LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scooter Braun is one of the most recognizable names in the music business for his singular work as an executive and entrepreneur. He’s managed many of your favorite artists, propelling the likes of Justin Bieber to stratospheric fame, and earned the ire of Taylor Swift and her legions of fans for his business practices.
On Friday, rumors circulated online that Justin Bieber was leaving Braun, his longtime manager — and the man credited with discovering him. In the days that followed, speculation grew, and media outlets began reporting that some of Braun’s other hype-profile clients like Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato were also parting ways with him — all of which has yet to be confirmed.
Braun hasn’t issued a public statement, but did tweet in jest, writing “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself.”
As the story continues to unfold, here’s everything we know — and everything we don’t — about what’s going with Scooter Braun and his powerful client roster.
Without confirmation from artists, their teams, or Braun himself, changes to Braun’s roster are conjectural. AP reached out to every artist listed as being managed under Braun’s company, SB Projects, on their official website and only heard back from a select few.
A person familiar with SB Projects’ business dealings, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told the AP the artists on the company’s roster have day-to-day managers who are not Braun, and he consults with them. The person noted that no single person would be able to manage his roster of some of the biggest names in music on their own.
Representatives for Carly Rae Jepsen, BabyJake, and Asher Roth confirmed to AP that those artists no longer work with Braun and haven’t for quite some time.
A person close to Idina Menzel told AP the singer is no longer managed by Braun but was not authorized to speak publicly.
A representative for pop star Ava Max confirmed that she is still represented by Braun.
OK, but why is Scooter Braun a big deal?
In the early 2000s, Braun dropped out of Emory College to throw parties for elite musicians traveling to Atlanta: Ludacris, Eminem, even Britney Spears. Jermaine Dupri recruited him to become So So Def’s executive director of marketing. Later, in 2007, Braun started his own talent management company, SB Projects, where in 2008, he’d discover Justin Bieber on YouTube, growing the teen heartthrob’s profile by utilizing social media.
SB Projects encompasses a few ventures: Management, which included clients like Bieber, Ariana Grande, J Balvin, and for a short-stint, Kanye West; Sheba Publishing, a joint venture with Universal Music Group Publishing; and Schoolboy Records, a record label first put on the map by Braun’s client Asher Roth and his 2009 hit “I Love College.”
Braun operated his assorted companies under one entity called Ithaca Holdings.
In the midst of his incredible success, in 2019, Braun bought Big Machine Records, the label that originally signed Taylor Swift and released her first six records. Its CEO Scott Borchetta stayed in place. With the purchase, Braun purchased ownership to Swift’s master recordings, which he sold to an investment fund the following year. As a result, Swift announced that she would re-record her albums to own her new masters in a project called “Taylor’s Version.”
In April 2021, Braun sold Ithaca Holdings to HYBE — the publicly traded company formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment, best known for creating the K-pop group BTS — in a $1.05 billion deal. According to the corporate filling, Braun would receive about 462,380 shares of the company (totaling $86.2 million) while his star clients Grande and Bieber would each receive 53,557 shares, or almost $11.0 million apiece.
In January 2023, he became the sole CEO of HYBE America, having previously shared the title after the merger with Big Hit’s Lenzo Yoon.
Back up — what is Braun doing with HYBE?
When Braun’s Ithaca Holdings merged with the globally minded HYBE in April 2021, it became one of the largest music companies in the world. Just a few months later, in July, Bang Si-hyuk, the CEO of Bit Hit Entertainment/HYBE stepped down, Park Ji-won took over, and Lenzo Yoon and Scooter Braun were named co-CEOs of HYBE America. In January, Braun became the sole CEO — which means he’s busy.
There has been speculation that if Braun’s artists are leaving SB Projects management, it is because Braun is slowly placing his focus on HYBE America instead of acting as an artist manager. But so far, there’s been no confirmation that’s what’s happening.
What does a music manager do?
The role of a music manager is an elusive one, based largely on the kind of relationship between the businessperson and the musician. The best music managers — and we’re excluding business and tour managers here, whose specialties are in the title — are fiercely organized, dedicated to the success of their artist. They possess a deep understanding of the industry and the artist’s place within it.
They work to ensure their artist’s projects run smoothly, connecting teams to reach a particular goal. Think of them as the behind-the-scenes engine responsible for allowing the artist to succeed. Often, they invest in and help develop an artist, and tackle anything from creative production to day-to-day operations.