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- Scooter Braun has a very, very long roster of clients including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West, among others.
- His business venture is far-reaching.
- On Sunday, Braun purchased Big Machine Records, the label that Taylor Swift released her first six albums. In a lengthy post on Tumblr, Swift said the purchase was extremely upsetting to her, and she accused Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying.” Her post prompted an uproar in the industry.
- Braun started out in the industry working as a party promoter in Atlanta. Here’s what you should know about his career.
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When Taylor Swift speaks, the world listens. On Sunday, after celebrity manager Scooter Braun purchased Big Machine Records, the label on which Swift released her first six albums, she wrote a lengthy Tumblr post in which she said the $300 million sale was an act of “incessant, manipulative bullying” relating back to her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
The post caused an industry uproar, with people in both Swift and Braun’s camps rushing to each person’s defense.
Braun has a very, very long roster of clients including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Demi Lovato – the list honestly just keeps going.
Before this week, Braun was perhaps best known for discovering a pre-teen, floppy-haired Bieber on YouTube way back in the aughts. Here’s what you need to know about the manager who seemingly touches everything in the music industry.
Scooter Braun, 38, was born in New York City and grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Braun’s parents, Ervin and Susan, raised Scooter (real name Scott), and his siblings Adam, Sam, Cornelio, and Liza in the suburbs. In their household, sports like basketball, football, and swimming, were given priority, according to The New Yorker.
He was his high school class president at Greenwich High School, according to Atlanta Creative Loafing.
Scooter is a childhood nickname that just stuck around — and he hates it.
- Ariana Grande/YouTube
Scooter’s parents named him Scott – and that’s still what they call him, he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. But most people know him as Scooter thanks to a balloon artist who was working at a birthday party he attended as a child. Scooter told THR that he never liked or event wanted to be called Scooter.
“I hated it, and my brother found out that I hated it and kept calling me Scooter,” he said.
Braun said basketball played a huge role in his career: ‘The game made me professional.’
Basketball was especially important in Braun’s upbringing, he told The New Yorker.
His father Ervin founded an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team called the Connecticut flame. In 1998, whe Scooter was 17, the Brauns became the legal guardians for two AAU players who once played on the Mozambique national team – Sam Manhanga, then-15, and Cornelio Gouibunda, then-14.
“The game made me professional,” he said of the real-world business values he believes he has because of it. “That I shouldn’t be afraid of a full-court press. It’s my fault when we lose; it’s their victory when we win.”
Braun attended Emory University where he played D-III basketball and earned money by promoting parties.
According to Emory University, Braun hit the ground running when he got to Georgia.
The college student promoted parties at clubs – no, not fraternities – around Atlanta. The events attracted high-profile guests like Usher and Ludacris.
Through his club promotion work, Braun got a job offer to run marketing at So So Def records. He never finished his degree at Emory.
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As Braun tells it, Jermaine Dupri once approached the then-college student at an event and offered him the role of head of marketing at his label, So So Def. Braun accepted, left Emory without a degree, and that was that, according to The New Yorker.
After leaving So So Def, he took to alternative routes to finding work and new talent. That’s when he stumbled upon little-known rapper Asher Roth on MySpace.
- Taylor Hill/Getty Images
During an interview with Complex’s “Blueprint” podcast, Braun said that when he was fired from So So Def he had enough money to sustain himself and his two, then-unknown clients for 13 months. By month 11, things were looking bleak – money was running low and his clients weren’t quite having the luck he’d hoped for.
On a particularly hard day, he called his dad crying. And then, Roth surprised him.
“The next day Asher came in and played me ‘I Love College,’ and the publishing deal saved our company,” Braun said. “It just shows you how close success and failure lie.”
Around the same time, he found a young singer from Canada on YouTube. His name? Justin Bieber.
- Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Although he didn’t have immediate success with major labels, Bieber grew into one of the world’s biggest pop stars.
As legend has it – and as Braun told The New Yorker in 2012 – he pitched Bieber to Usher and Justin Timberlake. Both men were interested in signing the young singer. It was up to Bieber, who chose to be mentored by Usher and sign to Island Def Jam.
The rest was pop history.
Braun considers himself a ‘camp counselor for pop stars.’
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While Bieber was the flagship star for his brand, Braun continues to bring his expertise to a long list of clients.
Braun seems to have a hand in every pot in the music industry. According to his website, he manages clients like Kanye West, Ariana Grande, Usher, Karlie Kloss, Tori Kelly, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Black Eyed Peas, and Martin Garrix. The list really just keeps going.
In 2018, he branched out into film, forming Mythos Studios, which seeks to make movies based on comic book franchises.
- Alexandra Wyman/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Pencils Of Promise
In 2018, Braun teamed up with Marvel Studios’ founding chairman David Maisel to create Mythos Studios, their own studio focused on creating comic book movies and franchises, the New York Times reported.
Currently, the studio has three movies in development, “Fathom,” “Soulfire,” and “Cupid.” The former films are based on Aspen Comics, and Justin Bieber is slated to star in the latter, according to SyFy.
Braun is also involved in philanthropy, including the March for Our Lives.
- Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for March For Our Lives
In 2017, Billboard called Braun “Music’s First Responder.”
He’s organized events like Hand in Hand telethon (co-sponsored with Bun B) to raise money for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Along with his client Ariana Grande, he led the One Love Manchester benefit show for the victims of the terrorist bombing at the pop star’s May 2017 concerts.
He also lent an organizational hand to the student organizers of the anti-gun violence March for our Lives held in Washington, D.C., in 2018, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
His roster of clients under SB Projects is very, very long. It touches everything. And as of Sunday, that it includes Big Machine Records.
- Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Ithaca Holdings
On Sunday, Braun purchased Big Machine Records in a $300 million sale, which includes most of Taylor Swift’s back catalog. What happens next is complicated.
But in the meantime, it’s important to note that the country label joins Bruan’s large stable, better known as SB Projects. Currently, that umbrella encompasses, Schoolboy Records, SB Management, Raymond-Braun Media Group, (a venture with Usher), and Sheba Publishing, a songwriting group.
And this all leads back to Taylor Swift, who said on Sunday that she was not given a fair chance to purchase her own masters when Braun bought Big Machine.
Swift was signed with Big Machine, a label within Universal Music Group that is based in Nashville, Tennessee, for her first six albums. When that deal expired in 2018, she signed with UMG’s Republic Records. As a part of the new deal, she will all of her new master recordings going forward, according to Variety.
But her past masters – from the twang on her self-titled 2006 album to the dark edge of 2017’s “Reputation” remain in the hands of Big Machine. And now, effectively, Braun.
Swift called Braun’s purchase of the label a ‘worst-case scenario.’
In a post on Tumblr, Swift accused Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying.” She wrote that it went back to her much talked about feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
“Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy,” she wrote. “Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
In no uncertain terms, she also decried Big Machine CEO’s Scott Borchetta’s role in the scenario.
“This is my worst case scenario,” she wrote. “This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept. And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it. “
Swift’s post sparked a widespread reaction across the industry.
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It seems like everyone’s got an opinion about this matter.
After Swift posted on Tumblr, Bieber fired back with a long Instagram caption directed toward Swift.
Hailey Bieber, model and wife of the singer, commented on the post, calling him a “gentleman.” But Cara Delevingne commented that he missed the point and called Bieber out in the comments for “tearing women down.”
Borchetta responded in a lengthy post of his own, denying Swift’s account of the deal. Borchetta provided screenshots of contracts and transcripts of text messages sent to Swift. Yael Cohen, Braun’s wife, also responded on Instagram claiming that the world has watched Swift “collect and drop friends like wilted flowers.” Demi Lovato, who is managed by Braun, also called him a “good man” on her Instagram Story.
But across the industry, many who are not managed by the mogul have shown their support for Swift. Halsey, Iggy Azalea, and Todrick Hall (once formerly in Braun’s stable) among others, have spoken out in her defense.
Scooter Braun, at this time, has not personally spoken out.