July 19, 2024

Scooter Braun, who had unofficially stepped back from managing such top artists as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande at least two years ago, finally made it official on Monday: He is stepping back from being a manager to focus on being CEO of HYBE America, the company to which he sold his own Ithaca Holdings company in 2021, and to focus on his family. He made the announcement via a nearly 1,400-word statement that follows in full below.

Beginning with Justin Bieber in the late 2000s and continuing with Ariana Grande and multiple others, Braun quickly became one of the most successful and hard-charging executives in the music industry. By the age of 40, he and his SB Projects company had achieved many of his David Geffen-sized ambitions, ushering several artists to superstardom and, remarkably, organizing “One Love Manchester” — a major charity concert starring Grande, Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Mac Miller, Miley Cyrus and more in the wake of a 2017 terrorist bombing outside a Grande concert in which 22 people died — in just two weeks.

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But his reputation took a lethal hit with his controversial 2018 acquisition of the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums via his purchase of Big Machine Record Group, which she claimed was underhanded, to put it mildly, and followed months of taunts from Braun and some of his clients and friends at the time, including Bieber and Kanye West. Despite her scathing statements against him — and her fans’ merciless attacks on social media — he managed to sell that catalog to Shamrock Holdings for some $300 million, earning a tidy profit, and then sold Ithaca Holdings to HYBE for a whopping $1.05 billion.

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Shortly afterward, rumors began to emerge that some of Braun’s clients were unhappy, and fully burst into the open last summer when reports said that both Bieber and Grande had parted ways with him; despite initial denials from SB, that news was confirmed later in the year, along with off-the-record comments that Braun had long since stepped back from management.

In his long and rather flowery statement, Braun speaks fondly of his clients over the years — including his first client, Asher Roth, along with Bieber, Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy, Lil Dicky, Tori Kelly, Demi Lovato, J Balvin, Quavo, Zac Brown, Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Steve Angello, producer Andrew Watt, YG, Kid Laroi, Dan + Shay and longtime business partner Usher — and says he has left the management company in good hands with Alison Kaye and Jenn McDaniel.

Read the full statement below:

23 years. 23 years. That’s how long I have been a music manager. 23 years ago a 19 year old kid started managing an artist named Cato in Atlanta, GA and my journey began. Along the way I have had so many experiences I could never have dreamt of. I have been blessed to have had a “Forrest Gump”-like life while witnessing and taking part in the journeys of some of the most extraordinarily talented people the world has ever seen. I’m constantly pinching myself and asking “how did I get here?”

And after 23 years this chapter as a music manager has come to an end.

It’s a strange feeling because I think I have wanted this for a while, but I was truly afraid to answer the question “who would I be without them?” I was really just 19 years old when I started. So for my entire adult life I played the role of an artist manager on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And for 20 years I loved it. It’s all I had known. But as my children got older, and my personal Iife took some hits, I came to the realization that my kids were 3 superstars I wasn’t willing to lose. The sacrifices I was once willing to make I could no longer justify. It was time to step into a new role.

In this next chapter I have been honored to join as a board member of Hybe and serve as the CEO of Hybe America. My brilliant partner these past 3 years, Chairman Bang [Si-Hyuk], has a vision I truly believe in. But even beyond that he has become a true friend who understands where I must be in my life these days. And that is a father first, a CEO second, and a manager no more.

Over the past 2 years I have been heading towards this destination, but it wasn’t until last summer that this new chapter became a reality. One of my biggest clients and friends told me that they wanted to spread their wings and go in a new direction. We had been through so much together over the last decade, but instead of being hurt I saw it as a sign. You see, life doesn’t hand you YOUR plan, it hands you GOD’s plan. And God has been pushing me in this direction for some time. I have nothing but love for those I have worked with over the years, and as we develop a different working relationship, I will always be in their corner to consult and support them whether it be directly or from afar. Every client I have had the privilege of working with has changed my life, and I know many of them are just beginning to see the success they deserve. I will cheer for every single one of them.

I have gotten to see my friend Andrew Watt win the Grammy for Producer of the year. I have laughed and cried as Lil Dicky truly became DAVE. I have witnessed an angel of a human Tori Kelly win Grammys and star in films. I have seen J Balvin live out his dreams of breaking boundaries, and Demi show kindness and grace that few megastars have. I have been moved as Zac Brown Band raised our flag and delivered the hits. I was excited the first time I heard Animals with Martin Garrix, and learned a new world with David Guetta and Steve Angello. I have danced to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and smiled ear to ear as PSY brought us Gangnam Style. I have watched Quavo grow to be an entrepreneur, and served as Kanye’s “gateway drug to business” as we had amazing years of success when I was once able to call him my friend. I have marched with YG and flown to Australia with Laroi to see the hometown kid rock an arena. I have seen Dan + Shay go from local Nashville writers to sold out headliners and award winners. The list of artists goes on and on over 23 years. So many stories it would take me forever to name. From those first years with Asher Roth to watching my partner and brother Usher dominate the Super Bowl this year, it is truly overwhelming.

But it was this past Christmas Day when Ariana and Justin became the biggest male and female in the history of the Spotify Billions club that I just smiled and thought “what a ride.” Justin and Ariana were both young teenagers when I began with them. Justin a 13 year old kid busking in Canada and Ariana a young actress on Nickelodeon. To see them both come up to be the legends they are today will forever be one of my greatest honors. As we change our working relationships now, I will continue to root for them with the same passion that I did at each of their humble beginnings. I remember the pranks and the water park shows with Justin, and the first time Ari opened an arena tour and her excitement side stage. I remember as they both stepped up for others and I got to witness them each change the world and make history. There will never be a day where I don’t take great pride and honor in what we accomplished together. The same can be said for so many I have had the pleasure of once being called “manager”.

There has been a lot said about what is happening in our company… and in my career. When we had success I smiled, and when we were attacked I tried to always take the high road. But for the last 3 years I have begun to feel that taking the high road has created confusion and ambiguity as to who we are. I may have left my role in management, and my business relationship with many clients will alter and change, but this does not mean we as a company are leaving. Both Allison Kaye and Jennifer McDaniels are more than capable to lead and as we combine new resources the opportunities with their leadership are endless. These two incredibly powerful women will now step into a role that I know will grow into the most impressive women-led management business our industry has even seen. While my name may have been on the door all these years, the truth is there is no one as brilliant as Allison Kaye, and few who can manage with the grace and poise of Jen McDaniels.

 We at Hybe will continue to grow. With the addition of QC to Hybe America and our existing business at Big Machine, we will continue to add amazing execs and artists to the roster. Our WeVerse platform and growing gaming unit is something the whole industry can celebrate and join. Getting the opportunity to A&R and Executive Produce the solo career of Jung Kook last summer, and work with the other members of BTS as we break worldwide records, has been an absolute honor. With new acts like NewJeans, TXT, LE SSERAFIM, Seventeen, ILLIT, The Scarlet Opera, Ava Max, and many other new artists and ventures, the future is bright. I’m honored to join Chairman Bang and Jiwon Park as we grow HYBE from the multi-billion dollar publicly traded company it is today to the worldwide multifaceted entertainment platform it is destined to be. With Hybe going strong I am also looking forward to continuing to invest in a new generation of entrepreneurs and serve as a national board member of Make A Wish and help individuals and communities through our family’s Braun Foundation. Between all of this and coaching my kids I’m not worried about being busy 🙂

So yes, it’s been 23 years. And yes, this chapter has come to an end. But the great Berry Gordy once told me “young man, it never ends the way you wanted, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.” That wisdom has proven to be correct. I never saw how this chapter would end, hell, I never even saw it happening. But it did. And I will cherish every moment of it. I made my plan… but it turns out I like God’s plan better. Cheers!