Scooter Braun gave a new interview (to Variety) this week, with the billion-dollar dealmaker and record exec going on in length about his partnership with Korean record label Hybe, his long-time relationship with artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, and his thoughts on a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. (No, really; they asked!) None of which anyone is likely to have paid especially large amounts of notice to, since they were presumably speed-scrolling through the entire conversation looking for the part where Braun talked about Taylor Swift.
Braun’s public narrative has been inextricably linked to Swift’s star for a few years now, ever since the Red artist let it be known how unhappy she was that the exec—who managed Kanye West during many of the heights of his “Screwing with Taylor Swift” career—had purchased the master recordings of her first six albums when he bought her former label Big Machine Records. Notably, Swift was decidedly un-shy about mobilizing her fanbase to pressure Braun into selling her the rights to her music back—which, Braun swears, he tried to do.
“All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual,” Braun said in the interview. “I don’t know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused. I offered to sell her the catalog back and went under NDA, but her team refused. It all seems very unfortunate…I find her to be an incredibly talented artist and wish her nothing but the best.”
All of which, weirdly, tracks more closely than you might expect with what Swift herself said about the attempted deal on Twitter last year. The major difference in the stories stretches back to that NDA Braun mentioned in passing—Swift says that it was incredibly restrictive, and would have basically banned her from saying anything negative about Braun ever again, just to get a seat at the negotiating table. (The Variety interview doesn’t touch on the terms of the agreement, but does note that Braun’s team swears that negotiations had begun in earnest when talks broke down.) The NDA was the non-starter in Swift’s version of events, and so dramatically a non-starter that she went on to refuse business dealings with the private equity firm that ended up buying the masters from Braun, since that deal involved the exec getting a cut of future profits from her songs.
It remains to be seen whether this latest bit of press will shake off Braun’s sole public identity as “that guy who Taylor Swift hates.” (He noted that he’s especially unhappy about having been labeled a “bully” in the exchange.) Swift, meanwhile, is now nearly two albums into her (Taylor’s Version) initiative, in which she re-records all of her old albums to re-capture them from outside control so that this sort of thing never happens again.