After the Big Machine deal cut by Braun — who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others — his Ithaca Holdings turned around and sold the Big Machine catalog to Shamrock Holdings, marking the second time in 17 months that ownership of Swift’s first six albums changed hands.
Braun said he wasn’t legally allowed to talk to any of the artists on the label while negotiating the deal and that he told Borchetta that, “if any of the artists want to come back and buy into this, you have to let me know.” He once again referred to a letter Borchetta later shared in public in which Swift — who Braun never refers to by name in the interview — is reported to have said that she didn’t want to “participate in my masters. ‘I’ve decided to, you know, not make this deal, blah, blah, blah.’ So that was the idea I was under,” Braun told Williams.
At the time of the first Big Machine deal, Swift lashed out at the sale to Braun, writing in a Tumblr post that she said learned of the pact “as it was announced to the world”; a source in Swift’s camp said at the time that they’d known about the acquisition for several days beforehand.
She wrote that the news immediately brought her back to “the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at [Braun’s] hands for years. Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
She called the acquisition her “worst case scenario,” claiming that Borchetta was well aware of her feelings about Braun.
For his part, Braun told Williams that he was “excited” to work with every Big Machine artist and that when the deal was finalized he began making calls to let the interested parties know he was part of it. “And before I could even do that – I made four phone calls… all hell broke loose,” he said, not specifying who the four calls were to. “So I think a lot of things got lost in translation. I think that when you have a conflict with someone, it’s very hard to resolve it if you’re not willing to have a conversation. So the regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone, once the deal was done, was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, great, let’s be in business together. And I made that assumption with people that I didn’t know.”
Braun said the “important lesson” he learned from that imbroglio is that he can “never make that assumption again. I can’t put myself in a place of, you know, arrogance to think that someone would just be willing to have a conversation and be excited to work with me. I don’t know these people.” That explains why he said that when he cut the deal to sell Ithaca Holdings to HYBE in April 2021 he took “50 million of my own stock… and I gave it to my employees and my artists.”
Because it is a publicly traded company, his effort was reported on and Braun said he was happy to now talk about how “everyone participated significantly,” even former employees, noting that he called up shareholders including longtime Bieber collaborator Poo Bear, as well as Bieber, Grande, Demi Lovato and J. Balvin to let them know about the HYBE deal.
“And everyone felt good, you know, and they could sell the stock if they want to. It’s worth real money. But I wanted them to feel good about it ’cause I learned that lesson,” Braun said. “So I choose to look at it as a learning lesson, a growing lesson, and I wish everyone involved well. And I’m rooting for everyone to win because I don’t believe in rooting for people to lose.”
Watch Braun’s interview below.