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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Private equity now owns Taylor Swift's back catalog — and she isn't happy about it.

The state of play: Ithaca, a media holding company led by Scooter Braun, announced that it has acquired Big Machine Label Group, which has released each of her albums thus far. Under terms of the deal, which was partially financed by The Carlyle Group and is said to be valued north of $300 million, Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta will continue to run the label, hold a minority stake in Ithaca, and join its board.

  • Big Machine was not one of the labels in which Ithaca already had a stake, per a source familiar with the situation.

Flashback:

  • 2017: Carlyle invests in Ithaca, best known for managing such artists as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Kanye West. It also quietly held minority stakes in many of the country's largest music management companies.
  • 2018: Swift decides to leave Big Machine, whose other artists include Florida Georgia Line and Rascal Flatts, to sign with Universal Music Group. Big Machine's final offer to keep her apparently included a reversion of Swift's master recordings to her.

After news of the deal broke, Swift put everyone involved on blast.

  • She wrote on Tumblr that she learned of the deal via the public announcement, and that she believed Braun has "bullied" her in the past.
"When I left my masters in Scott's hands, I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter. Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words 'Scooter Braun' escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them."

The other side: Braun didn't return a request for comment, and thus far has kept quiet outside of retweeting someone (unrelated) who wrote that "context is everything." Braun's wife, however, did reply via Instagram. So did Bieber. Both of them claim Swift has some of her facts wrong.

  • Borchetta writes that he texted Swift about the deal on Saturday night as a heads-up, and that her father should — or at least could — have been aware weeks earlier as a Big Machine shareholder. He also disputed Swift's depiction of the masters reversion proposal and negotiations, including some document photos and email conversations.

The bottom line: Yesterday morning, this was an interesting music industry deal, furthering the power and influence of a PE-backed holding company that most music-lovers have never heard of. Today, it's a PR debacle and, in music management, relationships are everything. In other words, don't be surprised to eventually see an amicable resolution.

Go deeper: Taylor Swift inks Universal Music Group mega-deal

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.