Six key executives at SB Projects keep the client train rolling — and the boss in check.
Allison Kaye, 36, President of Music
Scooter Braun’s second in command, Kaye oversees the careers of every client on the SB Projects roster and has played an integral role in the company’s movie soundtrack supervision, film production, and philanthropic endeavors. She assisted the team that organized One Love Manchester and executive produced the Hand in Hand telethon a few months after.
Even after working at the company for a decade, Kaye says her favorite part of her job remains the same: breaking new artists. “Seeing an artist’s first album release and the first single and being a part of those moments — it takes you back and reminds you of what’s great about this business,” she says.“There seems to be something of an epidemic in the industry right now: A single doesn’t build a following. We really help our artists build long-standing careers.”
Kaye’s hard work has played a major role in successes such as Justin Bieber’s $250 million-grossing “Purpose” tour, a No. 1 debut from Dan + Shay on the Billboard Country Album Charts, and Ariana Grande’s first headlining stadium tour and Grammy-nominated singles.
Scott Manson, 36, Chief Operating Officer
The close friendship between Scott Manson and Scooter Braun goes all the way back to their late teens, when they met through one of Manson’s Duke University classmates. “I’ve been a cheerleader of Scooter’s since before the company was founded,” Manson says. In 2012 he left a major corporate law firm in Los Angeles to join SBP, where he spearheads corporate-development initiatives such as identifying and structuring partnerships for the company and its clients.
“We feel like we are years ahead of schedule, but we’re also just getting started,” Manson says. He marvels at the fact that when he joined SBP six years ago, the business was “pretty much run from Scooter’s bed and the Bieber tour bus.”
While Manson’s achievements include finding Internet sensation Psy and leading the company’s expansion beyond the realm of music, Manson himself is also a creator. He founded Silent Labs, a technology incubator with partners from Israel, and co-created the CBS TV drama “Scorpion,” which is now in its fourth season. He says creative skills enhance his ability to oversee business-development opportunities and regular operations at SBP.
Manson regularly communicates with James Shin (VP of Content Development) and Jules Ferree and Courtney Greenbaum, who are “pounding the pavement on brand partnerships as an avenue for drumming up dollars across the company and for our clients.”
How does Manson view Braun as a boss? “Scooter is one of these generational entrepreneurs that emerged from his age group and shot straight to the top,” he says. “I think that’s the best bet I’ve ever made.”
Michael George, 28, Artist Manager
George, who was named to this year’s Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, can pinpoint the day when he joined the company: March 3, 2013, after he graduated from Syracuse University’s Bandier Program for the music and entertainment industry.
He began booking music acts at local venues in his hometown of Merrick, N.Y., as a high school freshman. The first artist he managed, Hoodie Allen, had an agent with plenty of clout in the hip-hop world: Cara Lewis.
“She said that I reminded her of Scooter, and suggested I reach out to him,” George recalls. “That was the first time I’d heard of him. Lo and behold, my friend Olivia Zaro was his assistant [at the time].” She arranged a Skype meeting, which George recalls as lasting about 30 seconds — the time it took for Braun to insist that they meet in person.
“I flew out January 18, 2013 — it was a pretty big deal, that’s probably why I remember the dates so well,” he says. “He said he was impressed by everything I’ve accomplished with Hoodie and asked what hip-hop artist I’d like to sign next. I said, ‘we gotta get to dance music’ and he said, ‘You go do that.’” George connected with Martin Garrix soon after, and has been managing him ever since. His newest project is Eden, whom he signed a year and a half ago.
“I see all of the accolades we’ve earned and everything we’ve achieved as just the surface — the most impressive thing we’ve accomplished is the company culture,” George says of SBP’s Beverly Hills and New York-based teams. “It’s an exciting, invigorating, and inspiring place to work. Everybody is pushed to dream big and exceed those dreams.”
Mike Chester, 38, Senior VP of Marketing and Promotions
Although he joined SBP just two and a half years ago, Chester has worked with Scooter Braun and Allison Kaye in some capacity for a decade, previously in his role at Bieber’s label Def Jam. “In the early days, it was just Scooter and Allison spearheading from different coasts,” he says. “When I started at SB Projects, even knowing the company uniquely through Bieber, I didn’t realize how much Scooter had built until I came into the building. The infrastructure has quickly developed.”
Now, Chester leads radio promotion and marketing for all SBP clients and manages global tour logistics. He also played a vital role in One Love Manchester by bridging support from Spotify and iHeartRadio. “Scooter’s ‘anything is possible’ philosophy is infectious,” Chester says. “If you walk into his office feeling discouraged, you’ll walk out with a path to fixing your problem.”
One of those larger hurdles that Chester has successfully overcome is the reinvention of Bieber from troubled teen star to adult pop phenomenon. “There were some dark times when people who knew how close I was to the project took pleasure in his demise,” he recalls. “They were vocal. But I take a lot of pride in where we are now [with Justin]. That’s the biggest accomplishment of my entire career.”
Penni Thow, 31, Senior VP
For more than five years, Thow has overseen operations and strategic growth across all SBP verticals, with a focus on lifestyle, television and film. She remains inspired by the environment that she works in every day. “Scooter is one of the most loyal, empathetic people that I have ever known,” she says. “He treats everybody like family and really sees the potential in people.”
Thow also has a passion for people, something that can be seen from her previous work on MTV’s “The Buried Life” to her current work at SBP, which incorporates social impact into the company’s daily business structure. She also advises clients on entrepreneurial growth ventures. But Thow’s most impressive effort may be her day-to-day management and development of supermodel Karlie Kloss. This has included the launch of Kode With Klossy, a nonprofit that empowers girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech. She has also led philanthropic initiatives such as Justin Bieber’s #GiveBackPhilippines campaign, Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert and the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” telethon. “I learn so much every day that sometimes I can’t even take any more learning,” she laughs. “But the biggest lesson that I carry with me is to be kind and help others.”
Jules Ferree, 35, Head of Brand Partnerships
Ferree was director of digital marketing at Island Def Jam when Bieber was signed. Since 2015, she has developed and secured brand alignments across the SBP roster.
Like her colleagues, she emphasizes the importance of stepping up when people are in need. “We’ve had so many successes with our artists’ triumphs, breakthroughs, and comebacks, but in the past three years, what has resonated the most are One Love Manchester and Hand in Hand,” she says. “Those were pivotal moments when we were able to leverage the collective platform for awareness, giving and healing.”
Based in New York, Ferree leads her “lean, mean team of two” by handling endorsement deals, tour sponsorships (including Bieber’s partnership with Calvin Klein for his 2016-2017 Purpose tour), television advertising campaigns, branded content and music licensing. Adds Ferree: “Any time there is a third party involved with our clients, it’s usually crossing my desk.”