Scooter Braun on Ariana Grande's Devastation After Manchester, How He 'Failed' Justin Bieber and Fighting with Kanye
He’s the man behind some of music’s biggest stars — and now, he’s telling all.
Mega music manager Scooter Braun is interviewed in WSJ. Magazine’s Inaugural Style & Tech issue, and opens up about some of the pitfalls of the industry, as well as what it’s like working with A-list clients, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Kanye West.
“I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that as much as I love them, they might never love me the same way,” said Braun of his superstar line-up. “They might f— me and be like, ‘Thanks for working your ass off. Bye.’ I thought it would never happen to me. It has once, and I know it will again from the people I love most.”
Here’s what else Braun, 36, had to say.
On Bieber’s Public Meltdown
“Justin’s stuff got to a point where it was a problem,” Braun told WSJ. Magazine of Bieber’s struggles. He added, “It was worse than people realized.”
Braun said he places a lot of blame on himself: “I failed him day after day. We were living in hell because he was in such a dark place” — but Braun refused to give up on the now 23-year-old, even after “people invested in Justin’s career, told me, ‘It’s over. Focus on something else. That kid is done.'”
“I made a promise to him when he was 13 that I would never give up on him. I plan on keeping that promise,” he said, adding of Bieber: “He’s family. I think the relationship is more like a big brother, especially because he’s become a man. I think he’s seen the worst of himself, and to watch him rise out of it was amazing.”
On the Attack at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Concert
On May 22, a terrorist bombing killed 22 and injured more than 250 people at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England.
“Ariana, rightfully so, was distraught,” Braun said. “She was like, ‘I don’t think I could ever sing these songs again.'”
Braun said that after giving the star some space — and tackling the logistics of her remaining tour dates — Grande called him. “She said, ‘I’ve been thinking a lot, and if we don’t do something, everyone will have died in vain. So what’s your idea?’”
With Grande at the helm, Braun organized a benefit concert that raised more than $20 million for the victims and their families, quelling Grande’s concerns it was insensitive to hold the event so soon after the attacks.
Braun, in general, said he’s big on giving, telling WSJ. Magazine that every client deal must include a charitable component and that he encourages them to donate “50 percent quiet charity — you say nothing — and 50 percent that you show.”
Though things are now smooth sailing with Braun and Grande, he revealed she briefly fired him in February 2016. “It was nasty, but it wasn’t Ariana,” he told the publication.
On Agreeing to Work with Kanye West
West is a more recent addition to Braun’s team, having signed him as manager just last year.
“I said no nine times when Kanye asked me to work with him because I liked being friends with him,” Braun said. “Then he put me in a position where I couldn’t say no: He just told everyone I was his manager.”
Braun admits that his advisers told him he was “crazy” for signing West, “But I get joy out of being around the guy,” he said. “It’s not always easy. Nothing great is.”
FROM COINAGE: What Is The Grammy Bounce? (No, It’s Not A Dance Move)
“He is who he is, and he will never compromise. It doesn’t come from a place of selfishness,” Braun added. “Kanye’s the best listener I’ve ever worked with. If I interrupt Kanye, every single time, he’ll wait for me to finish before speaking. It’s a running joke — sometimes I interrupt him just to see. And he always goes, ‘No, no, finish. I want to hear what you have to say.’ We’ll have full-on yelling fights. Kanye likes it. Kanye wants you to tell him what you think.”
WSJ. Magazine’s Inaugural Style & Tech issue is out Oct. 7th.