Taylor Swift calls out Scooter Braun, George Soros, and 'toxic male privilege' in the music industry in powerful Woman of the Decade speech
The singer, who turned 30 on Friday, became the first recipient of Billboard's Woman of the Decade award.
In a powerful speech delivered at the Billboard's Women in Music 2019 event at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, Taylor Swift addressed a series of issues, and also called Scooter Braun along with billionaire financier George Soros.
The singer, who turned 30 on December 13, became the first recipient of Billboard's Woman of the Decade award. Introduced by 'The Good Place' star Jameela Jamil, Swift delivered a speech that was nothing along of the lines of the usual award show acceptance speeches. In a 14-minute-long speech, Swift called out the institutionalized sexism she has witnessed in the industry over the last decade throughout her career, and unfair business practices particularly in light of Braun, who bought her music from former label Big Machine Records without her knowledge.
"When this decade began I was 20 years old, and I had put out my self-titled debut album when I was 16, and then the album that would become my breakthrough album, which was called 'Fearless'," she said. "And I saw that there was a world of music and experience beyond country music that I was really curious about. I saw pop stations send my songs, 'Love Story' and 'You Belong With Me,' to No. 1 for the first time. And I saw that as a female in this industry, some people will always have slight reservations about you."
She called out the different ways in which women artists are treated in the music industry. "I saw that people love to explain away a woman's success in the music industry, and I saw something in me change due to this realization. This was the decade when I became a mirror for my detractors. Whatever they decided I couldn't do is exactly what I did," she said.
In her speech, she also continued to offer her support for Lana Del Rey as the "most influential artist in pop" - how she suffered through criticism yet continued to make art. "And that example should inspire all of us, that the only way forward is forward motion," Swift said of Del Rey, "that we shouldn't let obstacles like criticism slow down the creative forces that drive us."
The Grammy winner brought to fore the benefits and issues surrounding music streaming and how she fought for artists to receive higher compensation. She pointed out that the unregulated world of private equity and how they can purchase an artist's entire catalog.
She pointed out how Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings was able to purchase her catalog without approval, consultation or consent after she was denied the right to purchase the catalog herself. In the same breath also attacked billionaire liberal financier George Soros for funding Braun's multi-million dollar deal.
She is reported to have said: "After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in a deal that I’m told was funded by the Soros family, 23 Capital and the Carlyle Group. This just happened to me without my approval, consultation or consent,” she said claiming that the 'unregulated world of private equity' was coming in and 'buying our music as if it’s real estate, as if it’s an app or a shoe line'.
Swift didn't let Braun's supporters off the hook either. "Scooter never contacted me or my team to discuss it prior to the sale or even when it was announced. I'm fairly certain he knew exactly how I would feel about it though and let me just say that the definition of the toxic male privilege in our industry is people saying, 'but he's always been nice to me,' when I'm raising valid concerns about artists and their rights to own their music," Swift said. "Of course he's nice to you. If you're in this room, you have something that he needs."
"The fact is that private equity is what enabled this man to think according to his own social media post that he could buy me, but I'm obviously not going willingly."
She ended her speech by encapsulating her career and thanking fans. "Lately I've been focusing less on doing what they say I can't do and more on doing whatever the hell I want. Thank you for a magnificent, happy, free, confused, sometimes lonely, but mostly golden decade