Three of manager Scooter Braun’s biggest longterm clients, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Demi Lovato, have all generated headlines in the past couple days about their future with him. Grande and Lovato have parted ways with him, while Bieber is still working with Braun for now...but their actual relationship is reportedly a little complicated.
Another major client of Braun’s, J Balvin, parted ways with him in May and signed with Roc Nation, adding to the chatter that something big could be behind the artists’ departures.
And on Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that yet another one of Braun’s clients, actress and singer Idina Menzel, parted ways with him too.
Here’s what has come out about Braun and his clients so far, along with why some on social media are bringing up Taylor Swift’s song “Karma” in reaction to the news.
Where Braun and Justin Bieber stand:
Chatter about Braun first sparked when Puck News reported last week that Bieber was quietly seeking new management and that “lawyers were involved” in his alleged split from Braun. Braun has managed Bieber since he was 13 years old, discovering the now massive star on YouTube and signing him in 2008.
Multiple sources told the outlet that Bieber and Braun allegedly hadn’t spoken in months, although Bieber signed a new contract with Braun in 2021 that has not expired yet. “This is part of a larger house-cleaning that Justin and wife Hailey Bieber have undertaken amid his recent health issues and canceled tour: CAA was just fired as his agency, per three sources, longtime lawyer Aaron Rosenberg has been replaced with David Lande at the Ziffren firm, and Justin’s now working with business manager Lou Taylor, last seen starring as the villain in the Britney Spears conservatorship drama,” the outlet detailed.
Reps for Braun and Bieber denied reports that Bieber is seeking new management, saying that they are still working together.
Page Six spoke to sources who confirmed Hailey Bieber’s involvement in her husband’s business affairs and that he and Braun did have issues.
“Hailey has taken control and is heavily involved. She’s a part of meetings and she’s talking a lot for him,” a source said. “She’s the voice. They’re becoming this power couple. She’s a big part of everything he’s doing.”
Of Braun and Bieber, one source additionally said, “of course, there are issues [between them, but] they definitely did not split.”
Another source claimed that with Bieber and Braun, “everything has been set up by Scooter since he was a kid. Justin is older, wiser and smarter, and has started asking questions.”
Puck News’ Matthew Belloni responded to Bieber’s rep on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Justin Bieber’s rep put out a statement denying the Scooter Braun portion of this @PuckNews report. Bieber, who’s still contractually bound to Braun, did this as a face-saving favor to Braun,” he wrote. “Translation: Don’t believe it.”
Justin Bieber's rep put out a statement denying the Scooter Braun portion of this @PuckNews report. Bieber, who's still contractually bound to Braun, did this as a face-saving favor to Braun. Translation: Don't believe it. Here's the original report: https://t.co/WVsMV0nnZn
— Matthew Belloni (@MattBelloni) August 18, 2023
Neither Bieber nor Braun has publicly commented on the reports, beyond their reps denying that their relationship ended.
“At least one source” told Variety on Tuesday that Puck News’ story about Bieber and Braun’s split was true. Other sources “strenuously denied” this to the outlet.
What’s known about Demi Lovato splitting from Braun:
On Monday, Billboard reported that Lovato had quietly parted ways with Braun as her manager last month, with multiple sources telling the outlet that she was seeking new management. Lovato and Braun had worked together since 2019. Braun and Lovato’s reps denied to comment.
One source close to the situation told Billboard that “it was time for Lovato to go in a new direction, even though she was thankful for her time with SB Projects. She does not yet have new management, though conversations are taking place.”
What’s known about Ariana Grande parting ways with Braun:
Shortly after reports of Lovato leaving Braun came out, Puck News’ Matthew Belloni broke the news of Ariana Grande splitting with Braun, whose SB Projects had managed her since 2013.
NEWS: Ariana Grande has parted ways with Scooter Braun as her manager. 👀👀
— Matthew Belloni (@MattBelloni) August 21, 2023
Billboard confirmed the news shortly after from sources close to the situation. The outlet noted that “it is unclear whether Grande is severing all business ties with Braun outside of management.” Grande has not commented on the news and has kept her social media business as usual.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Grande’s standing is a little less clear.
TMZ reported that Grande was still under contract with SB Projects, Braun’s management company. But Puck News’ Matt Belloni pointed out that Braun was close to TMZ’s Harvey Levin. “Oh no, this is embarrassing for TMZ,” Belloni posted on X. “Harvey and Scooter are BFFs but Harvey man, the brand has gotta come first...”
Oh no, this is embarrassing for TMZ. Harvey and Scooter are BFFs but Harvey man, the brand has gotta come first... https://t.co/rTan3eRc90
— Matthew Belloni (@MattBelloni) August 22, 2023
What's known about Idina Menzel no longer working with Braun
Shortly after Lovato and Grande’s departures were revealed, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that Idina Menzel was no longer being managed by Braun either. A source close to her said that Menzel stopped working with Braun in January after signing with him in 2019. The outlet did not disclose the reason Menzel chose to find new management.
How Braun responded to the reports:
On Tuesday afternoon, Braun made his first public comment on all the chatter about clients leaving him. He posted a mocking response on X: “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself,” he wrote.
Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself
— Scott “Scooter” Braun (@scooterbraun) August 22, 2023
What sources have said about what's happening:
There's a lot of mixed messaging happening.
Variety pointed this out in its own report, writing, “The situation has reached a strange netherworld of off-the-record confirmations and denials where one set of sources says one thing and another says the opposite, and most likely no one is telling the whole truth. Reps are stonewalling and insiders are clamming up fast; it’s like trying to get an accurate status update on Fight Club or Voldemort.”
A similar quote has been given to Entertainment Tonight, Page Six, and Variety by a source (likely aligned with Braun) that said: “All of Scooter Braun’s clients are under contract and negotiations have been going on for several months as Scooter steps into his larger role as HYBE America CEO. People are spreading rumors based on what they know, but they are off. Scooter’s team at SB Projects are still handling both Justin and Ariana as they work through what this new structure looks like.”
Other sources told Variety that Bieber really is “set on leaving SB Projects” and has hired a new attorney, agency, and business manager.
One source suggested, per Variety, that “unsavory revelations are in the works.” The source said, “He’s imploding. It’s a different world since the pandemic. You just can’t be an asshole like that anymore.”
A second source countered that, saying, “He’s getting out of management—he has been for years. That’s the real story.”
Variety described Braun has “garnered so much ill will—and envy—in his rise to the top of the music industry] that the situation has reached a kind of snowballing mob mentality: The schadenfreude is so strong, and foes want him to fail so badly, that people lose perspective.”
Why Taylor Swift has come up in conversation with the Braun news:
Braun, of course, is infamous for his drama with Taylor Swift when he bought her masters of her first six albums from Big Machine Records, then later sold them to private equity firm Shamrock Holdings. In June 2019, when news of Braun buying Swift’s catalog first came out, Swift published an open letter calling out Braun’s treatment of her.
“I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world,” she shared. “All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years. Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together [Kanye West and Justin Bieber] to bully me online about it. Or when his client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked.” She added, “Any time [Big Machine Records’ head] Scott Borchetta has heard the words ‘Scooter Braun’ escape my lips, it was when I was either crying or trying not to.”
Swift’s fans believe her Midnights song “Karma” is about Braun. One fan pointed out that Braun is an investor in 100 Thieves, which Swift seemed to reference in both “Karma” and “Vigilante Shit.” In “Karma,” Swift sings, “Spiderboy, king of thieves / Weave your little webs of opacity / My pennies made your crown.”
Important info for fellow Swifties listening to Vigilante Shit and Karma: Scooter Braun is an investor in 100 Thieves (“picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife” and “king of thieves”) 👀💀
— natalie (@heyhellonat) October 21, 2022
Has anything come out before about Braun’s reputation?
Insider released a detailed exposé about Braun in March 2022, writing that Braun has “gone to great lengths to distinguish himself as a good guy: a family-oriented philanthropist with a strong moral code, known for steering artists out of rough patches. But many say that far from being an exception in a particularly ugly industry, Braun is one of its most ruthless players—a relentless egotist whose main focus is burnishing his image and growing his empire. The majority [of sources] asked that their names not be used out of fear of retaliation, citing Braun’s reputation for litigiousness.” It is worth reading in full here, as it is one of the most heavily reported features to come out on Braun’s reputation.
One of the most striking details in the piece was its portrayal of Braun’s handling of Bieber, with multiple sources telling Insider that when Bieber was dating Selena Gomez, Braun was a “quasi-parental figure” to Bieber and “appeared to be enmeshed in nearly all aspects” of his life, including his relationship with Gomez.
One source privy to Gomez and Braun’s dynamic told the outlet that over time, “[there] definitely got to be bad blood between the two camps.”
Another source with knowledge of the dynamic told Insider that Swift, Gomez’s longtime friend, was “appalled by the way Braun handled aspects of Bieber and Gomez’s relationship.” Insider wrote that it “was one of the reasons Swift went after Braun so hard” after he purchased her catalog in 2019.
Braun’s attorney Marty Singer told Insider that the claim about Swift was “ridiculous,” and said that Braun “continues to have a very good relationship with Selena.”
Gomez did not comment on that, but in 2019, she did defend Swift when news of Braun acquiring her masters came out. “My heart is so heavy right now,” she started her statement. “It makes me sick and extremely angry. (I don’t mind if there may be retaliation) this is my opinion. It’s greed, manipulation, and power. There is no heart or thought of anyone else. No respect for the words my friend has written since she was a 14-year-old in her bedroom. You’ve robbed and crushed one of our best song writers of our time an opportunity to celebrate all of her music with her fans and the world.”
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