Who is Scooter Braun? The career and controversies of the man who discovered Justin Bieber

How the former party planner has become one of the most powerful people in the music business

Scott 'Scooter' Braun with Justin Bieber. Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

Scott "Scooter" Braun has been making plenty of headlines lately.

But while the manager-turned-chief executive used to handle publicity for the A-list music stars whose careers he managed, he’s now the one in the news for how fast those artists are parting from him.

Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato have recently split from their former manager, and rumours refuse to die down that Justin Bieber, whose career was kick-started after Braun discovered him online, will be the next to go.

For Braun – who has guided the careers of Kanye West, Carly Rae Jepsen, J Balvin and more – the defection of some of the world’s biggest recording stars doesn’t seem to have left him crying into his reported $500 million fortune.

He was named the chief executive of Hybe America – the US subsidiary of Hybe Corporation, the South Korean label behind BTS – in January. However, this week Braun took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to poke fun at the headlines, writing: “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself" after stars have parted ways with him.

College dropout-turned-record label executive

Braun started his career in entertainment while at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he quickly gained a reputation as the campus party planner.

At 20, his entrepreneurial skills helped him get hired to plan after parties for the Anger Management Tour in 2001 that featured rappers Ludacris and Eminem.

Through the tour he met music producer Jermaine Dupri who convinced Braun to drop out of university to take up the role of executive director of marketing for Dupri’s label So So Def Recordings.

Tasked with putting together events, such as planning the after-parties for Britney SpearsOnyx Hotel Tour in 2004, Braun later left So So Def Recordings and formed the Raymond Braun music group with R&B star Usher, earning himself a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2009.

Discovering Bieber

In 2008, Braun came across a video posted to YouTube of young Bieber singing a cover of Ne-yo’s So Sick. He asked Bieber’s mother, Pattie Mallette, to fly from Canada to Atlanta with her son with a view to signing the talented youngster.

Bieber’s debut EP, My World, was released in 2009 on Braun’s RBMG and Schoolboy Records label. The 2010 follow-up album, My World 2.0 hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, making 16-year-old Bieber the youngest solo male act to top the chart in 47 years.

The album would spawn the monster hit Baby and turn the singer into one of the biggest music stars in the world – managed by Braun.

Public fight with Taylor Swift

Braun’s golden boy image took a hit in 2019, when his company Ithaca Holdings bought the Big Machine Label Group, the record label Swift had been with for 13 years and which held the rights to her first six albums.

The $330 million purchase was slammed by Swift who claimed she had not been offered the chance to buy the rights to her recordings.

Accusing Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying”, she called the deal her “worst case scenario” in a Tumblr post.

“Now 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.”

Rallying her global legion of fans, Swifties denounced the deal and 17 months later, Braun sold the catalogue to an investment fund, with Variety reporting that he “profited handsomely”.

Swift went on to re-record her albums, releasing Fearless (Taylor's Version) and Red (Taylor's Version) in 2021, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) in July and will re-release 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in October.

Braun said about the purchase on The Limits With Jay Williams radio show in 2022 that “a lot of things got lost in translation".

"So, the regret I have there is that I made the assumption that everyone – once the deal was done – was going to have a conversation with me, see my intent, see my character and say, ‘Great. Let’s be in business together'", he said. "I can’t put myself in a place of arrogance to think that someone would just be willing to have a conversation, be excited to work with me."

Why have Grande and Lovato parted ways with Braun?

Braun signed Grande to his label in 2013, releasing her debut album Yours Truly and subsequent offerings 2014’s My Everything, 2016's Dangerous Woman, Sweetener in 2018, 2019's Thank U, Next and Positions in 2020.

“They are friendly but she's outgrown him and is excited to go in a different direction," a source close to Grande told People. “Yes, there are negotiations happening because of contracts. But this is her choice. It's time for something new.”

Signing with him in 2019, Lovato dropped Braun as her manager last month, with Billboard reporting: “[It was] time for Lovato to go in a new direction, even though she was thankful for her time with SB Projects."

For now, Bieber appears to remain loyal to his mentor, although industry insiders told People that while the singer, 29, is “still managed” by Braun, "the relationship with Scooter has run its course”.

Updated: August 23, 2023, 2:28 PM