The “Young Irving Azoff” raised funds to make him one of the music business’ most powerful managers for years to come
There’s more to Scooter Braun than Justin Bieber, whom Braun signed in 2009 when the YouTube child star was barely 15 years old and helped turn him into a global superstar. Then, in 2012, he snagged the Wanted, Carly Rae Jepsen and K-pop phenom PSY. And last year Braun showed that he could work his mojo on other stars, breaking Ariana Grande, Martin Garrix and Tori Kelly.
Grande’s debut album, "Yours Truly," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in September, selling 138,000 copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan), while Kelly’s second EP, Foreward, bowed at No. 16 in November with sales of 16,000. That same month, Garrix’s EDM track “Animals” hit No. 1 on the U.K. chart during its first week of release.
But Braun’s biggest move last year may have been his dealmaking rather than his talent-spotting. He teamed with Overland Park, Kan.-based money manager Waddell & Reed, which took a stake in his business for around $90 million, according to people familiar with the deal. They then raised a cash fund valued at $120 million-$150 million that Braun will use to acquire stakes in other artist management firms including Troy Carter’s Atom Factory (which recently lost Lady Gaga but now has John Mayer, Miguel and John Legend) and Nashville manager Jason Owen’s Sandbox Management (Shania Twain, Little Big Town).
The deal has earned him the moniker “Young Irving Azoff” in music circles in reference to one of the business’ most powerful and charismatic artist managers, who built his power base by rolling up a big group of fellow managers.
If Braun has faced one challenge this year, it’s handling the drama around the hyped media interest in every move of his global teenage superstar Bieber. Most recently Braun masterfully managed speculation about whether the 19-year-old would “retire” from music after releasing a collection of songs called Journals. Braun, who often fondly refers to Bieber as his “younger brother,” defused stories stemmingfrom Bieber’s own Twitter comments.