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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 3 hours ago - World

American men plead guilty to helping former Nissan chair escape Japan

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chair, during a news conference in Jounieh, Lebanon, last September. Photo: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor pleaded guilty in a Tokyo court Monday to helping former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn escape Japan in a box aboard a plane in 2019, per the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Ghosn was awaiting trial in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges following his 2018 arrest when he fled to Lebanon. He denies any wrongdoing.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Former White House counsel Don McGahn leaves Capitol Hill after a closed-door meeting with the House Judiciary Committee on June 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice secretly subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Victim dies after downtown Austin mass shooting

Police barricades near the scene of a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

A 25-year-old man died Sunday of injuries sustained in a mass shooting that wounded 13 other people in downtown Austin, Texas, the previous day, police confirmed.

The latest: Austin police named the victim as Douglas John Kantor, as they continued to search for one of two suspects. One suspect was taken into custody on Saturday following the shooting on 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants.