Yet, unlike indictments, there isn’t much real information about what some people are calling a mass departure from Braun’s SB Projects. Sources from both sides have said that Lovato’s “amicable” exit is true. But multiple sources strongly denied that Bieber was about to leave (though Puck, which first reported the news, and at least one other source Variety talked to say the story is true). Sources close to Braun adamantly disputed that Grande had left him, which would be her second breakup. A representative for Grande did not reply to Variety’s requests for comment, but unnamed sources told Billboard that the two had broken up.
The situation has hit a strange netherworld of off-the-record confirmations and denials, where one set of sources says one thing and another says the opposite, and no one is likely telling the whole truth. Representatives are not helping, and insiders are not talking. It’s like trying to find out what’s going on with Fight Club or Voldemort.
Some sources tell Variety that Bieber and Grande are not leaving the company, but that Braun is continuing to step back from day-to-day management to focus on his job as CEO of HYBE America, the South Korean entertainment giant behind K-pop superstars BTS, to whom he sold Ithaca Holdings, the parent company of his SB Projects management business, for a whopping $1.05 billion in 2021.
Braun’s Management Departure Signals End of an Era
One person says, “He’s imploding,” which sounds like some bad news is coming. “Since the outbreak, the world has changed. You just can’t act like such a jerk anymore.”
But another person says, “He’s leaving management, and he’s been doing that for years. That’s what happened.”
Several sources told Variety that Braun hasn’t been active in his biggest musicians’ careers in recent years. Instead, SB Projects’ longtime personnel manage big artists daily. In fact, the CEO of a $11 billion company probably wouldn’t have time for this kind of attention, even though both Bieber and Grande haven’t done much in recent years. As CEO of HYBE America, his first big move was to buy Atlanta hip-hop giant Quality Control for $320 million. Quality Control is home to Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, and other artists.
Also, it’s not clear what it would look like for artists to “part ways” or “no longer be with” Braun. There are all kinds of management deals, but all of the artists in question probably have contracts that they have to follow by law.
The fact that it’s taken so long might be the most surprising thing. By the time he was 40, Braun had accomplished many of his David Geffen-sized goals. He had helped several artists become superstars, and he organized “One Love Manchester,” a major charity concert with Grande, Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Mac Miller, Miley Cyrus, and others, in just two weeks. The concert was in response to a terrorist bombing outside a Grande concert in 2017 that killed 22 people.
Artists and Executives Profit from HYBE Deal
But his reputation was ruined when he bought Big Machine Record Group in 2018 and got the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums. Swift said this was sneaky, to put it mildly, and it came after Braun and some of his clients and friends at the time, like Justin Bieber and Kanye West, teased her for months. Even though she said horrible things about him and her fans attacked him on social media, he was able to sell that catalog to Shamrock Holdings for about $300 million, making a nice profit. He then sold Ithaca Holdings for a whopping $1.05 billion, making a huge profit. Shortly after the deal was done, he bought a $65 million house in the rich Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood.
Braun has talked a lot about how much money his artists and executives made from the deal because they were owners of the company. According to a company filing from HYBE, Braun’s artists and staff, including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, J Balvin, and Demi Lovato, got shares worth about $161 million. He and Scott Borchetta, who started Big Machine Record Group, got most of the money. Braun got 462,380 shares, worth about $86.2 million, and Borchetta got 166,537 shares, worth about $31.1 million. Grande and Bieber each got 53,557 shares, worth just under $11 million each.
Further down the chain, J. Balvin, who had signed with Braun just 18 months before and left soon after, got 21,423 shares ($4.1 million), and Lovato, who left him last month, got 5,355 shares ($1.06 million).
Bieber and Grande Take a Break After HYBE Deal
But since that deal was done, Bieber and Grande, two of Braun’s biggest acts, have been very quiet. Bieber had to cancel a huge world tour halfway through because he had Ramsay Hunt Disease, a rare illness that temporarily paralyzed half of his face. Last year, Braun sold most of his music rights to Hipgnosis Songs for $200 million, certainly taking a significant portion. Since “Justice” came out in March 2021, he hasn’t put out a full record. However, he has put out a few singles in the time since.
Grande has been quiet for even longer, and it looks like she’s been working hard on her part as the lead in Universal’s big-screen version of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked,” which won’t come out until November 2024. Since “Positions” came out in October 2020, she hasn’t put out a solo album or song, but she has been on a few high-profile tracks with the Weeknd and others.
Clientele Braun has had issues with has been lost in the turmoil. His company’s website lists “past and present” but doesn’t list current employees. Grande returned to him after a few months in 2016. J. Balvin joined the company in 2019 but left “amicably” a few weeks after receiving his shares. Kanye West and Kid Laroi were in and out of the business.
But the company keeps getting new clients. Two of the most recent are the Puerto Rican singer Ozuna and the rapper Kalii, who is on the rise.
Scooter Braun is a music industry executive and entrepreneur who has built a successful empire over the past two decades. His company, SB Projects, represents some of the biggest names in music, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato. Braun also owns a number of other businesses, including a record label, a talent management company, and a music publishing company.
Braun started his career in the music industry as a talent manager. He helped launch the careers of several successful artists, including Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen. In 2007, he founded SB Projects, which quickly became one of the most powerful management companies in the music industry.