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Music Moguls of the Year: Scooter Braun’s Business Is Booming Thanks to Savvy Investments

There’s perhaps no better barometer by which to judge a person’s mogul-dom than the company one keeps. In the case of Scooter Braun, a recent trip to Portofino, Italy, on a yacht that included guests David Geffen and Jeff Bezos, just about says it all.

In simultaneously helming Ithaca Holdings, which is valued at $800 million and backed in part by private equity firm The Carlyle Group, and his own SB Projects, Braun (whose first name is Scott, though he’s gone by Scooter since his school days in Connecticut) has seen his business boom in the last year.

Under the greater Braun umbrella are two record companies (School Boy Records, a joint venture with Universal Music Group, and Big Machine Label Group, which Ithaca bought for $300 million in June), multiple television projects (among them: a K-pop movie with Fox 2000, a  first look TV deal with Amazon Studios and a YA update of “Anna Karenina” with eOne) and several films (the Paradigm-repped “A Taste of Power”) that SBP is producing, as well as kids’ entertainment (the BeatBuds) and Mythos Studios, Braun’s partnership with Marvel’s David Maisel, who praises “the combination of his sense of current and future culture, his creative taste and instincts, and his marketing and branding savvy” as “extremely unique and valuable.”

This comes on top of Braun’s 12-year tenure as manager of such superstars as Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and J Balvin, supermodel and TV personality Karlie Kloss and hit songwriters and producers Poo Bear and Andrew Watt, among some two dozen clients. Not to mention forays into tech by way of incubation and investments, e-sports and boxing.

But it’s the purchase of Big Machine that garnered Braun, 38, the sort of attention usually reserved for the pop stars he reps. Did he overpay for the deal, which encompasses a roster of acts that includes Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum (Braun’s country pedigree includes co-managing Dan + Shay and managing Zac Brown Band) and the master rights to six of Taylor Swift’s albums? Not if you consider Wall Street’s appetite for investing in music.

Scooter Braun

Indeed, there was a logic behind it. For one, Braun could soon be running the biggest of the independents or, by virtue of Swift’s catalog alone, an instant mini major. For another, it gives him the infrastructure with which to sign and develop his own acts. Finally, according to sources close to Braun, he believes Swift’s catalog was undervalued. Indeed, master rights are going for multiples of 22 to 25 times what those rights earned annually.

Swift has threatened to rerecord her classic songs, intensifying an already heated public squabble between the two. Still, Braun is less Gordan Gekko than David Geffen, a longtime idol and now mentor and sailing buddy. Philanthropy is at the core of Braun’s business, and more than once, he’s come to the aid of people in need  as organizer, fundraiser or cheerleader — whether survivors of the Parkland shooting and anti-gun activists (2018’s March for Our Lives), victims of the 2017 bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert (One Love Manchester) or those ravaged by hurricanes in Houston, Puerto Rico and Florida that same year (Hand in Hand).

“He makes the right choices in the artists he chooses to work with, in the companies he provides fuel to, in his love for his family,” says veteran manager Shep Gordon, subject of the 2013 documentary “Supermensch” and a friend. “His decisions elevate the artist and the planet. I can’t say I found a hero in my profession. Now I have!”

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