Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande have parted ways with talent manager Scooter Braun, multiple media reports said on 21 August.
The news comes three months after Colombian singer J Balvin left the agency after four years with it. A few days ago there were rumours that Justin Bieber, too, had left Braun, but it was refuted by both the singer and the talent manager.
Braun’s SB Projects currently manages Bieber, Ava Max, Black Eyed Peas, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dan + Shay, David Guetta, Ozuna, Tori Kelly, and Usher among others.
The reported departures of Lovato and Grande has brought the spotlight back on Braun, who is particularly infamous for his feud with Taylor Swift.
All about Scooter Braun and his business
Major name in the world of music
New York City-born Scott Samuel Braun aka Scooter Braun shot to fame after he “discovered” a young Justin Bieber in 2006 on YouTube.
But he was quite popular himself as talent manager and organiser since his early years.
Braun started organising after-parties in a professional capacity in Atlanta’s club scene while he was a student at Emory University.
When he was only 20, American rapper Jermaine Dupri recruited him as executive director of marketing for So So Def Records. This is where he met artists such as Usher and Anthony Hamilton.
After leaving So So Def Records, he went independent. One of his earlier achievements was brokering a USD 10 million campaign deal with rapper Ludacris and the Pontiac Solstice sports car.
By 2009, he had founded Scooter Braun Projects (SB Projects) label and was named by Billboard in its list of 30 under 30.
SB Projects is part of Braun’s holding company Ithaca Holdings. In April 2021, Ithaca Holdings was acquired by South Korean entertainment company Hybe for over USD 1 billion via a subsidiary named Hybe America. Braun became the CEO of Hybe America and a board member of the parent company Hybe.
The acquisition brought Braun closer to world famous K-pop group BTS, who are managed by the Hybe label, and turned him into a billionaire by net worth.
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Controversy over Taylor Swift’s music
Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun share a bitter history over the former’s music rights since June 2019 when it was announced by Big Machine Records that Braun had purchased the label for an estimated USD 330 million through Ithaca Holdings.
The deal gave Braun the rights to the masters recordings of Swift’s first six albums, which she had recorded with Big Machine Records.
Swift repeatedly called out everyone involved in the deal, claiming that she was not given an opportunity to purchase her own works.
“After I was denied the chance to purchase my music outright, my entire catalog was sold to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in a deal that I’m told was funded by the Soros family, 23 Capital and that Carlyle Group,” Swift said in December 2019.
Swift called Braun a “bully” and “the definition of toxic male privilege in our industry.”
Swift again called out Braun, along with the Soros family and others, in an Instagram post in April 2020 when she discovered that Big Machine was planning to put out an album of her live performances.
Braun, through Ithaca Holdings, sold all of the masters to American private equity firm Shamrock Holdings in November 2020 for around USD 405 million and a profit of USD 265 million.
The same month, Swift said that “[Braun] would never even quote my team a price” and that she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would “silence [her] forever.”
Braun has disputed the claim.
In an interview with NPR in 2022, Braun revisited the controversy and said, “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.”
Without naming anyone, he claimed that he was “treated unfairly” but added that he understands “from the other side, they probably felt it was unfair, too.”
By this time, Swift had already announced that she would use her publishing rights as primary songwriter of all her songs to re-record and release her first six albums in what would be known as Taylor’s Version. Subsequently, she released Fearless (Taylor’s Version) in April 2021, followed by Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021, and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) in July 2023. She is set to release 1989 (Taylor’s Version) in October 2023.
All of her versions have hit No.1 in almost every music chart around the world.
Why did Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande part ways with Scooter Braun?
There is no clarity on why the two music icons have decided to leave Braun’s label. Demi Lovato had signed up for Braun’s SB Projects in 2019, while Ariana Grande was with the agency since 2013.
According to Billboard, Lovato left SB Projects in July 2023 and is looking for a new management. She launched two albums with the agency, Dancing With the Devil … the Art of Starting Over (2021) and Holy Fvck (2022). Both had difficulties in scoring a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
At the time when she joined Braun’s company, Lovato expressed her joy on Instagram.
“Dreams came true for me. I officially have a NEW MANAGER. And not just any manager but the one and only Scooter Braun. Couldn’t be happier, inspired and excited to begin this next chapter. Thank you for believing in me and for being a part of this new journey,” she wrote in a post in 2019.
But despite the departure, it seems Lovato and Braun are on good terms. The famous manager called her “one of the kindest souls out there” in a message posted to his Instagram Stories on Lovato’s 31st birthday on 20 August 2023.
On the other hand, Grande’s departure from Braun’s SB Projects was first reported by Puck’s Matthew Belloni on Twitter. According to Billboard, representatives of both Braun and Grande have declined to comment.
Great week pic.twitter.com/xVGQPoykFl
— Scott “Scooter” Braun (@scooterbraun) April 2, 2023
Grande’s entire post-Nickelodeon career has been under Braun’s company. She released six albums during this period, five of which were No.1 on Billboard 200 beside seven No.1 songs on Billboard Hot 100.
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(Hero image: Scott “Scooter” Braun/@scooterbraun/Twitter; Featured image: Scott “Scooter” Braun/@scooterbraun/Instagram)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur