On the same day that his Schoolboy Records imprint announced a label and distribution deal with Universal Music Group, Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun was honored with the SoundWAV Award at the Third Annual FlashFWD Awards, which toasted a handful of innovators of new technology in the music business on Tuesday night (May 15). Holding his trophy in his left hand while sitting on a couch downstairs at New York's Gramercy Theatre after the awards ceremony, the 30-year-old entrepreneur told Billboard that his new partnership with UMG chairman Lucian Grainge was the next step of expanding his multi-faceted business.
"My business is a lot of different places -- we have a television development company, we have a film development company, we're investing in tech. But Lucian is an incredibly forward-thinking individual who happens to be the chairman of the most powerful music company in the world," says Braun. "And he wants to embrace young people. One of the things he does that I love is, once a month, he tries to bring in interns, temps, anyone from all over the company, and have a lunch with them. Just let them talk about what works, what doesn't work, and… absorb it. He understands that he doesn't want to embrace the old business."
Founded by Braun in 2007, Schoolboy Records' roster now includes Bieber, Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen (whose recent single "Call Me Maybe" has sold 2.1 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan) and "I Love College" rapper/recent Def Jam signee Asher Roth. Although the Top 40 domination of Braun's roster is impressive -- Bieber, Jepsen and The Wanted, the U.K. pop vocal group managed by Braun, currently own three spots in the Top 10 of the Hot 100 -- the former party promoter says that partnering with Grainge will establish a stronger global presence for the artists. "If you want to take it to that level where your goal is to make the biggest artists on the planet, you need partners who are going to be in every single marketplace," says Braun. "I knew that when I was a party promoter -- I never threw a party in a marketplace that I didn't know without a partner in that marketplace. You need someone who knows their own backyard."
Braun constantly tells his artists to avoid complacency -- Bieber, Jepsen and Roth have all scored hit singles, for instance, but right now, Braun's personal goal is for one of his artists to land at No. 1 on the Hot 100, a chart peak he has never seen. "Call Me Maybe" climbed to No. 4 on last week's tally, but has been stonewalled by alternative artists like Gotye and Fun. "It's got to get there!" Braun says of the song.
But on Tuesday night, all eyes were focused on Braun, who accepted the SoundWAV Award from Translation LLC founder/CEO Steve Stoute. More than anything, Braun hopes that his success story inspires other young entrepreneurs.
"I looked to other executives before me, and I'm 30, and I plan on doing a lot more stuff," says Braun.
When asked which executives he looks up to Braun answers, "One, Lucian Grange, that's why I just did the deal with him. I read a book about David Geffen when I was 19 called "The Operator" [by Tom King], and it changed my life… I read a story about a guy who started in a mailroom and wouldn't take no for an answer, who changed entertainment forever and became one of the most powerful people in the business. He's someone I definitely look up to. Jeffrey Katzenburg, I look up to, who never took no for an answer, but at the same time is an incredible father and family man. That's something I really admire - people who can have the amount of success in business, but still prioritize."
And as far as him helping the up and coming, Braun has no problem helping the young guard. "I think it's all about lifting each other up, and hopefully some kid in that room where I was talking ends up being my boss someday. I think that would be pretty damn cool."