When news broke this week that Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, (possibly) Justin Bieber, and other influential musicians were reportedly parting ways with music manager Scooter Braun, my first reaction was: Good. Upon further reflection, though, I realised I had absolutely zero idea why this was good; I’d absorbed a general aura of Scooter-Braun-is-problematic energy via osmosis but didn’t actually know a single thing about the man except that Taylor Swift is not a fan (reason enough for me, I guess!).
An Entertainment Weekly story published on Tuesday offers a semi-rebuttal of the ongoing gossip about celebs ditching Braun, with a music-industry source noting Braun’s recent move into a new role and telling the publication: “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 rumours 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.”
While it’s too soon to tell if that’s just a damage-control spin, here’s why, exactly, music fans are rooting against Braun:
Who is Scooter Braun?
Braun began his career as a party promoter in Atlanta and quickly rose to the upper echelons of the music industry after rapper and producer Jermaine Dupri hired him. His big break came in the late aughts when a then preteen Justin Bieber hit the scene. Some (okay, me) have theorised that the dynamic between the pop star and his producer was the inspiration for the relationship between fictitious teen idol Chase Dreams and his overprotective music manager Streeter Peters on the HBO series The Other Two.
What’s a brief summary of the Braun vs. Swift debacle?
In 2019, Braun took the side of ex-client Kanye West in his famous beef with Taylor Swift before going on to purchase Swift’s former label, Big Machine Records (and thus the rights to six of her albums). Swift responded in a lengthy Tumblr post, writing: “My musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it. This is my worst case scenario.”
Has Braun been involved in other controversies?
A lengthy and detailed 2022 Business Insider report by Anna Silman noted that Braun had built a reputation in the industry for falling out with former clients and being ruthlessly careerist. “I’ve never seen anyone burn so many bridges with so many people,” one source told Silman. The singer Madison Beer reportedly had a difficult work experience with Braun after private images of her were leaked, with a source noting that “as soon as something bad happened, [Braun] jumped ship.” The story also details the devolution of the working relationship between Braun and singer Todrick Hall, with whom he began collaborating in 2013; Hall has spoken openly about his negative experiences with Braun.
Why are so many celebrities saying so long to Braun now?
Honestly, I don’t know, and I refuse to speculate, but watch this space!
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.