Scooter Braun on the Importance of Paying It Forward, His Upcoming Midem Keynote & Award

Bryce Duffy
Scoouter Braun

"This isn’t something we do once and walk away. We have to continue to use our platform to help people."

When Scooter Braun organized the One Love Manchester concert in June 2017, he was already fully aware of the “universal change” music had the power to effect. But, on a personal level, he tells Billboard no show he had done before “was as important as what we did in Manchester.”

The contribution hasn’t gone unnoticed. On June 7, the superstar manager of Justin BieberAriana Grande and others will deliver a keynote at Midem in Cannes and will also receive the organization’s first Midem Hall of Fame Award for his contributions to the music industry and to creativity as a whole. Billboard spoke with Braun in advance of his Midem appearance about One Love, the state of the music industry and the importance of helping others. 

Given that Midem is a place of convergence for the industry and for so many aspiring artists, what will you be talking about?

I think everyone’s expecting a conversation about the state of the industry and I’ll definitely talk about that. But, at this moment, I’d rather talk about the opportunity we have to help the world via our platform as the music industry. The music industry is an incredibly important platform and with the state of the world we have not only an opportunity but also a responsibility, and that's one of the things I want to really address because it’s going to be an international stage and music is an international audience. 

Was the One Love concert an aha moment for you, where you realized you could effect change more than you ever imagined? 

No. I always felt music could make a universal change and I’ve witnessed that with the shows we’ve done. I never felt a show was as important as what we did in Manchester, as far as my career goes. I’ve never been a part as something in my own career that was as significant and important to do. Instead of being an aha moment it put a burden of responsibility more on our team to say, “This isn’t something we do once and walk away. We have to continue to use our platform to help people.”  

With respect to that, any concrete plans you can share?

We’ll continue to do charitable work. And each individual artist and part of our company will continue to have elements to give back.  But I don't think this is a one-person effort. There are times when the baton will be passed to me and my team. [Music managers] Ron Laffitte and Coran Capshaw called me and said, hey we’re doing something in Charlottesville and Ariana and I were part of that. It’s not something only one person does. 

Do you think the music industry needs to be more active?

Yes. Obviously we’re not doing enough if this is the state of the world. If you have the ability to help, you should. 

What is the biggest change you’ve had to make in how you approach your business?  

I prefer to address most of it in Midem, but over the last 10 years I don’t think there’s an industry that has been disrupted so many times. I want to address my ideas and my friends’ thoughts as to where are we going from here; what will the relationships be like with the streaming services; who are the new players; how do we as young entrepreneurs move forward in this industry and find our best success? But I think the fun part of it is no matter how the industry shifts, it all starts with music. 

What advice would you give to new artists there?

There’s a fine line between success and failure. And usually success is right past failure. So keep going. 

You have two little kids. Are they aware of what you do? 

I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old and I said to my son the other day, “Do you know what daddy does for work?” And he said, “No!” And he looked at me and said, “Daddy, what do you do?” 

Part of being a parent is trying to instill in your kid things you hope they'll take on. So I thought about the question my 3-and-a-half-year-old asked me and I was unsure what to say. And I responded with, “Daddy helps people and someday you need to help people too.”