Justin Bieber: Time for an Intervention?
As one of music's top earners continues to struggle in public, Justin Bieber is advised by some to "disappear for a little while."
For a fleeting moment on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m. ET seemed like an opportune time for Justin Bieber to premiere his latest music video, "Confident," on Vevo. After being arrested Jan. 23 in Miami Beach on suspicion of driving under the influence, he spent GRAMMY weekend in Panama Beach, Fla., riding out the media firestorm that awaited him back in Miami as well as Los Angeles.
But just an hour after the six-minute "Confident" clip went live, Bieber had turned himself in to Toronto police in connection with an alleged assault of a limousine driver that occurred early in the morning on Dec. 30, 2013. Throngs of fans and photographers awaited Bieber's exit outside a Toronto police station, just as 100,000-plus Americans had signed a petition demanding Bieber be deported — some may well have signed it as a joke, but it now requires an official White House response.
Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge told the United Kingdom's Independent at UMG's GRAMMY after-party that the singer "needs an intervention" and that he's been concerned about Bieber "for many months." Grainge added, "We are going to give all the support as a company to take as much pressure [as possible] off him so he can look forward."
Bieber's longtime manager Scooter Braun couldn't be reached for comment when contacted through PR firm Hiltzik Strategies, which has retained clients like Alec Baldwin and Manti Te'o for crisis communications.
As Billboard.com reported in December, Bieber is expected to have a quiet 2014, with a possible fourth-quarter album, as the star takes time off. (He hasn't had a vacation longer than two weeks since the age of 12.) And music industry insiders think time away could benefit both his well-being and business. "At this point, Justin Bieber needs to disappear for a little while and come back with a hit record," says Marcie Allen, president of music-branding agency MAC Presents, "because we all know everyone loves a comeback."
Should Team Bieber make the right moves in the coming months, there's a lot of momentum at stake for 2015 and beyond. Heading into 2013, Bieber was coming off a career-best year in 2012 in which his album "Believe Acoustic" became his fifth to reach the summit of the Billboard 200 (a record for an artist under the age of 19); singles "Girlfriend," "As Long As You Love Me" and "Beauty & the Beat" became top 10 hits; and he began a successful tour in support of "Believe." His combined U.S. royalties from album and track sales, both physical and digital, as well as touring receipts were enough to rank Bieber at No. 10 on Billboard's 2012 Moneymakers list last spring, with $15.9 million in estimated take-home revenue.
And under Braun, his personal business ventures and endorsements were thriving. His Someday fragrance (sold to Elizabeth Arden in 2012) was the second-biggest-selling celebrity scent next to Taylor Swift's Wonderstruck during the 12-month period from October 2011 to September 2012, according to NPD Group. That was enough to net millions for Bieber and his charity Pencils of Promise for his share in the product's sales, and launch two more equally successful fragrances in its wake (Girlfriend and the Key). An endorsement deal for Proactiv kept him visible throughout 2012 before it came to an end in March 2013, as did a campaign for Adidas that began airing this past fall that featured Bieber as the face of its Neo line. And tech investments in companies like Stamped (sold to Yahoo for $10 million in 2012) and RockLive (maker of selfie app Shots of Me) helped diversify his profile as an entertainer with an entrepreneurial spirit in the vein of Ashton Kutcher and Lady Gaga.
Bieber was also gaining traction as an increasing top draw on the road, with 105 of his 150-plus dates on the Believe tour (which started in September 2012) reported to Billboard Boxscore grossing a cumulative $133.2 million in ticket revenue, with attendance by 1.6 million fans. That's enough to net $30 million in global receipts for Bieber from the 2013 dates alone, a record high for the singer. And merch sales from touring and retail totaled an estimated $8 million in 2013 — a sign that Bieber dolls with his once-signature hairstyle have become a small part of his portfolio.
(Additional reporting by Ed Christman.)