Why You Won’t Be Hearing Taylor Swift Songs In Movies, TV Shows, or Commercials Anytime Soon

Taylor Swift is singlehandedly shutting down the licensing of her valuable catalog for advertisements, TV, and movies — even though that could cost her millions.

Taylor Swift is now taking extreme measures to sabotage the recent $300 million sale of her catalog by former label Big Machine. Earlier today, the superstar revealed that she’s shutting down all synchronization licensing — which she still has veto power over.

The specific license, which still requires the approval of all songwriters and publishing owners, covers a vast number of uses, including commercials, TV shows, Hollywood films, and even online video uses.  As a credited songwriter on her catalog, Swift can simply deny any licensing application — which is exactly what’s happening here.

“Thankfully, there’s power in writing your music,” Swift gloated to Billboard. “Every week, we get a dozen synch requests to use ‘Shake It Off’ in some advertisement or ‘Blank Space’ in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them.”

“And the reason I’m re-recording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it.”

This is what shutting sh*t down looks like — and it’s already costing Scooter Braun and private equity firm Carlyle Group millions in the short term.

And, potentially hundreds of millions (if not billions) over the long term, depending on how this mess shakes out. It’s a brutal loophole, and just one way Swift is attempting to punish Braun, Carlyle, and Big Machine topper Scott Borchetta.

Looking ahead, industry attorneys are questioning whether Swift can legally re-record her music and attempt to supplant the copyright owners of her original masters.  Indeed, any attempts to replace or confuse copyright ownership would decimate Carlyle’s investment — which means a re-recording stunt could result in years of contentious litigation between both parties.

That’s not a problem for Swift, who thrives on playing the victim card — and rallying fans against the evil bullies.  But the all-consuming mess could have serious repercussions for Carlyle.  For starters, a protracted legal battle could force a lockdown in licensing for Braun and Carlyle, while severely damaging the value of their investment.

The sticky situation is undoubtedly causing some buyer’s remorse as the situation deteriorates. But Carlyle seems to be putting on a ‘what, me worry?’ act in the face of disaster.

“I’ve got every confidence in the world that it’s going to turn out to be a successful investment,” Carlyle Group co-CEO Kewsong Lee puffed on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street on Wednesday. It’s unlikely that someone of Lee’s sophistication is that delusional, though perhaps there’s a way to nullify the $300 million Big Machine deal for breach of blah-blah or failure to disclose blah?  

It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened…

More as this develops.

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    well that will be a nice break from hearing that horrible corporate shit. heres an idea, own your rights from the start and struggle without the corporate driven millions in your pocket. No one asked u to sign your shit away to begin with, you did it yourself. Wake up and enjoy your money you wouldn’t have if you made your own shit and owned your rights from the start. that simple

  2. Chard

    All the speculation about how this impacts Carlyle is uninformed. Unless you know the amounts of the other non-deniable income streams (like performance and mechanicals), you can’t judge the deal as successful or unsuccessful. Taylor is by no means the first artist to re-record her masters or use the leverage of being the (or a) songwriter to try to monopolize the sync money. Sometimes it works (Stevie Winwood) sometimes it doesn’t (any of the artists who don’t pull off the re-records well, where everyone loses). Obviously the terms work better with sync but if they were smart in how they valued the catalog, they’re not necessarily unhappy.

  3. Chard

    Sorry, intended to include (, sales & streaming) after the performance and mechanicals bit…

  4. Kar

    You go girl! Fight for what you want. Taylor Swift has the support both financially and physically to get back what she owns. The greed of Big Machine is what has them shaking. They should have saved themselves the hassle and sold her rights back to her.