Scooter Braun’s empire appears to be crumbling. As headlines continue to roll in about artists parting ways with the controversial music mogul, we can’t help but wonder: maybe Taylor Swift was onto something?
Scooter Braun famously fell out with Taylor Swift over her masters (more on that in a minute). Until recently, however, his roster of talent included some of the biggest names in the business: Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato among them.
Now, two of those names – Ariana and Demi – have split from Braun’s label SB Projects, along with famed singer and Frozen star Idina Menzel.
Justin Bieber, who Braun famously discovered when the Canadian singer was a 13-year-old YouTube star, has reportedly been sniffing around for new management (both Bieber and Braun’s representatives have denied the report).
All this movement has many people dubious about the nature of the departures, and the air of secrecy that seems to surround them.
Here, we dive into everything you need to know about this unusual moment in the hallowed halls of the Hollywood elite.
The Mass Exodus From Scooter Braun’s SB Projects: A Timeline
August 21: Demi Lovato Confirmed To Be Leaving SB Projects
Rolling Stone confirmed that Lovato would no longer work with Scooter Braun after a four-year stint. The singer (who identifies as non-binary but uses she/her pronouns) parted with the entertainment manager in mid July, but only announced the split four weeks later. She’s yet to partner with new management.
While no details were shared, a Billboard report suggested the split was amicable, writing that it was “time for Lovato to go in a new direction, even though she was thankful for her time with SB Projects.”
August 22: Ariana Grande Rumoured To Be Leaving SB Projects
The day after Demi Lovato’s news went live, sources told Billboard that Ariana Grande was also leaving the company and management of Scooter Braun. Grande has been with the company for 10 years, signing before her debut 2013 album Yours Truly dropped. She’s stayed with Braun throughout her career, bar a brief departure in 2016. Braun was back managing her later that same year.
Braun told MTV when he signed her, “I kept seeing this girl online. And I knew she had a show that she was involved in on Nickelodeon [Victorious], and I would see her at different award shows and there was something very charismatic about her.”
Grande’s reps are yet to officially comment on the split, and it is not known if she is still officially under contract.
August 22: Idina Menzel Has Already Left SB Projects
After Grande and Lovato’s news, Billboard reported that Idina Menzel has not been under Braun’s management for months, having left in January 2023.
The Frozen singer has declined to comment on her exit. She signed a four-year contract with Scooter Braun in 2019.
August 22: J Balvin Departed SB Productions For New Contract
Billboard also reported that J Balvin, who signed with Braun in 2019, parted ways with the company back in May 2023.
Shortly after his departure he joined up at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which hosts other big names the likes of Alicia Keys, Big Sean, Christina Aguilera and DJ Khaled.
Why Are No Celebrities Speaking Out?
The celebrities involved have been notoriously quiet during the Scooter Braun exodus, with publications reporting on sources and whispers without any official comment from the celebrities themselves.
As Variety put it, “Reps are stonewalling and insiders are clamming up fast; it’s like trying to get an accurate status update on Fight Club or Voldemort.”
There appears to be an air of secrecy around this story that one cannot ignore. People on X have begun to expect that something big is happening, but what, they don’t yet know.
“Whoever is sitting on the inevitable Scooter Braun article, JUST PRESS SEND, its good enough as it is, we promise,” one wrote.
Are Artists Leaving Because They Like Scooter Braun?
While there is a lot of animosity towards Scooter Braun in public discourse, we can’t rule out that artists are leaving due to his waning presence at SB Projects.
Sources told Variety that Braun is stepping back from day-to-day management at SB Projects to put his energy towards his new role as CEO of HYBE America, a South Korean entertainment company that manages K-pop bands, including BTS. (Braun sold SB Projects’ parent company Ithica Holdings to HYBE in 2021.)
“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,” the source said.
“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.”
Why Do Fans Think The Mass Exodus Is Due To Something Bad?
Scooter Braun’s long-running feud with American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has been widely publicised.
In 2019, Braun purchased the label that signed Taylor Swift when she was just 15, Big Machine Records. This transfer of property also made Braun the owner of all of Swift’s master records for her first six studio albums.
“For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work,” Swift shared in a retaliatory post after she found out online that her masters had been sold.
“Instead, I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in.
“I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, [Big Machine Records CEO] Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past.”
In November 2020, Braun sold Swift’s discography to an investment fund in a deal worth more than $300 million, despite Swift making it known that she would have liked to have purchased and owned her own music.
Swift has said she was “sad and grossed out” when she found out he had owned her music.
“I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” she shared.
She included a reference to when his client Kanye West organised the ‘Famous’ video, which included a CGI Taylor Swift naked in bed with him.
“His client, Kanye West, organized a revenge porn music video which strips my body naked. Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it,” she wrote. “This is my worst case scenario.”
Swift has since re-recorded most of her albums under the ‘Taylor’s Version’ moniker, with the exceptions (so far) of Debut and Reputation. 1989 (Taylor’s Version), is due to be released on 27 October.
Is This Related To The Lawsuit Against Scooter Braun?
In 2021, Scooter Braun was embroiled in a $200 million legal dispute over a private equity fund.
It’s quite a complicated bit of legal dealing, but essentially a man named Peter Comisar, vice chairman of investment banking at Guggenheim Securities, filed a lawsuit against Braun and business manager David Bolno, who were allegedly trying to recruit Comisar for a new private equity fund they were working on.
Comisar said he would come on board with a series of stipulations that were agreed to, but in 2018, he alleged Braun rejected his financial commitments and stopped the funding for the project, including Comisar’s salary.
Braun alleged that Comisar was “unable to get a single investor to invest.” The lawsuit was launched in June 2021 and according to Variety, reached a confidential settlement in 2022. There was never any mention of the FBI being involved in the case.
Why Do People Think Taylor Swift Knows More?
Fans believe Taylor Swift’s song ‘Vigilante S**t’ on Midnights may be about Braun. The lyrics include the line, “While he was doing lines / And crossing all of mine / Someone told his white collar crimes to the FBI.”
ELLE Australia is not suggesting Braun is guilty of federal crimes.
The same song also mentions a divorce and financial settlement, which some think is a reference to Braun’s divorce from his wife.
The album was released in October 2022 with the lyrics:
She needed cold hard proof so I gave her some
She had the envelope, where you think she got it from?
Now she gets the house, gets the kids, gets the pride
Picture me thick as thieves with your ex-wife
And she looks so pretty
Driving in your Benz
Lately she’s been dressing for revenge
Braun and Yael Cohen separated in July 2021, with Braun filing for divorce in December 2021. Responding to his filing, Cohen cited “irreconcilable differences”. Braun agreed to pay Cohen US $20 million in the settlement, although they share joint custody of their three children.
Who Does Scooter Braun Still Manage?
While Braun has lost some of his biggest name clients, he still looks after the likes of Ashley Graham, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tori Kelly and more. Australian singer The Kid Laroi re-signed with Braun back in 2022.
It appears he still manages Justin Bieber, with his representative saying reports of a move are “not true”. However the journalist behind the original Puck report, Matthew Belloni, responded on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Bieber is still contractually bound to Braun, which may impact his response.
It’s a ‘watch this space’ situation at present. Whether there is some news regarding Braun about to drop, whether the artists are simply dissatisfied with his management given the changes with HYBE or if there’s something else at play, we don’t know.
For now, we are all left wondering, is Scooter Braun’s castle finally crumbling?