Sunday, November 17, 2019

Taylor Swift's Plea for Help Tests Carlyle Cool

Music superstar Taylor Swift has been blocked from using older songs and video in her upcoming American Music Awards appearance.  The Independent wrote:

“I’ve been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the American Music Awards,” she wrote, adding that Braun and Borchetta “said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.”
This continues the ongoing bullying of Swift by Big Machine, which purchased Swift's music with funds from The Carlyle Group. 

Swift is being honoured with the Artist of the Decade trophy at the AMAs, which take place on 24 November.
An investor might view this award as adding to the value of their music holdings in Taylor Swift.

The artist is explicitly seeking help from Carlyle.  CNBC reported.

“I’m especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group, who put up money for the sale of my music to these two men.”
The Carlyle Group declined comment on the CNBC story.  Bloomberg reported:

"Taylor Swift’s feud with her record label reveals a little-known fact about the entertainment business: the outsized role private equity plays in funding its biggest stars.Swift asked Carlyle Group in a tweet on Thursday to help her as she battles to secure ownership of albums she recorded with her previous label.  The pop star didn’t criticize Carlyle, only appealing for its help. But her conspicuous mention of the company put a spotlight on an industry her legions of young fans normally wouldn’t have reason to pay attention to. Google searches for Carlyle Group surged after her tweet."
Which cool Carlyle side will they show?  So far it's been the cool, arrogant, disconnected, aloof, greedy side.  That could change.

The public face of Carlyle is co-founder David Rubenstein.  Swift could appeal directly to her fellow rap star.

Rubenstein met with other music legends in the past.  Take Dr. Dre. 

Carlyle Cool could be at risk.  Think Beats, Golden Goose and Supreme.  Carlyle owned Beats for less than a year, making huge money flipping the company to Apple.

Carlyle wants to flip Golden Goose Deluxe Brands, maker of luxury sneakers.

I'd venture these sneakers are popular in entertainment circles.  Does Taylor have a pair of Golden Goose Superstars (retail price $1,770)?  If so, she has options.

Carlyle invested in Supreme, the epitome of urban skater cool.  Esquire is concerned that Carlyle's past profits from death could rub off on Supreme.

Styles can change in a heartbeat, especially under the direction of a pop-star with millions of fans.  How many appearances does David Rubenstein have in the next week?  Will any enterprising reporters ask for Carlyle to respond to Taylor Swift's request?  Carlyle cool is at risk in a way they've never experienced.

Millions of teens could hate The Carlyle Group overnight.  Their parents will surely hear of Carlyle's cruelty to their favorite musician.  These are the very people Carlyle wants to sell retirement investment products in the coming years.   Carlyle spent decades building its good name.  It might swiftly evaporate.

Update 11-28-19:  NYT reported Carlyle intervened to get the parties to a longer term agreement, one that jumps Carlyle's ROE hurdle.

Update 12-9-19:  Rubenstein told Fox News Maria Bartiromo "In that particular case, I do think there'll be a resolution of that in the near future.  Hopefully, [Swift] can continue to do very good music, but it's something that is more complicated than my being able to resolve it right here."  Rubenstein wants to make Beats like money off of Taylor Swift.

Update 12-15-19:  Swift called out Carlyle in her Billboard Women in Music acceptance speech for Woman of the Decade Award. Swift said that “private equity is what enabled this man, according to his own social media post, that he could ‘buy me,’” before adding, “[I’m] obviously not going willingly.”

Update 6-6-20:  Streetwear retailer Supreme is under fire for its connections to The Carlyle Group, given Carlyle's history in war making and oppressing peaceful protesters.  The article stated "including ownership of Combined Tactical Systems, a company that (as MC suggests) “specializes in the manufacture of military and police equipment such as tear gas canisters, flash grenades, breaching munitions (rubber bullets), and handcuffs.” 

Update 4-12-21:  Swift re-released her Fearless album.  Loyal fans are burying the old versions on Spotify.

Following Friday's midnight release of Fearless (Taylor's Version) — for which Swift re-recorded her music after failing to acquire the rights to her early albums two years ago — Swifties launched a campaign to bury the Big Machine version on Spotify.
Hopefully the unnamed investment firm can claw-back money from Ithaca and The Carlyle Group.  Taylor Swift, like the City of Missoula with Mountain Water, tried many times to buy back the rights to her music.