Scooter Scandal

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Phots: Getty Images

In this summer of celebrity breakups, no relationship is safe — not even the ones between pop superstars and their semi-famous managers. A flurry of recent rumors suggests some kind of mass talent exodus from renowned music-industry guy Scooter Braun is underway, though why he and these artists are parting ways remains a mystery. In the past several days, reports with varying degrees of confirmation have claimed that Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and Idina Menzel have all left Braun’s cadre.

Until now, Braun was best known for a convoluted feud with Taylor Swift, whose masters he bought in 2019, leading Swift to rerecord a significant portion of her music catalogue. (Somewhere, she is throwing a boxed-wine-and-popcorn party to celebrate whatever the hell is going on here.)

Then, in mid-August, Puck News reported that Bieber, whom Braun plucked out of acoustic Canadian YouTube anonymity and ushered into heartthrob-dom in 2008, has been estranged from his mentor for months and is looking for new management. Representatives for both Bieber and Braun adamantly denied the report, but Puck stood by its story. Variety also has a source that claims the Bieber-Braun break is real. Billboard cited alleged insiders who claimed Bieber had fired his agency, CAA, and replaced his music lawyer Aaron Rosenberg (whom Braun helped hire) in the hopes of extricating himself from a contract that commits him to Braun through 2027.

The rumors kept rolling in after that. Matthew Belloni, Puck’s co-founder and the same reporter who broke the Bieber news, tweeted that Grande had also left the Braun building, which Billboard confirmed with more anonymous sources who claimed Grande had “outgrown” Braun and was “excited to go in a different direction” — all amicably, though. Here again, though, other informants “close to Braun” denied to Variety that Grande had left, and the singer’s team didn’t respond to requests for comment.

At the same time, a smattering of outlets citing unnamed sources added that Lovato had left Braun’s management in July, with some claiming that the split was amicable. (Variety claims to have verified this with Braun’s and Lovato’s reps off the record.) By Tuesday, Idina Menzel had hopped on the maybe-existent bandwagon, though her decision reportedly predates all the rest — The Hollywood Reporter claims she stopped working with Braun in January. Representatives for other artists — Carly Rae Jepsen, BabyJake, and Asher Roth — told AP News their clients hadn’t worked with Scooter in a long time, though no one seems to have specified when everyone parted ways.

The party line from a horde of mysterious informants that sound a lot like Braun’s team is that he’s been gradually stepping away from hands-on talent management to focus on being the CEO of HYBE America, a subsidiary of a South Korean mega-entertainment company. (As for how Braun ended up there: Hybe acquired Braun’s holding company, Ithaca, in 2021, at which point he joined its board and stepped in as CEO of Hybe America. Also, he met BTS at the White House. You’re caught up now!) Within that framing, dropping a couple clients is both natural and done of Braun’s own accord, with the eventual goal of stepping away from managing duties. Braun shared his own take on the gossip Tuesday via an extremely Muskian tweet that said, “Breaking news … I’m no longer managing myself.” Okay …?

Other people — who are, you guessed it, anonymous — are insinuating that another shoe will drop. One source suggested to Variety that some severely reputation-damaging information about Braun is looming on the horizon, explaining that “It’s a different world since the pandemic. You just can’t be an asshole like that anymore.” Apparently, because he can no longer get away with being a dick, the source says Braun is “imploding.” Can you hear Taylor Swift screaming in victory?

There are about 17 rumors too many for all of this Scoondal to be made up. Sure, the exodus appears a tinge less sudden when you look at the timeline of when these departures are alleged to have happened. But Braun’s professional future seems pretty up in the air, and however things shake out, you’d be wise not to buy stock in Razor anytime soon.

Why Is Everyone Dumping Scooter Braun?