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Major artists are reportedly ditching their A-list manager. Here's what's going on

Demi Lovato, Scooter Braun and Ariana Grande.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images, Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Demi Lovato, Scooter Braun and Ariana Grande.

Updated August 23, 2023 at 12:33 PM ET

Don't be fooled by the catchy nickname and skateboarder vibe. Scooter Braun is a major entertainment industry player, investor, manager, entrepreneur and then some.

What's the big deal?

  • Braun helped develop the careers of some of the world's most popular artists. He's credited with discovering Justin Bieber. Among the artists he's worked with are Psy, the Black Eyed Peas and Idina Menzel.
  • In 2013, Braun was named one of Time Magazine's "100 most influential people in the world." Fellow entertainment mogul and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called him a "very savvy businessman and a creative visionary."
  • Why he's in the news:

  • A number of major artists are reportedly leaving his company SB Projects.
  • J. Balvin left in May. Now Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande are allegedly departing. Matthew Belloni of Puck reports that even Bieber might be looking for the exit.
  • Context: Taylor Swift

  • Braun most famously engaged in a bitter dispute with Taylor Swift over control of her recorded catalogue. In 2019, Braun's investment company Ithaca Holdings purchased Big Machine Records, the label that signed Swift when she was a teenager.
  • Swift, who left Big Machine in 2018, was appalled to learn Braun now owned the master recordings to her first six albums. She claimed that, among other restrictions, she was blocked from performing her songs.
  • In an interview with Variety, Braun said Swift's reaction made him "sad" and that, "All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual."
  • Ithaca Holdings has since been acquired by South Korea's HYBE, manager of the K-pop supergroup BTS, for $1.05 billion. Braun is now CEO of HYBE America.

  • Want more culture news? Listen to the Consider This episode on how the battle over book bans takes a toll on librarians.


    Scooter Braun and Demi Lovato attend an event in California in 2021.
    Rich Fury / Getty Images for OBB Media
    /
    Getty Images for OBB Media
    Scooter Braun and Demi Lovato attend an event in California in 2021.

    What now?

  • With this string of alleged departures from his company, the optics aren't good for Scooter Braun. But the "savvy" businessman who dropped out of Emory to build his empire has an extremely diversified portfolio of interests and a robust roster of artists that any impresario would covet.
  • He also possesses formidable public relations skills that he could use to emerge from the current negativity. As Anna Silman reported for Business Insider last March:
  • "Braun became known for his cushy relationships with editors and journalists across the industry, according to six media insiders. The attitude at one major entertainment outlet was 'we don't speak badly' about Braun and his clients, according to one person."

    Justin Bieber (left) and Scooter Braun at a Hollywood Walk of Fame event in January 2020.
    David Livingston / Getty Images
    /
    Getty Images
    Justin Bieber (left) and Scooter Braun at a Hollywood Walk of Fame event in January 2020.

    Learn more:

  • Taylor Swift's former label Big Machine is sold, rankling the star reporting by Anastasia Tscioulcas
  • Scooter Braun on the lessons he's learned while defying expectations, interview with Braun on The Limits with Jay Williams
  • Why Taylor Swift is calling the sale of her old music label her worst case scenario, All Things Considered interview with Jem Aswad of Variety
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Corrected: August 22, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
    A previous version of this story listed Carly Rae Jepsen as one of Scooter Braun's clients. While she is listed on Braun's company website, a spokesperson for Jepsen says Braun has not managed her since 2016. Jepsen is currently with Mick Management. The story also incorrectly stated that Post Malone is one of Braun's clients.
    Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.