There must be nothing in the world as bone-chilling as finding that you’ve become one of Taylor Swift’s enemies. Plenty of celebrities can mobilize fans to harass people or companies, but Swift doesn’t even need to. She just sits back and waits for you to be hoisted by your own petard…at which point she’ll toss in a few more petards for good measure, ensuring that your hosting will be felt for generations. Today, Swift has set her sights on a familiar target: her former label Big Machine Records and its new owner Scooter Braun, who she’s been feuding with ever since Braun (the man who was allegedly whispering in Kanye West’s ear when he did all of the stuff that he and Swift fought over) paid a huge amount of cash for Big Machine and control of all of the music Swift recorded before last year’s Lover.
This time around, the issue is that a listing for a new Taylor Swift live album, Live From Clear Channel 2008, started popping up on streaming services and digital stories recently. Fans reached out to Swift to see what was up, and she revealed that the live album is a recording she did when she was 18 that Braun and Big Machine are now preparing to release without her approval. Swift dropped this reveal in a predictably scathing post on Instagram Stories—meaning it was only for her true fans and anyone willing to sign up for Instagram and figure out how to access Instagram Stories—in which she theorizes that Braun and the other financial backers that helped him scrounge up $330 million for control of her back catalog (including “the Soros family and The Carlyle Group) have “seen the latest balance sheets” and realized that they need to start making a return on their enormous investment.
She also says that the idea of quietly releasing this “new” album without her approval (which, to be fair, Braun does not legally need to obtain) in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is “another case of shameless greed” that is “so tasteless, but very transparent.” Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out that this kind of passionate defense of her art and her autonomy as an artist is very good for Swift’s brand and her reputation as someone who will fight anyone who tries to take advantage of her. We’re not saying Swift is putting on a little kayfabe for the folks at home and isn’t as upset about this as her message suggests, we’re just saying that we get it.