Taylor Swift and her former record label traded barbed accusations on Friday about her rights to perform her old songs, winning support from singers like Selena Gomez and Sara Bareilles but silence from many of the big hitters in the music business.
Swift, 29, one of the best-selling names in pop music, said on social media that her performance as “artist of the decade” at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 was “a question mark” because her old record label had refused permission for her to sing a medley of her old hits on the show.
Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville, Tennessee-based company that owns the master recordings of Swift’s back catalog, hit back on Friday, saying the singer was giving out “false information” and that the label has no right to limit her live performances.
Under her contract, Swift is not permitted to re-record material from her period with Big Machine until November 2020.
Singer-songwriter Bareilles tweeted that the move by Big Machine was “an outrageous abuse of power and completely unforgivable” while Gomez, a close friend of Swift, said in a social media post that she was “sick and extremely angry.”
Camila Cabello, Halsey and Tinashe also expressed support for Swift on Twitter but many other female stars, including Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Cardi B and Beyonce, were silent on Friday.
Swift signed with Big Machine at age 15, recording some of her biggest hits including “Shake it Off,” and “You Belong With Me,” but left last November for Universal Music Group, a unit of French conglomerate Vivendi.
Swift has taken her disputes with Big Machine public before. In June, she tweeted that she was “sad and grossed out” by the purchase of the independent label by Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. She also accused Braun of bullying her in the past.
In this week’s posts she accused Big Machine executives of exercising “tyrannical control” over her music, and said they also had denied permission for her old songs to be included in an upcoming Netflix documentary in the works.
Big Machine claimed in a statement that Swift owed them “millions of dollars and multiple assets.” That claim was denied by Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, who said in a statement that Big Machine owed Swift $7.9 million in unpaid royalties.
“Right now, my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark,” Swift wrote.
“The message being sent to me is very clear,” she added. “Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”