What is going on with Taylor Swift, her back catalogue and Justin Bieber?

Taylor Swift is back in the headlines after denouncing the sale of her back catalogue. One Guardian Australia staffer asked another to explain this celebrity omnishambles … quickly

I was still absorbing the takes on Taylor Swift’s new music video when suddenly she’s in the news for entirely different reasons, and #WeStandwithTaylor is trending. What’s going on?

Keep up, Jo. Swift has reignited old feuds and given us some new ones by responding to the sale of her former record label Big Machine – and, by extension, her six-album back catalogue – to the talent manager Scooter Braun.

Braun previously represented Swift’s nemeses Kanye West – surely I don’t need to explain that – and Justin Bieber.

In a lengthy Tumblr post describing the sale as “the worst case scenario”, Swift accused Braun of years of bullying and claimed the label’s former owner, Scott Borchetta, “knew what he was doing” in selling to her nemesis.

“Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to,” she wrote. “He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.”

In the post, Swift accused Braun of being complicit in the on again, off again feuds with West and Bieber, even linking him to the infamous leaked recording of a phone call in which she appeared to endorse, at least partially, her name-check on the West track Famous.

“Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she wrote.

“Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy,” she wrote. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”

To illustrate her point, she included a screenshot of Braun, Bieber and West that Bieber posted to Instagram in 2016 with the caption “taylor swift what up”.

Her fans are backing her – hence the #WeStandwithTaylor.

The whole thing has, perhaps predictably, prompted takes. Cara Delevigne is involved!

Am I supposed to know who Scooter Braun is?

You might not know him, but people you know know him, you know? Braun owns SB Projects, a talent agency that represents people like Bieber, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, David Guetta and Usher.

It was Braun who helped Bieber go from pre-teen YouTuber into, you know, Bieber. He’s also responsible for making Psy’s Gangnam Style a global phenomenon, which says it all, really.

Right. So Bieber’s now thrown in too?

Yes. Bieber responded by posting an old photo of he and Swift together at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards (aw). Then, in a long caption freed from the strictures of conventional grammar, gave Swift a heavy dose of “sorry, but”.

He apologised for the “hurtful Instagram post” saying Braun had “nothing to do with it”, but also accused Swift of trying to garner sympathy and seeking to “get people to hate on scooter”.

“What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter,” he wrote.

“Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you. I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont believe solves anything.

“Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character that’s crossing a line.”

Ugh that sounds like classic gaslighting. Even though Sorry is an all-time banger, Beiber kinda seems like a jerk.

It’s like you want him to be perfect.

Have Braun or Borchetta responded?

Braun has (so far) stayed silent, but his wife Yael Braun defended him on Instagram, saying he was “anything but a bully” and that “he cannot control the behaviour of other humans, even ones he manages”.

In a statement titled “so, it’s time for some truth” released late on Sunday in the US, Borchetta said that the singer’s father, Scott Swift, was a shareholder in the record company and had been notified a week before the sale occurred.

“Out of courtesy, I personally texted Taylor at 9:06pm, Saturday, June 29th to inform her prior to the story breaking on the morning of Sunday, June 30th so she could hear it directly from me,” he said.

He also said Swift had been offered control of her back catalogue before she left the record company in November last year.

He included what he claimed was a text message from Swift telling him she was leaving the company in which she apparently wrote: “Owning my masters was very important to me, but I’ve since realized that there are things that mean even more to me in the bigger picture. I had a choice whether to bet on my past or to bet on the future and I think knowing me, you can guess which one I chose.”

It gets a little messy here because Swift, in her Tumblr post, said that she had “pleaded” for control of her back catalogue but was offered a deal in which she could “earn” back an album for each new album she released.

“I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future,” she wrote.

Anyway tl;dr Swift is being plagued by the receipts again.

OK but why is Cara Delevigne involved?

Everyone is involved, Jo. Delevigne, the British model and actor, weighed in by commenting on Bieber’s post that he should be “lifting women up instead of tearing them down because you are threatened”.

Other artists, including Halsey and the band Haim, also came to Swift’s defence.

Does this also mean the Kim-Kanye-Taylor feud is back on?

At the time of writing, KimYe have yet to weigh in. I really need to stress, though, at the time of writing.

This is quite the celebrity omnishambles. I think on second thoughts I would like to be excluded from this narrative.

🐍

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Michael McGowan explains it to Josephine Tovey

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