The shady side of Scooter Braun
Manager Scott “Scooter” Braun has come a long way since getting fired from Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Records at the age of 23. After striking out on his own, the entertainment mogul’s first semi-success story was one-hit wonder Asher Roth, whose “I Love College” was a modest radio hit in 2009. That same year, a mop-topped Canadian preteen by the name of Justin Bieber (whom Braun discovered) released his debut EP, My World, and Braun soared into the stratosphere with the “Baby” singer. (All of this despite the fact that the Biebs’ mother, Pattie Mallette, once reportedly admitted she initially wasn’t too thrilled that Braun, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is Jewish. However, Braun himself later claimed her quote on the matter was taken out of context.)
Over the next decade, Braun would create a multi-media empire through SchoolBoy Records, and invest in numerous business ventures and companies, including Uber and DropBox. His past and present talent management roster includes the likes of Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Demi Lovato, and more. But for every success story at Braun’s hand are tales of drama that could potentially overshadow his professional acumen. Behold, this is the shady side of Scooter Braun.
Taylor Swift accused Scooter Braun of 'manipulative bullying'
In June 2019, Scooter Braun announced that he’d purchased Taylor Swift’s former record label, Big Machine, and acquired the rights to her old music catalog — leading the songstress to lash out in a Tumblr post. Accusing Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying” through his associations with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian — with whom she’s famously feuded — Swift slammed Braun for previously endorsing then-client West’s “Famous” music video, which she likened to “revenge porn” (it infamously featured a nude likeness of the pop star appearing in bed with several other nude figures of celebs). Prior to this, Kardashian had “exposed” Swift for allegedly lying about giving West permission to rap about her in the controversial song (which Swift denied). Make sense?
“Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter,” Swift wrote, before adding of Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta, “Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to.” The “You Need to Calm Down” hitmaker continued, “He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn’t want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever.” While Swift alleged that the $300 million deal went through without her knowledge, Borchetta vehemently denied this claim. Meanwhile, sources cited by The Blast claimed that Swift allegedly “ghosted” Braun when he reportedly tried reaching out to her privately on the matter.
Todrick Hall slammed him as 'homophobic' and 'evil'
Multi-talented YouTube star Todrick Hall — who just so happens to be a close friend of Taylor Swift and a former Scooter Braun client — came out swinging against the latter in the Swift-Braun feud. “He is an evil person who’s only concern is his wealth and feeding his disgusting ego,” Hall tweeted in part at the time. “I believe he is homophobic & I know from his own mouth that he is not a Swift fan.” He added, “I would normally not say anything because I’m sure scooter will threaten me like he has before to keep me quiet, but guess what Scooter, nothing you can do to me would be worst than the 6 years of my life I can’t get back from when & I was ignored as your ‘artist.'”
In response, Demi Lovato chimed in and denied that Braun was homophobic. Meanwhile, Braun’s business partner, Allison Kaye Scarinzi, claimed that Hall had been dropped from SchoolBoy Records for allegedly stealing from fans. We’ll leave it to you to pick a side in all of this.
Others have fought Scooter Braun's battles
As of this writing, Scooter Braun has not responded publicly or directly to Taylor Swift’s allegations. However, a number of his clients and wife Yael Cohen Braun did. “Don’t blame him because Kim caught you in a lie, it’s embarrassing, I know — but adults own up to their mistakes,” Yael wrote in part on Instagram. “We learn and grow from them, we don’t divert blame and blur the lines of reality to suit our needs.” In addition to slamming Swift for her alleged dishonesty, she claimed that her husband was a longtime Swift supporter, had sent an “olive branch” to her more than once, and had advised his clients to “be kind or be quiet” regarding the country crossover star. Hm.
For his part, Justin Bieber addressed Swift in an Instagram missive, in which he somewhat diplomatically renounced her take-down of Braun. Meanwhile, Lovato continued to publicly praise Braun for his loyalty in a series of since-deleted Instagram Stories (via Refinery29), and Sia called the media mogul a “good kind man” on Twitter. According to News.com.au, Braun reportedly reposted then deleted an Instagram Story from pal David Grutman, which read, “When your friend BUYS Taylor Swift.” Yikes. The media outlet noted that Braun reportedly continued to repost well-wishes from his supporters, but opted not to publicly say anything himself.
He's dissed Ariana Grande's personal life
Scooter Braun may have an issue with boundaries, considering the fact that he once flapped his gums about Ariana Grande’s personal life to the press. Fans may recall that the “Thank U, Next” hitmaker temporarily parted ways with Braun in early 2016. While the two went on to patch up their business relationship, Braun ultimately blamed their brief manager-client split on the singer’s dating life. Oh boy.
“With Ariana, I could have said a lot of stuff, and in fact my team wanted me to, because they were so pi**ed,” Braun began (somewhat passive-aggressively) while speaking at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival in October 2018 (via Variety). “But I said, ‘We’re not gonna say a word, and this is gonna come back around.’ They were like, ‘Never take her back!’ and I just said, ‘Let’s stay quiet and let our truth be our actions.'”
Then, of course, he spoke about the situation publicly two years later. “And when the sh**ty boyfriends leave, she starts to see the light on some stuff,” Braun continued. Noting that they then had a “very honest conversation” about his employment, he claimed that getting fired had made him a “better manager.”
Did Braun push Grande to perform before she was ready?
In May 2017, a horrific terrorist attack took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, claiming the lives of 22 people and leaving hundreds more injured. While Grande was understandably traumatized after the incident, Scooter Braun later bragged about pushing her to get back onstage — albeit for a great cause.
While speaking on The Bill Simmons Podcast in February 2018, Braun claimed that he initially wanted to cancel Grande’s Dangerous Woman tour following the bombing, but Grande urged him to keep it going. However, the songstress herself revealed just months later that she didn’t think she’d ever perform again. In an interview with Time, she recalled telling Braun, “I can never sing these songs again. I can’t put on these outfits. Don’t put me in this position.” Of course, Grande came around to headline the One Love Manchester benefit concert in June 2017, which raised nearly $13 million for survivors and victims of the tragedy. “We put a lot on her shoulders,” Braun said of the “No Tears Left To Cry” singer. “And she took over. You know, for the rest of her life, she can say that she is exactly who she claims to be.”
Braun later admitted he was “frustrated” with Grande for canceling a performance right after she and comedian Pete Davidson broke off their engagement in October 2018 (about a month after her ex, rapper Mac Miller, tragically died). Notice a pattern here?
He doesn't seem to care about his talent's conduct
The Wanted had a smash hit with “Glad You Came” in 2011, but couldn’t sustain their success … possibly due to Scooter Braun’s management (or lack thereof). It wasn’t long before the British-Irish boy band became almost as well known for their hellish behavior as for their heavenly harmonies. Following their 2014 split, former member Siva Kaneswaran alleged to the Mirror that their bad reputation was due in part to their reality show, The Wanted Life, and the almost incessant parties Braun reportedly encouraged them to attend (and sometimes even hosted). The former group also reportedly feuded with more successful pop acts, like One Direction and Christina Aguilera, which couldn’t have helped their public image. Not to mention ex-bandmate Nathan Sykes shared what was suspected to be a “showmance” with one Ariana Grande.
While Sykes and Max George were the only members of the group to keep Braun as a manager, the man himself appeared to deflect responsibility for all of his acts’ alleged behavior. While discussing Grande’s infamous donut incident and Justin Bieber’s egg-throwing mayhem with The New York Times in 2015, Braun said, “We’re getting a little ridiculous when it comes to doughnuts and eggs … Why are we discussing that when we have real significant issues in the world?”
Did Scooter Braun fail Carly Rae Jepsen?
Carly Rae Jepsen is an incredible songwriter who’s beloved by critics. After peaking at No. 1 in 2012, “Call Me Maybe” lingered on the Billboard charts for a whopping 50 weeks. But when she surprisingly wasn’t able to maintain this level of success, Scooter Braun jumped to his own defense. “We had the biggest single in the entire world last time, and we sold 30,000 copies in the U.S.,” he told The New York Times. “This is the music business — it’s a worldwide business. Carly’s album is gigantic in Japan, which is the second-biggest music market in the world. In other markets, this album is a humongous success. I think that I tried everything, and it falls on me. I didn’t get it done for her.”
While Braun accepted responsibility for her lack of continued commercial success to a degree, he hinted that Jepsen maybe needed more motivation (or a different physical appearance) to soar: “I didn’t get the success I wanted. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough when I thought I was. Maybe I didn’t get her the right TV look at the right time. Maybe I picked the wrong single.” Jepsen’s follow-up record, 2015’s E•MO•TION, debuted at No. 14 and sold only about 16,000 copies in the first week. When The New Yorker insinuated that Braun was “a businessman and not a music coach,” perhaps they weren’t kidding.
He's remained cagey about Kanye West
Scooter Braun managed Kanye West until April 2018, when West publicly announced that he “can’t be managed.” As a result, Braun took to other tactics in an effort to help steer the rapper’s career and life. “[West] called me up and said ‘We’ve had a great thing for the last couple of years. And [in] the last two weeks, I think, a lot of things have got out of hand, and we’re brothers — come help,'” Braun told The Guardian that July. “I really do love the guy. We’ll see how long it lasts, but I’ll always be a friend to him. We’re not going to use the word ‘manager’ — it’s not a word that he likes, nor does it really describe our relationship.”
For his part, Braun preferred the terms “adviser” and “partner” when it came to his relationship with West (which means he’s probably still not really a “friend,” because he’s still getting those checks). However, when asked why he didn’t “advise” West against tweeting apparent madness about Donald Trump and slavery, Braun shirked responsibility once again, saying he’s “more concerned with the president of the United States being on social media than I am with Kanye West.” Okay, but what about when they’re tweeting about each other … and hanging out?
Madison Beer accused him of abandoning her
While Justin Bieber is said to have discovered a then-13-year-old Madison Beer on YouTube in 2012, she suspects it was actually someone else who was behind that tweet the Biebs famously sent out afterward. According to her own account, that someone was most likely Scooter Braun, who allegedly discarded her almost as quickly.
“Justin definitely didn’t discover me himself,” Beer told the Evening Standard six years later. “I’m pretty sure someone showed him the video and then he tweeted it. I doubt he was just scrolling on YouTube. But I wasn’t signed [to Braun’s label] before the tweets went up.” For her part, Beer wasn’t a fan of the art she put out when she first got signed and told the outlet that she felt “trapped for a long time” in her deal.
As of 2019, Beer’s an independent artist, which she told Build LDN she prefers, claiming that Braun and Co. all dropped her suddenly. “I was signed to everything: I had Justin Bieber in my music video, I had like, TV show being planned, movies being planned, this and that, and then out of nowhere, it was all gone,” she alleged. “No more Scooter, no more Justin, no more labels. Not even my lawyer was the same. Everyone left me, everyone gave up.”
Scooter Braun admitted to manipulating Justin Bieber
Scooter Braun once told the press that he thought Justin Bieber would die from a drug overdose amid his battle with addiction. “I thought he was going to sleep one night and that he would have so much crap in his system that he would not wake up the next morning,” Braun admitted on Van Lathan’s Red Pill podcast in 2018. “I was trying to monitor him from a distance, I would fly after him at times, all kinds of different stuff.”
While he declined taking credit for Bieber’s sobriety, Braun later boasted about his manipulation skills when it came to the Canadian pop star, telling BuzzFeed News in April 2019: “Justin, when he got healthy, he was like, ‘Man, there were times that you were manipulating me that made me really upset. But now I realize that you were only doing it to help me. You were never trying to manipulate me to hurt me — you were trying to manipulate me to stop me from hurting myself.'”
Considering the fact that Bieber unfortunately appeared to still be in a pretty dark place around that time, maybe Braun needs more practice at the very thing he bragged about (and that Taylor Swift accused him of doing).
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