out of hand.”
He added: “I think people need to come together and have a conversation because that’s not what this is about. It’s not what we got in this industry for.”