Three years after he purchased the master rights to Taylor Swift's early music, Scooter Braun said he wishes that transaction could have gone down differently.
On Wednesday, the music mogul chatted with Jay Williams for NPR's "The Limits With Jay Williams." During the near-40-minute conversation, Braun recalled acquiring Big Machine, Swift's former label, and her master recordings by way of that purchase. The 2019 acquisition then evolved into a larger, public conflict that prompted conversation about ownership and rights within the music industry.
When Williams asked Braun if he would go back in time for a do-over of that acquisition, Braun said, "Yes."
"I learned an important lesson from that," he said.
Braun, who merged his Ithaca Holdings with BTS label owner HYBE for $1 billion in 2021, said there was a lack of communication between him, Big Machine and its roster of artists.
"I was under a very strict NDA with the gentleman who owned it, and I couldn't tell any artist. I wasn't allowed to, I wasn't legally allowed to," he said. "What I told him was, 'Hey, if any of the artists want to come back and buy into this, you have to let me know.'"
The longtime manager, who has worked with talent including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, said he was "excited to work with the artists on the label" and began calling musicians. That was right before "all hell broke loose," he said.
The same day Braun's Big Machine acquisition was official, Swift called the transaction "my worst case scenario." In a Tumblr post, Swift put Braun on blast for "the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years."
"Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy," she wrote. "Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it."
Looking back on Swift's response in 2022, Braun said he thinks "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," he added. "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.'"
Braun said he learned the "important lesson" not to assume that artists will be fully on board to collaborate.
"I can't put myself in a place of arrogance to think that someone would just be willing to have a conversation, be excited to work with me," he said. "I don't know these people."
Three years removed from the 2019 conflict with Swift, Braun said he "didn't appreciate how that all went down" and added that he sees how the situation was unfair to both parties.
"I choose to look at it as a learning lesson, a growing lesson, and I wish everyone involved well," he said. "I'm rooting for everyone to win because I don't believe in rooting for people to lose."
Swift alleged Braun had bullied her through Bieber and former client Kanye West and their social media posts, and through leaks of sensitive information. Braun told Variety last year that Swift's reaction was "very confusing and not based on anything factual."
Since losing her master recordings to Braun, Swift has embarked on a campaign to rerecord her catalog. Since the 2019 drama, she has released "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" and "Red (Taylor's Version)."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.