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Taylor Swift's American Music Awards Medley In Limbo Amid Conflicting Reports

Taylor Swift, performing during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards in August in Newark, New Jersey.
Mike Coppola
Getty Images for MTV
Taylor Swift, performing during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards in August in Newark, New Jersey.

Updated Monday at 4:10 p.m. ET

The very public back-and-forth battle between Taylor Swift and her former record label over the rights to her songs has become even more complicated. On Monday afternoon, the producers of the American Music Awards denied a statement made earlier in the day by Big Machine Label Group that the two parties had reached an agreement that would allow Swift to perform a medley of her old hits on the show.

Swift is scheduled to receive the made-for-TV award show's "Artist of the Decade" honor this Sunday. The pop megastar wants to perform the songs of her choosing, but claims that Big Machine denied a request that would allow her to do so. The label released Swift's first six studio albums and owns the rights to most of her songs.

Big Machine released a statement earlier Monday that the label and Dick Clark Productions — the company behind the American Music Awards — had reached an agreement.

"The Big Machine Label Group and Dick Clark Productions announce that they have come to terms on a licensing agreement that approves their artists' performances to stream post show and for re-broadcast on mutually approved platforms," the statement read. "This includes the upcoming American Music Awards performances. It should be noted that recording artists do not need label approval for live performances on television or any other live media. Record label approval is only needed for contracted artists' audio and visual recordings and in determining how those works are distributed."

Hours later, however, Dick Clark Productions rejected Big Machine's statement. The company sent a statement to NPR that reads in full:

"At no time did Dick Clark Productions agree to, create, authorize or distribute a statement in partnership with Big Machine Label Group regarding Taylor Swift's performance at the 2019 American Music Awards. Any final agreement on this matter needs to be made directly with Taylor Swift's management team. We have no further comment."

Last week, the latest chapter in the ongoing power and financial struggle between Swift and her former label came to a head when the artist claimed on social media that Big Machine had blocked her from performing a medley of her old hits on the AMAs, as well as denying permission for her Big Machine-era hits to be included in an upcoming Netflix bio documentary.

NPR has reached out to Swift's management for comment.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.