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Democrats using Taylor Swift’s catalogue woes as a campaign tool again

By | Published on Wednesday 6 October 2021

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s catalogue woes have become a political campaigning tool in Virginia, where an election takes place next month for the state’s next governor. Why? Because the Republican candidate in the election was previously co-CEO of private equity outfit The Carlyle Group, which financially backed Scooter Braun’s 2019 acquisition of Big Machine, and with it most of Swift’s masters.

Swift called Braun’s purchase of Big Machine her “worst case scenario”. Although she was no longer actively working with the label by 2019, it still controlled the rights in her first six albums. The musician claimed that Braun had bullied her over the years, and that therefore she was mortified that he and his Ithaca Holdings company now controlled most of her recordings catalogue.

The whole thing brought the ins and outs, and rights and wrongs, of record deals back into the spotlight, while also prompting Swift to start re-recording her old albums as soon as the re-record restrictions in her Big Machine record contract started to expire.

The musician also made specific reference to The Carlyle Group’s involvement in the Big Machine acquisition while ranting about the deal, meaning – alongside Braun and Big Machine – the private equity firm also felt the heat as Swift’s fans rallied to her cause. At the time, the FT reported how that had “left Carlyle employees nervous and questioning internally how they got involved in the spat”.

In the end, Braun sold on the Swift masters to another private equity outfit called Shamrock Holdings. That calmed things down a little, though didn’t stop the musician from proceeding with her big re-record project.

Anyway, back to Virginia, where polls have Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin pretty much neck and neck as campaigning continues ahead of next month’s governor election. McAuliffe is now hoping that Swift fans among the electorate might help him swing it.

In a new ad campaign targeting Swift fans in the state on Facebook and Instagram – and anyone who searches for the musician on Google – the Democrat is pushing out images of the pop star alongside Youngkin with the hashtag #WeStandWithTaylor.

It’s not the first time Democrats have sought to capitalise on Swift’s run in with private equity. At the time of the 2019 Big Machine acquisition, then Democrat presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren – a notable critic of Wall Street and the private equity sector – jumped on Swift’s big beef with Braun and his mates at The Carlyle Group.

She tweeted: “Unfortunately, Taylor Swift is one of many whose work has been threatened by a private equity firm. They’re gobbling up more and more of our economy, costing jobs and crushing entire industries. It’s time to rein in private equity firms – and I’ve got a plan for that”.

That didn’t help Warren win the Democrat nomination for last year’s Presidential election of course. Though maybe more Swift fans vote in actual elections than in the primaries, and this latest political attempt to utilise the musician’s catalogue woes will pay off for McAuliffe.