Scooter Braun doesn’t want you to believe all those terrible stories about him

The famed manager for artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande “personifies hypocrisy at the highest level,” per a new exposé.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Scooter Braun is seen on February 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California...
TM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

Scooter Braun is not the nice guy he desperately wants to be seen as. A new Insider exposé details the two sides to the famed music manager and business mogul: one in which he’s been lauded as a miracle worker for artists, and another in which he has perpetually burned bridges as a ruthless manipulator.

"That's the open secret about Scooter in the industry. He personifies hypocrisy at the highest level,” said one source in the story, which is chock-full of unnamed sources who asked to remain anonymous. They apparently fear retaliation from Braun, who represents superstar clients such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. The story tracks multiple behind-the-scenes scenarios that paint Braun as a questionable operator, including an opening anecdote centered around a 2018 meeting with one of his former clients, Kanye West, while the unsure rapper briefly signed away part of his fashion business Yeezy to a manufacturer in China.

After signing, “West confronted Braun in front of several people, yelling at him and accusing him of trying to ‘trick’ West and ‘take advantage of him making him sign away Yeezy to someone else.’ He proclaimed that all Braun wanted was his commission, the person said. Braun was ‘thoroughly insulted,’ the person added, and tore up the deal, which hadn't yet been given to the lawyers; the next day, he told West they should stop working together.” The situation may have been informed by what other sources claim: that Braun had attempted to take “an ownership interest” in Yeezy two years earlier, around the time West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Many situations have involved Braun working in controversial ways specifically at times of vulnerability for his star clients. The rapper Lil Twist, who was a close friend of Justin Bieber’s during the pop star’s publicly tumultuous period circa 2012-2014, claims that Braun had planted stories about him to cast him as a “scapegoat” for Bieber’s public behavior, even apparently taking the fall on a marijuana possession charge. When Madison Beer, a former client of Braun’s, had nudes leaked of her as a 14-year old, “a person close to the project said Braun seemed to lose interest in developing Beer's career once the images started making the rounds. ‘As soon as something bad happened, he jumped ship,’ the person said. ‘He needed to preserve his focus on Justin [Bieber].’”

The story also speculates on Braun’s involvement in turning Ariana Grande’s relationship with Pete Davidson, who Braun introduced Grande to, into the “Thank U Next” sensation that the subsequent breakup became. “Davidson felt ‘blindsided’ by the release, a person close to the situation said. ‘I think their relationship didn't get a fair shake because management was so involved.’”

In some cases, his ability to become a reliable spin doctor for stars has been potentially damaging for the clients themselves: the story points to his coming on to manage Demi Lovato and producing a big Youtube documentary that focused perhaps too neatly and pre-emptively on a redemption arc for them (Lovato checked into rehab less than a year after the documentary). “‘I don't think the film should have been made yet,’ one person close to Lovato said. ‘There was more healing that needed to be done.’”

Braun played a prominent role on-camera in the documentary’s narrative, and the exposé identifies a pattern of Braun’s persistent need to maintain an uncharacteristically front-and-center image not only as a manager, but also as a “good guy” who is “a family-oriented philanthropist with a strong moral code.” In a documentary for his reggaeton star client J. Balvin, Braun appears on camera as the person who pushes Balvin to take a political stance on youth protests in Colombia.

"I don't think you can pretend to be the nice guy on social media but, behind the scenes, be one of the most cutthroat people in the business," one industry source in the story said. "This is a very small business. You just run out of people to screw."

The piece reveals no specific details about Braun’s highly publicized feud with Taylor Swift over her recording masters. But one source claims that Braun’s treatment of Selena Gomez, Swift’s best friend, while she was in a relationship with Bieber “was one of the reasons Swift went after Braun so hard after he purchased her masters in 2019.”

The feud with Swift, which has prompted the public to turn on Braun’s carefully constructed image, has apparently led to Braun now crafting his own redemption arc — Braun is in the midst of a divorce, a contentious lawsuit against a former business partner, and recently lost star client Kid Laroi. On a podcast last summer with life coach Jay Shetty, he spoke vaguely of his struggles and checking himself into a celeb healing retreat.

"It was just feeling like I wasn't present in my life, and [feeling] like the people around me who loved me, I felt their hurt. And I couldn't fix it and I'm a fixer, and because I couldn't fix things I started to spiral," Braun told Shetty. "I'd been playing that chess game for so long that the board was getting away from me.”