Why Music Manager Scooter Braun Is at the Center of a Media Storm

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Music entrepreneur Scooter Braun is in the spotlight following recent reports that some of his largest clients, including singers Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, have parted ways with the manager. SB Projects, Braun’s entertainment and marketing company, has not publicly confirmed or addressed the reports, though on Tuesday, Braun did tweet in jest, using the same format as previous tweets reporting former clients’ splits from him: “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself,” acknowledging the frenzy.

SB Projects did not respond to TIME’s request for comment. Representatives for Grande and Lovato did not respond to requests for comment on whether they had parted ways with Braun. 

Braun, 42, is most well-known for managing a range of high-level artists—his catalog has included Kanye West, whom he parted ways with in 2018, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Black Eyed Peas, Asher Roth, and Dan + Shay. He managed the singer J Balvin, who left Braun in May, as well as star Idina Menzel, who reportedly cut ties with Braun in January. He’s also CEO of HYBE America, the U.S. division of the South Korean music company behind K-Pop sensation BTS.

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Braun’s most publicly known client relationship is with Justin Bieber, whom he discovered when Bieber was a teenager in Ontario, Canada posting R&B covers on YouTube. Under Braun’s management, Bieber signed to Def Jam Records through Raymond Braun Media Group, a joint venture between Braun and Usher. Claims that Bieber had left Braun in a report last week in Puck News were denied by representatives for both Bruan and the singer. 

Braun began making his name in the music industry in the early 2000s, after dropping out of college and connecting with music mogul Jermaine Dupri, eventually becoming head of marketing at Dupri’s Atlanta-based label So So Def. In 2007, Braun launched SB Projects. He’s become the rare executive within the music industry to become a known name outside the field; in 2013, he was named to the TIME100

In 2019, Braun became involved in a public feud with Taylor Swift after he purchased Big Machine Records, the label that owns the original recordings of Swift’s first six projects. Swift took to Tumblr to explain her contentious relationship with Braun. In 2022 Braun called the feud “a learning lesson” on the NPR The Limits With Jay Williams podcast.

“All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his [Braun’s] hands for years… Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter,” Swift wrote in response in the post. “Any time Scott Borchetta (CEO of Big Machine Records) has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to.” Swift is now well into her effort to re-record her back catalog.

Braun’s spat with Swift turned him into a controversial figure in an industry where reputation means everything and rumors often run rampant. Right now, beyond Braun’s semi-cryptic tweet, it’s hard to know what’s actually happening with the stars he manages. A Variety piece published earlier on Tuesday offers two sides of the coin:

Amid the speculation, some sources tell Variety that clients like Grande aren’t leaving Braun, but that instead he’s “continuing to step back from day-to-day management to focus on his role as CEO of HYBE America.” Other sources, similar to a 2022 Insider report, insinuate not everything is what meets the eye when it comes to Braun. 

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Write to Mariah Espada at mariah.espada@time.com