If you haven’t heard of Scooter Braun, you have certainly heard of his clients.
The manager and music executive, 42, gained his celebrity after discovering Justin Bieber in 2007 as a young singer on YouTube and subsequently becoming his manager. Since then, Braun built a talent management empire, SB Projects, with a roster of high-profile clients like Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, David Guetta and Black Eyed Peas.
Others may recognize Braun as the person at the center of a public dispute with Taylor Swift; Braun in 2019 purchased Swift’s former record label, Big Machine Records, and with it, her master recordings. Swift says she has always wanted to own her music and wasn’t given that opportunity — so Swift set out re-record all her old music.
Now it seems Braun is back in the news: Demi Lovato has parted ways with Braun as her manager, two sources close to the situation confirmed to NBC News on Aug. 22.
Here’s everything you need to know about Braun’s career, clients, and controversies.
How Braun became a power player in the music industry
“The path I chose wasn’t school. It wasn’t a 9 to 5. I wanted to make my own path,” Scooter Braun told Bloomberg in 2023.
Braun’s early career was memorialized in a 2009 issue of Billboard, when the magazine named him a 30 Under 30 power player. In 2001, at 19, Braun started his first business “promoting some of the most notorious parties” in Atlanta’s club scene, per Billboard.
Through that work, he was recruited by Jermaine Dupri to be So So Def’s executive director of marketing. He was 20 years old.
He’s famous for being Justin Bieber’s manager
As a manager, Braun’s big break as a manager came when he discovered a young Justin Bieber singing on YouTube in 2008, and saw star potential.
A New York Times article recounts how Braun, then 28, tracked Bieber down by contacting his school, calling board members and asking them to put him in touch with Bieber’s mom.
He convinced Bieber’s mother to allow the young singer to meet with him, and soon after signed Bieber to his record label Raymond Braun Media Group, which Braun co-founded with singer Usher.
What artists does Scooter Braun currently manage?
According to the website for SB Projects, Braun’s talent management company, his current roster of clients includes Justin Bieber, Ava Max, Ariana Grande, Ashley Graham, Asher Roth, Babyjake, Black Eyed Peas, Callista Clark, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dan + Shay, David Guetta, Eden, Gunnar Gehl, Hillary Duff, Idina Menzel, J Balvin, Jenna Raine, Kalii, Kelly Rowland, The Knocks, Lil Dicky, Ozuna, Paul Pogba, PSY, Push Baby, Quavo, Social House, The Spencer Lee Band, Steve Angello, The Kid Laroi, The Scarlet Opera, Tori Kelly, The Wanted, Watt and YG.
He was involved in a public feud with Taylor Swift
Braun is also a former manager to Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. The two parted ways in 2018 after working together for two and a half years, according to Billboard.
The rapper became involved in a feud with Taylor Swift that began when he publicly interrupted her VMA Awards speech in 2009 and told Swift, then 19, that Beyoncé deserved the award she won. The two appeared to make up but in 2016, when Braun was his manager, Ye released the song “Famous” which included lyrics that made sexual references about Swift, and its accompanying video featured a mannequin that looked like Swift in bed with the rapper.
Swift said she never approved of the lyrics referencing her, but Ye’s wife at the time, Kim Kardashian, posted a Snapchat video in which the singer is heard allegedly giving her permission. In 2020, an extended clip of the video was released that showed Swift was not aware of the lyric “I made that bitch famous.” Kardashian tweeted the following at the time of the extended clip’s release: “To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that ‘Kanye never called to ask for permission…’ They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word ‘bitch’ was used without her permission.”
In 2019, Braun purchased Big Machine Records, the record label under which Swift had recorded her first five albums, through his company Ithaca Holdings.
Swift condemned the acquisition in a lengthy Tumblr post on June 30, 2019.
She said that her music catalog being sold to Scooter Braun was her “worst case scenario.”
“All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she said. “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
She included a screenshot of Bieber’s photo with Braun and West in the post.
Bieber responded in another Instagram post, in which he apologized for his previous post and defended Braun.
Bieber claimed in the caption that Braun had nothing to do with his “hurtful” Instagram post and had told Bieber not to “joke like that.”
“Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you,” Bieber wrote. “As the years have passed we haven’t crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on scooter isn’t fair. What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog? seems to me like it was to get sympathy u also knew that in posting that your fans would go and bully scooter.”
“Anyway, One thing i know is both scooter and i love you,” Bieber continued. “I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication. So banter back and fourth online i dont believe solves anything. I’m sure Scooter and i would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or or any feelings that need to be addressed. Neither scooter or i have anything negative to say about you we truly want the best for you. I usually don’t rebuttal things like this but when you try and deface someone i loves character thats crossing a line.”
In November 2020, Braun sold Swift’s catalog to a private equity company, per Variety. The same month, Swift announced in a tweet that she would be re-recording all of her old music in order to own the rights to her masters.
Braun opened up about the controversy in a 2021 interview with Variety.
“I regret and it makes me sad that Taylor had that reaction to the deal. … All of what happened has been very confusing and not based on anything factual,” he said.
“I don’t know what story she was told. I asked for her to sit down with me several times, but she refused,” he continued. “I offered to sell her the catalog back and went under NDA, but her team refused. It all seems very unfortunate. Open communication is important and can lead to understanding. She and I only met briefly three or four times in the past, and all our interactions were really friendly and kind. I find her to be an incredibly talented artist and wish her nothing but the best.”