JESSE MICHELS: Welcome, everybody, to Talks at Google.
We are so happy to have you here.
We're very happy to have our guest here, our esteemed guest,
Scooter is one of the biggest entrepreneurs and innovators
in entertainment today.
He started as a teenage party promoter.
He was the biggest college party promoter in Atlanta
while going to Emory.
He leveraged that into a director of marketing position
at So So Def in its heyday.
He left So So Def, found a little-known artist
named Justin Bieber, and then basically leveraged that
into creating the largest, or one of the largest media
empires in music and entertainment today.
SB Projects covers all media.
It's not just music.
So he obviously manages artists like Kanye West, Ariana Grande,
Justin Bieber, of course, EDM acts like Martin Garrix
and then models like Karlie Kloss.
It also has a tech incubator arm called Silent Labs.
We were just talking about it earlier.
They have really impressive investments in Uber, Spotify,
Waze, Pinterest, to name a few.
So his track record there is pretty impressive.
And he's also all about giving back.
So he's on the board of directors
of his brother's foundation, Pencils of Promise, as well
as his wife's foundation.
And I don't think we're allowed to curse here, so--
SCOOTER BRAUN: Fuck Cancer.
- There you go.
He went for it.
SCOOTER BRAUN: I don't work here.
- And that's his wife, Yael Braun, also very impressive
in her own right.
Please give it up for Scooter Braun.
Thank you so much for coming.
JESSE MICHELS: Awesome.
So I actually want to start with your childhood
and just set a little context.
And I want to start with a movie you made, a student film.
When you were in high school, you made a movie
about the Jews of Hungary.
And this had a special kind of place in your heritage.
And you actually got some recognition
from Steven Spielberg on it, is that correct?
Can you tell us that story?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I went to school, and my teacher in middle school
said, there's something called National History Day.
And no one from our school has ever gotten to nationals.
But if you get to nationals, there's
an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC.
And I really wanted to go to Washington DC.
I wanted to see the monuments.
I wanted to see everything I'd seen about it.
So I went home that day and I said, Mom,
I'm going to Washington DC.
And then she said, you're crazy.
She goes, what are you talking about?
And I came up with this idea.
So my grandparents are Holocaust survivors.
My grandmother was liberated from Bergen-Belsen,
was in Auschwitz, and my grandfather was in Dachau.
And I was always kind of fascinated
by the story of how they could just live in this country
and live a normal life like I was living at the time.
And then suddenly, their country just betrays them
and everyone in their family dies and they
are the only survivors.
So I decided to do a 10-minute documentary called
"The Hungarian Conflict."
And it was the story of how hundreds of thousands of Jews
were deported over two weeks voluntarily
by the German people and the German army
towards the end of the war.
And I submitted it, won regionals, won states.
Lost in nationals to a documentary about airplanes
that make loud noises and fly over a neighborhood in Chicago,
because that is the most important topic that can beat
a story about the Holocaust.
I'm not bitter.
I've let go of it.
But actually, I had an amazing time.
I got to go down there.
I made a lot of friends.
And I was 13, 14 years old.
And when I came back, my other grandmother, my mom's mother,
she was very proud, and she sent it into the Holocaust Museum.
And somehow, someone got it to Steven Spielberg.
She had sent it to his office and everyone else,
because he had the Shoah Foundation.
He was collecting information about Holocaust survivors
at the time.
And I had no contact to entertainment.
No one in my family had a contact to entertainment.
We knew no one in the world I now work in.
And one day in the mail, I get this letter
from the office of Steven Spielberg.
And a letter typed out on his letterhead
signed by him, talking about my film
and encouraging me to keep going.
And I framed it and it's been on my wall ever since.
When I went to college, it was on my wall.
It's on the wall in my home office now.
And it made me believe that I could really achieve anything.
Like, if a kid who had no contacts
could get to Steven Spielberg, I thought anything is possible.
And funny enough, about 17 years later,
I was at the White House press dinner with a client.
And they moved us into a private room
with celebrities, because they didn't want the press
just hounding these celebrities in the big room
before the event with the president started.
And Steven Spielberg was in the room
and he started talking to us.
And I said, listen.
I don't mean to interrupt, but I just
need to tell you years ago when I was a kid,
I did a video about the Holocaust.
And you-- and before I could get a word out,
he goes, you didn't do the Hungarian one, did you?
And he remembered, 17 years later.
And I was completely in shock.
And it's just a testament to who he is and how genuine he is.
And it was just very encouraging.
I still have it on my wall to this day.
JESSE MICHELS: You mentioned something pretty remarkable,
which is that you started off knowing
no one in entertainment.
Now you know everybody in entertainment.
So if the first inflection point was Steven Spielberg giving you
recognition and that giving you just the belief in yourself
to do anything after that, a second inflection point
is cut to Atlanta.
You're throwing parties for rappers
like Ludacris and Eminem.
How exactly did that come about?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Atlanta was racist.
And that's the reason it happened.
I went down to Atlanta to play basketball
and broke my dad's heart because I
took a D3 offer instead of a D1 offer, because D1 said, hi.
You're 5'11" and can't really jump or run that fast.
So nice jump shot.
You're going to sit the bench for the first two years.
And I didn't really like that.
So I was like, OK, I'm going to go play D3.
I'm going to come out and start to get playing time.
And I got down to Atlanta and no one cared about our team.
And my best friend was at Duke, and he
was the star of that team.
And we played AAU basketball against each other,
so that's how we knew each other.
And when I got down there, because I came from an AAU
basketball team where I was a minority on my team,
I was one of three white guys on a majority black baseball team.
And our team-- since we were 14 years old in our state--
every weekend, three to four months out of the year,
we were in hotel rooms together as brothers.
I mean, these guys are still to this day my brothers.
I have to explain to my wife when one of them calls.
Like, well I've never even met this person.
You're just going to let him sleep in our house?
And said, in my childhood, this is family.
So when I got to Atlanta, I didn't really
have that perspective of white people
went to clubs that played techno and black people when
to clubs that played hip-hop.
And there was no mixing.
So I didn't like that and I saw an opening.
And I needed legit money because I was broke.
And selling fake IDs was not a long-term plan.
So I stopped by this club called Chaos in Buckhead
back in the day.
And I said, if you let me bring people here, will you pay me?
And he goes, well how many people can you bring?
I said, how many do you hold?
And he said, 800.
I said, that sounds about right.
I didn't know what I was doing.
I went to Kinko's, I made flyers.
I named my company Kryptonite Entertainment
because I liked Superman.
And I had a bunch of freshmen girls
pass out flyers for me, because I had a high school sweetheart.
So the freshman girls weren't threatened by me
because I would dance and have fun,
but I wasn't trying to sleep with them
because I was loyal to my high school sweetheart.
And where the freshmen girls tell you to go,
it seems like the rest of the campus went.
And next thing you know, I had 800 people there.
And-- this is a long story, but sorry for taking so long--
that first party, someone approached me and he was like,
this party is amazing.
Look at all these kids, different diversity,
listening to hip-hop.
And I looked at him.
I was like, you're Michael Jackson.
And no, it was not Michael Jackson.
But it was Jason Weaver, who played young Michael
Jackson in the VH1 movie that I would
watch every single year when they'd
play it about the Jacksons.
And he was like, yeah, I'm on a different TV show now.
That was like 10 years ago, dude.
And he said, do you want to see how the other half lives?
And I said, what do you mean the other half?
He goes, black people.
And he took me to Velvet Room on a Tuesday night.
This guy remembers old Atlanta.
So the original Velvet Room.
And there was a guy named Alex Gidewon, who is now
one of the biggest club owners in Atlanta, who originally
started off as an Ethiopian immigrant parking lot
And at that point, he'd become a huge promoter.
And he had a stutter, still does.
And he was so fascinated that I was there that he said
l-l-l-l-l-let the white boy in.
And he let me in for free instead of paying
the $100 a head cutline charge.
And I would put parties on every Thursday for college kids
and spend every dollar of it on Tuesdays meeting people.
Basically faking it till I made it.
And then I made so much cash with the parties
because Alex really taught me how to promote.
I learned what I really deserved to make at those parties.
I started making the door a part of the bar.
And he educated me.
And I bought a purple Mercedes with rims on eBay, cash.
And I started driving that to the party
so I could really floss and get everyone's attention.
And they were like, who is this kid?
And I was like, you should come to my parties.
And I said, we're playing hip-hop, too.
And I started getting basically all these rappers of Atlanta
started coming to my events.
And I wasn't paying them.
They were coming for free and having a good time.
And the first artists I ever worked at my parties
was a DJ in Atlanta called Chris Lova
Lova, who had an alternate personality named Ludacris.
And he had a record called "Throw Dem 'Bows"
and that was the first record I ever worked.
And that's how I kind of got on the scene.
And then one day, Jermaine Dupri called me.
And he was-- when you came to Atlanta,
there was a big billboard that used to say, Welcome,
the Home of So So Def.
And he was on top of his game.
A lot of people don't know this.
Jermaine Dupri is the only producer in music
to have a number one on the Billboard charts for 16 years
JESSE MICHELS: Crazy.
SCOOTER BRAUN: More than Quincy Jones.
And Jermaine asked me to come meet with him.
And Jermaine is not a tall man.
So we met, and his feet were dangling from this chair.
And he was talking to me and I was just so
fascinated that his feet didn't touch the ground.
And he asked me to come help him run his company
and do marketing.
I was 20 years old and I became the vice president of marketing
at So So Def Records.
JESSE MICHELS: Amazing.
SCOOTER BRAUN: That was a long, roundabout way
of answering one question.
JESSE MICHELS: No, that's--
SCOOTER BRAUN: By the way, he told me
before we started that when it's about crypto,
this place is packed.
So should we just talk about crypto?
Just put the word out.
Just be like, yo, it's not what you think.
It's not about Kanye and Bieber.
It's about crypto.
Get in there right now.
We're talking about Ethereum.
It's getting crazy in here.
JESSE MICHELS: That's awesome.
This is actually--
SCOOTER BRAUN: The guy has tips.
He's got information on Quantstamp.
JESSE MICHELS: No ICO talk, unfortunately.
But that was incredible.
I don't think I've ever heard that story
at that level of detail.
OK, so you're director of marketing at So So Def.
Talk about your decision to leave So So Def and then--
SCOOTER BRAUN: You want the truth or the nice version?
JESSE MICHELS: I want the truth.
SCOOTER BRAUN: What do you guys want?
JESSE MICHELS: What do we want?
SCOOTER BRAUN: How many people see this?
JESSE MICHELS: 700 k subscribers.
SCOOTER BRAUN: OK, just us?
JESSE MICHELS: But you have final edit right.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Jermaine changed my life
because he gave me an opportunity.
And he knows this.
I actually just was down in Atlanta
and we spent the night hanging out together.
I'm incredibly grateful to guys like him, Shaka Zulu, who
was Ludacris' manager, who put me in.
A guy named Shakir Stewart, who unfortunately
is no longer with us, who brought me into the music game.
Guys like Steve Rifkin who gave me my first record
deal for Asher Roth.
And these guys really changed my life.
But at the time, I had all these ideas about social media
and how to break acts.
And Jermaine wasn't listening to me.
He was really focused on what he was focused on
and just wanted me to kind of promote what he wanted.
And I had to go to London for something, some other project I
was consulting for.
And while I was over there, I ran into Lil Jon.
And a lot of people don't know this, but for nine years,
Lil Jon worked as an A & R at So So Def Records
before he became Lil Jon.
And we started talking and he said, don't take nine years.
He goes, I wouldn't have become Lil Jon,
I wouldn't have the success I'm having now if I took this long.
And we had just had "Yeah!" with Usher.
And he produced that, we executive produced that album.
And that was really resonating in my head.
And when I came back, I would say I had one foot out the door
but I was scared.
You know, I wanted to chase my dreams.
I wanted to pursue what I wanted to pursue.
But I had built this identity at 23 years old,
over the three years I was with Jermaine, you know almost 24
at that point.
And I was afraid of stepping away as much
as I didn't want to be there, because I think
a lot of people-- you know, you guys work for a company,
so a lot of you probably have entrepreneurial spirits
and want to do something.
But there's something about the steady paycheck
And Jermaine's mother came into the office.
She had an office.
Don't ask why.
And for some reason that day, she was just in a mood
and wanted to tell everyone who worked there
that her son doesn't need any of them,
and he makes all the money, and all
you people are just overhead.
And I said, look.
With all due respect, I have my own company and promotion
separately for this.
But I love your son.
But I don't have to be here and I don't really
appreciate you saying that, so could you
chill it a little bit?
And I was being respectful.
And she looked at me and said something
that out of respect for him, I will not repeat,
because that's his mom.
But it was disrespectful and completely
inappropriate and hurtful.
And not just to me, but to people beyond me
as an individual.
And I decided instead of saying something back, I just left.
And when I got back to the office the next day
and kind of calmed down, didn't worry about it,
she had a letter in my mailbox firing me.
But what killed me was it was signed also by him.
So I went over to see him and I'm like, what the hell?
And he's like, man, it's my mom.
Just give it two weeks and I'll straighten it out.
And that was all I needed to know.
And I remember taking my car, driving over to Kroger
by my house, sitting on the hood of my car,
and realizing as scared as I was,
this was the opportunity I actually really did want.
And the universe forced it on me.
The universe has a way of doing that in your life.
Like, you really want to do something
and you're holding back, you're holding back.
And then you think something bad happened.
It's just the universe usually correcting something for you.
And that sent me out on my own track.
And I'm grateful she decided to say some crazy shit to me.
Sorry, Google, for cursing again.
You know you can search curse words on Google, right?
JESSE MICHELS: That's true.
They do show up and you can search them.
SCOOTER BRAUN: You guys actually don't block anything
that you're saying you can't say.
JESSE MICHELS: That's true.
I actually don't even know what the official policy is on it.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Well, my question is--
especially with so many languages
you have around the world--
I would challenge you right now with the cameras.
I want you to pick any curse word you want.
But I want you to say it right now,
because I want to release this for you.
I want to give you this freedom back.
So we're going to just count to three
and you're going to say a curse word.
JESSE MICHELS: I'm going to say curse word?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
One, two, three.
JESSE MICHELS: Shit.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Give him a round of applause.
That was very scary for him.
And I want to let you know that you were
let go about two seconds ago.
JESSE MICHELS: You realize I went for the most PG curse
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah, it was pretty weak.
But it's cool.
All right, keep going.
JESSE MICHELS: Thank you for that, Scooter.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Crypto.
We're talking about crypto in here.
JESSE MICHELS: That's right.
Get in on it.
Scooter coin is coming up, actually.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Oh, hell no.
That one will not make it past the bubble.
JESSE MICHELS: OK.
So you leave So So Def, kind of an abrupt ending there.
Talk about the time in between So So Def
and finding Justin Bieber, and then how exactly--
you found Justin Bieber on YouTube, right?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
That worked out well for me.
Just a grown man in the middle of the night in his underwear
looking at the internet, staring at little boys singing.
And look at my life now.
I wasn't even arrested.
It was good.
Actually, I did get arrested.
That's not true.
I got arrested in Long Island for Justin.
So maybe that was the reason.
JESSE MICHELS: Got to ask about that later.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah, that was just a mall
that things were crazy.
I was the first arrest in US history for refusing to tweet.
JESSE MICHELS: Jesus.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
Long story, we don't have to go there.
You guys can look it up.
My record is expunged so I can get global entry again.
In between, I needed a calling card,
so I went back to the original guy, Ludacris.
Bill O'Reilly, he had said Ludacris
is a gangster rapper and companies
shouldn't work with him.
And suddenly, companies believed Bill O'Reilly for some reason,
and Ludacris lost all his endorsements.
And I was like, if you guys give me a shot,
I'll find you something.
And he was in an amazing movie called
"Crash" that was coming out.
And my buddy knew someone at Pontiac
and said, hey, maybe go there.
They're doing the Solstice.
I heard they have a budget.
So I called to pretend I was a college reporter trying
to do, how do you guys do endorsement deals?
And they told me the name of their agency.
I went to the agency and said the same thing.
I'm a college kid doing a report on this.
Would you like to speak to me?
And got to the woman, said, look, there's no report here.
This is what it's really about.
And she goes, I don't know about Ludacris.
And I said, look, come to the premiere of "Crash" with me
and you'll see.
And when she saw "Crash" and saw him in it, she said,
I love this.
And we did a deal for the Pontiac Solstice.
I took his song "Two Miles an Hour."
I've never told this story, so this is--
I'll never get another deal with Pontiac after I tell this.
So like I said, I really didn't have anything.
Like, I was kind of going week-to-week,
I started throwing parties again to kind of get paid.
And I got them to agree to let us shoot the video with one
of our music video directors, and we
would make a music video with the Pontiac Solstice
and then give them 30-second and minute clips to actually make
into their commercial.
And it was a huge $10 million campaign.
But the Pontiac, at the time, was still a prototype.
Like, they hadn't started sending out the actual cars.
So if you know anything about cars,
the prototypes are like $2 million each,
because it's not the actual car.
It's the model.
So we needed it for the video.
So they sent it down.
And you're not supposed to drive it.
It's a car, but it's a $2 million prototype car.
But I didn't have money to put it on a flatbed
and take it across town.
So I drove the $2 million car down the highway,
literally like freaking out the whole way,
and got it to the video.
And to this day, no one knows I did that.
But now, 800,000 people just found out.
And that was kind of my calling card.
And people were like-- this was before Jay-Z
had a deal with Nike.
And rappers and hip-hop didn't really have endorsement deals,
so people started hearing about the fact
that I was able to pull it off.
And then, I did a party for him for the Anger Management
tour with Eminem and got Showtime to sponsor it
with their show "Soul Food."
And I started using this as a calling card.
And I was doing consulting and marketing for hip-hop and R&B
acts all over Atlanta and then around the industry.
And I decided, I'm going to start my own company
because I have all these ideas about social media.
And I found a kid on Myspace named
Asher Roth who didn't even have a mix tape out,
but I just liked his lyrics.
And I had an idea about a part of rap that is very common now
but wasn't being represented at the time,
because you had Eminem, and that was just it from white boys.
And flew Asher down to Atlanta, got him to move onto my couch,
and we just started that process.
Then I got him a house around the corner that
was, like, filled with rats.
And got my old college DJs--
when I was a big party promoter in college,
they were two guys that were going to Clark and Morehouse,
and that was DJ Drama and DJ Cannon.
And they had become big mix tape DJs,
so I got them to do a mix tape for Asher, because we
kind of came up together.
And when Asher wrote "I Love College,"
four months after finding Asher, I found Justin on YouTube,
flew him and his mother down on the first plane ride
either of them had ever been on.
Put them illegally--
Donald Trump-- into a house.
He's not as threatened.
We'll talk about all that later.
And had them living around it.
And when we wrote "I Love College,"
Justin was actually sitting there as a 14-year-old kid.
And it was kind of this little family unit that we had.
And since I see a lot of young people here--
I didn't know Google had so many young employees.
It's so against your reputation.
And I was 25.
I had Justin living in a townhouse
under my name with Aaron's Rents furniture
that I bought and Asher living in a house around the corner
from him in this decrepit, rat-filled house
with his buddies that just came with him
and dropped out of college with him.
And I had my apartment.
And I had money for 13 months before I went broke.
And I wasn't doing parties.
I was pot committed.
I was in it.
Burn the ships.
I was there and that was that.
And I was in month 11 and my dad called me just to kind of check
And I remember being 25 and just breaking down, hysterically
crying on the phone, saying, I'm a failure and nobody
in Atlanta knows.
Everyone thinks I'm killing it.
Everyone thinks I'm doing it, and I'm two months away
from losing it all, and I haven't done
anything for these guys yet.
And he goes, well you've come this far.
Two more months, let's see what happens.
And the next day, Asher wrote "I Love College."
And within the two months, I was able to pull off
hyping a publishing deal at South by Southwest.
I had one publisher meet me at a restaurant across the street
from the other, so I made sure they saw each other
and created a bidding war.
Got Asher a million-dollar pub deal,
took the commission to that, saved my company,
and never looked back.
And that's pretty much the way I would describe to you,
that's how close failure and success actually are.
There's a very fine line.
And to get to success, you have to walk right next to failure.
And I've paid for pizza with change.
I've cried on the phone at 25 years old.
And it's funny to actually think I'm 36 now.
It's been 11 years, and my life is very different.
And I'm glad I learned that lesson.
JESSE MICHELS: This is awesome.
This might be the most candid interview I've ever given,
so I appreciate it.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Am I better than my brother?
JESSE MICHELS: Yes.
I don't know.
I can't-- no, I can't take sides.
SCOOTER BRAUN: You said yes.
It's on record.
JESSE MICHELS: Sorry, Adam.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Adam, if you're watching, I'm sorry.
JESSE MICHELS: Adam, you did great.
SCOOTER BRAUN: He interviewed my brother in SF last week.
JESSE MICHELS: A few weeks ago.
SCOOTER BRAUN: A few weeks ago.
My brother is very impressive.
He's mom's favorite.
He's a lot more impressive.
If you guys look into MissionU or Pencils
of Promise or the fact that at 32, he
was the UN Global Education Crisis Committee head, yeah.
He's like, yeah.
He's like that guy, 100%.
Mom loves him.
And my sister?
Mom loves even more than both of us.
It's not even close.
JESSE MICHELS: " He says he gets very competitive with you
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
I mean, our dad's a coach.
JESSE MICHELS: I didn't know that.
SCOOTER BRAUN: So we grew up playing competitive basketball
our whole lives.
And Adam is a better athlete and definitely has a better handle,
but his jump shot's weak.
I definitely have the best jump shot in the family.
He won't contest that.
But that's all I got.
JESSE MICHELS: Taking shots.
SCOOTER BRAUN: But it's real.
And that's good.
And as you get older, my game is more efficient.
Because as you get older and you have a jump shot,
you can survive three-point line to three-point line.
I like how there's like three people in here who
are basketball fans and everyone else
is just like, get back to the crypto talk, bro.
Get back to the crypto.
JESSE MICHELS: We have more Velvet Room
goers than basketball fans.
So that's crazy.
It's almost like Asher gave you the runway
to do what you did with Justin, which
is maybe a little-known fact.
Which is-- that's pretty incredible.
When you saw Justin on YouTube, you flew him out.
You flew him and his mother out and you got this trial period,
and you got them to take a chance on you.
How did you know that this kid's special just
from seeing him on YouTube?
SCOOTER BRAUN: You know, a manager of a great new rising
artist actually came to see me last night at my house.
And it was our first time meeting, and we kind of just
wanted to get to know each other.
And we were talking.
He's a really good dude, and we were talking about data
and different things.
And I just looked at him and I said, look.
I remember when Sean Parker woke me up one night
to tell me that he was going to create an algorithm for a hit
And it's not the first time I'd heard something like that.
You know, when you asked me how did I know,
I like going with gut.
Data is a great thing, but going with gut
is a much better way to live.
And if everybody could take data and figure it out,
then there would not been hit songs.
There wouldn't be movies.
There wouldn't be innovation.
We would just be following data and following
some kind of timeline of how we're supposed to do things.
And then, there's no sensation of discovery.
And I think data's very important,
because you can learn from it and you can go with it.
But if you go through life--
I mean, everyone in this room will understand this--
if someone gives you a ton of data
but your gut just tells you it's wrong, but you follow the data
and it's wrong, you're miserable.
You are like, I knew it.
I absolutely knew it.
This drives me crazy.
But if you go against the data and you follow your gut
and you're still wrong, you actually don't feel bad.
You're like, you know what?
I went with my gut.
And what's the point of really doing anything?
The real point is being content and finding happiness,
because you can win 100 times and not find happiness and then
be even more depressed.
So I just think going through life and going with gut
is the best thing.
And when I saw Justin, my gut went off
and I actually saw from start to finish
how to take this kid on YouTube that, when
I showed other friends, they were like, cute kid,
but I don't get it.
I knew exactly how to make him one of the biggest pop stars
Like, it all, like, flew in.
And I am a spiritual person, so I
think it was someone upstairs that kind of gave me that plan.
And then I used data.
Then I used YouTube.
I knew I had to convince people who
didn't think the way I thought.
So I was like, OK, I'm going to use the data from YouTube
and the analytics that YouTube is now sharing with me.
And I'm going to prove it to the naysayers.
I'm going to take him from 60,000 views to 66 million.
JESSE MICHELS: You hear that--
SCOOTER BRAUN: By the way, my nose is itching like crazy.
And in Los Angeles or New York when you itch your nose,
people completely get the wrong idea.
So I just wanted to say I live a healthy life.
I just have some allergies.
I'm not that entertainment guy.
I just want to itch the nose.
JESSE MICHELS: Scooter is sober and lucid right now.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
The only way to go through life.
JESSE MICHELS: Wow.
Ariana Grande, in my mind, is probably
the closest thing we've seen to Mariah Carey since Mariah
Mariah Carey was a So So Def artist back in the day.
Talk about how you met her and got
her to sign on board, and then your journey with her--
SCOOTER BRAUN: She was never So So Def.
Jermaine produced her album.
JESSE MICHELS: Oh, I didn't know that.
SCOOTER BRAUN: He produced "Emancipation of Mimi."
JESSE MICHELS: The Velvet Room guy knows too.
SCOOTER BRAUN: It's OK.
I wasn't going to correct, you, but I was like, no, I'm
going to correct you.
JESSE MICHELS: You know way more about this than me.
SCOOTER BRAUN: It wasn't it a big mistake.
JESSE MICHELS: But how did you meet Ariana?
How'd you convince her to sign on board?
And then talk about the journey, because she left and came back.
SCOOTER BRAUN: I saw Ariana on YouTube
do a cover of a Justin Bieber song
while she was playing a secondary character
on a Nickelodeon show.
And I was blown away by her voice.
And I was like, this girl is a star.
And I wanted to meet her, and I couldn't really get to her.
And then I saw that she wanted to make music,
so I reached out to a buddy and I
was like, look, I know I might be a jerk because now she
just wants to make music and I've never reached out before,
but I've wanted to for a long time.
And it turned out that she had been wanting
to meet me for a couple years.
And people that she was asking to set up
were kind of blocking it, because they didn't want me in.
They wanted to be in.
And we met and completely hit it off.
And I said, let's do this and went on this amazing run.
What shocked me is that Nickelodeon
had a deal with Sony.
And I was like, how are you not signed to Sony?
And it turns out she said, hey, I want to make music.
And they heard her sing.
And they were like, well, she's not a star.
We're not going to give her a record deal.
And Sony actually passed on Ariana.
Their loss, our gain.
And we did the deal, and we started working together
and we had two number one albums.
And as you can see on the stage, I don't really hold my tongue.
And there were some other people in her life that were kind of--
as you become more and more popular and famous and more
success, people just start showing up.
And they want to create dissension
because they want to create opportunities for themselves.
And there were people who were creating dissension between she
and I. And instead of just kind of succumbing to that,
I said what I felt.
And in that confusion, we went separate ways.
And six months later when those people
showed their true colors, she called me up and she said,
can we meet?
And we met up.
And we had stayed cordial.
And it was nothing.
It was a hug, forgiven, forgave each other for anything
that was said, and back to it.
And then we had incredible success.
And then I'm sure your next question
is we went through some really trying times together.
JESSE MICHELS: Yeah.
And talk about-- switching, actually, to Kanye--
SCOOTER BRAUN: Oh, I thought you'd go there.
JESSE MICHELS: Well actually, yeah.
I should go there.
You kind of teed me off.
Well, can you talk about those trying times with Ariana?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Look, it's--
Glad you asked.
I didn't see that coming.
Look, Ariana-- very well known-- had a terrorist attack
at her show in Manchester.
And over 20 people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl
and other kids.
And she was there.
And these people were there to see her.
And there's that guilt you carry when that happens.
And I was angry.
Because of my grandparents being Holocaust survivors,
I always knew that kind of evil existed in the world.
And I'd kind of waited my whole life for an opportunity
to take it on.
So I was, like, rearing and ready to go
and filled with anger.
And I was like, we're going to do a show.
We're going to go back.
And when I got to her the next day,
she, rightfully so, was torn apart.
And she was like, I don't know if I could ever
sing these songs again, let alone go on stage.
So I had to kind of pull myself back and realize
this wasn't a moment for me.
And I worked on canceling the tour
and worked with her insurance team.
And the insurance company was British,
and they completely understood and actually said,
we're going to pay the full fee for all her shows
for the rest of the tour.
We're going to fully cover the insurance.
And think about that.
So now she's getting her full fee,
but she doesn't have to pay for production.
She doesn't have to pay for the costumes.
She doesn't have to pay for staff.
She's actually going to make more money by not performing
for the last two months than she would on the entire tour,
by just accepting the insurance.
And by the time I flew home two days later,
I got home to 16 text messages saying, call me.
And I called her up.
And she knew that financial point.
And she said, if I don't do something,
I'm not who I say I am.
And all these kids who come and see me
and all the things I tell them, they're not real.
So what's the plan?
And I said, look, I--
she goes, I'm ready to go on tour tomorrow.
I want to go back.
And I said, look, I think you need
to take some time to make sure you're strong enough, because I
think you're excited right now.
But let's go back in two weeks, because that's Paris.
We'll cancel six shows because you need time
to heal and really take this in.
And Paris is where the Eagles of Death Metal happened,
and I thought that was a great statement.
And I said, but I have a crazier idea.
Before Paris, instead of waiting three, four months, a year,
we should go back to Manchester and perform.
And she goes, do you think so?
And I said, because the reason terrorists
do this is they want to change our way of life.
They want to scare us.
And the best way to stop it from happening again
is answering right away and answering in defiance
and letting them know they're not going
to change our way of life.
And she, without even pausing, was like, I'm in.
And we had two weeks.
We put the show together.
And I put a tremendous amount of pressure
on a small Italian girl's shoulders.
And she stepped up and she handled it.
And there were a lot of amazing people
who stepped up for that show.
And that will always go down in my mind
as the most important and most incredible
show I've ever been a part of.
To give you a little context, we finally got back to the UK.
We were rehearsing the night before.
Staying in Manchester, we rehearsed at Wembley Arena
the night before.
And that night was the night of the London Bridge attack.
So the second terrorist attack happened the night
before our show.
JESSE MICHELS: Wow.
SCOOTER BRAUN: And that was the first time I was thinking,
is my excitement and arrogance going to get people killed?
And before I could even think about canceling the show,
Chris Martin from Coldplay-- he was in the show--
sends me a text.
Please don't cancel.
And then Marcus Mumford calls me,
because I'd just seen him at rehearsal.
And says, do not cancel.
It's more important than ever that you guys do this show.
Ariana, I never everyone even talked to about,
didn't even go there.
She had already gone to sleep.
And I spent the night, talked to her mom.
We decided to go on with the show.
And the Greater Manchester Police
wanted me to release a statement on behalf of our team
that the show was going to go on.
I spent the whole night writing it.
Woke up, put it out, and I said that we
have a greater responsibility now more than ever
to continue on this journey.
Not only for the victims of Manchester,
but the victims of London, to honor them
and be on that stage.
And then the Manchester Police put out a statement saying,
the show will go on.
However, please understand that the alert is now
at high, which means there is, quote,
"likely going to be an attack."
And we were going to be on YouTube--
thanks-- Facebook, Twitter, Capital Radio, BBC Radio,
and the BBC.
So you could watch our entire show from your home.
I was convinced no one was going to show up.
And when Marcus walked out to open the show,
the Mumford guys weren't in town.
It's the only time Marcus Mumford has ever performed
without Mumford and Sons.
And he did "Timshel," and he changed a couple of lyrics
to honor the victims.
And when he walked out, there were
60,000 people in the place.
It was packed.
And it was chills because it was about to be a three, four hour
And he and I talked beforehand about how to start it.
And we asked for a moment of silence.
And at the end, he said, let's not be afraid.
And the place roared.
And it's something I'll never forget for the rest of my life.
JESSE MICHELS: That's incredible.
That's awesome that you guys were able to stay the course
and make it happen.
Yeah, give it up.
So I want to talk about Kanye.
You've had a relationship with Kanye for a while,
but you signed him kind of later in his career.
Can you talk about what Kanye means to you as a friend
and as a colleague now and what the future holds for Kanye?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Look, he is the most interesting person
I've ever met in my life.
He is a genius.
And I've witnessed and experienced
that he truly is a creative genius,
because all my other clients, a lot of it
kind of comes on the creativity, the ideas.
A lot of it, myself and team members,
it's on us to kind of come up with and then work with them.
Kanye's always the person, he's like, yeah I like that.
But what about this?
And you're like, damn.
How did I not see that?
But he's even made me see colors differently.
Like, we've spent so much talking
about colors and palettes that I actually
see colors and aesthetic differently
because of his education of hours and hours
and hours of conversation.
JESSE MICHELS: Doesn't he have synesthesia, like--
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah, he does.
JESSE MICHELS: --sounds are color?
SCOOTER BRAUN: When he hears sounds, he sees colors.
JESSE MICHELS: Crazy.
SCOOTER BRAUN: And we were friends for a long time.
If you look up the Ludacris "Stand Up" video,
I am the promoter, club owner jumping around dancing in it.
And Kanye produced that song, and he makes a cameo in it.
And we actually met then before he had just signed to the Roc,
and he was a producer, and no one
knew who Kanye West was other than if you'd
worked with him as producer.
And we met on that set and were friendly.
And kind of over the years, always knew each other.
His original manager, John Monopoly, was always good to me
when I was a younger guy.
And then when he put up a tweet saying he was $52 million
in debt, he's my friend.
So I texted him, are you OK?
And I guess a lot of people didn't ask him if he was OK.
So he called me back just to talk.
And after talking for about an hour,
he said, you know, you need to come work with me.
And I said, Kanye, we've talked about this before.
I don't want to do that.
Like, I'm afraid of working with you
because I don't want to lose the friendship.
I love you, dude.
No, no, you need to come work with me.
You need to manage me.
I'm going to call Izzy.
You need to manage me.
And I said, no, no, no, we're good.
Why don't we-- when are you back?
You're back in a week?
OK, you're back in a week.
We'll talk about it then.
And I thought this is like the eighth time he and I have
had a conversation like that.
We're going to get it.
We'll stay friends.
The next morning, I get a call from Adidas and Def Jam.
So we're told you're the manager and to deal with you.
And that is how I became Kanye West's manager.
But he's become like a brother.
And I joke around that it's been 2 and 1/2 years now
and I think we'll always be friends
and we'll always find ways to work together,
because we both have this feeling of,
art can change the world.
And I joke around all the time that I'm his manager today,
but I might not be tomorrow.
Like, I've lasted longer than most.
But I'm going to be with him next week
and I saw him last week.
And he knows it.
He's like, someday when you're older,
you're going to say you managed Kanye West and that's cool.
And I'm like, it's cool right now, bro.
I mean, we walked in, you were like nice Yeezys.
I was like, you're goddamn right.
JESSE MICHELS: He's like, I got a hook up.
SCOOTER BRAUN: But he really is a genius.
And here's a thing I like to say about him publicly,
because I don't like to talk about it
too much publicly out of respect for that's not really
But Kanye West is the best listener
of any artist I've ever worked with.
JESSE MICHELS: That's incredible,
because I feel like that's probably the biggest
SCOOTER BRAUN: Biggest misperc--
Kanye wants the information.
He wants to learn everything.
If you interrupt him and say, hey, my bad, he goes, no, no.
What did you want to say?
He is the best listener of anyone
I've ever worked with, hands down.
And he's also someone who doesn't keep you on the phone.
If I say, hey, my kid needs me.
I'll call you right back.
He's actually incredibly, in his own way,
empathetic and considerate and is a really, really, really
When he gets frustrated, his passion might take over
and he goes what I call Full Ye.
But he has a heart of gold, and he really
is an amazing listener.
And that is, yeah, I think 100% the biggest misconception.
JESSE MICHELS: I'm going to name some people you've worked with,
and you just give me the first word that pops into your head.
SCOOTER BRAUN: OK.
JESSE MICHELS: Justin Bieber.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Why did hair come to the first thing that
came to my head?
No, that's family.
JESSE MICHELS: Usher.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Also family.
JESSE MICHELS: Karlie Kloss.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Kindness.
JESSE MICHELS: Martin Garrix.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Wild man.
JESSE MICHELS: BloodPop.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Martin's also jump into your pool,
JESSE MICHELS: The Wanted.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Hmm?
JESSE MICHELS: The Wanted.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Um, Glad You Came.
JESSE MICHELS: Kanye.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Genius.
JESSE MICHELS: Love it.
SCOOTER BRAUN: You didn't ask Ariana.
JESSE MICHELS: I didn't ask Ariana.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Brave.
JESSE MICHELS: Awesome.
And it feels like right now, you represent mostly pop,
would you say?
You came from a hip-hop background.
How do you reconcile that?
Do you want to do more hip-hop stuff?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I am in business with more hip-hop people
than I let know publicly.
And I'm also in business with a lot of country music
that I don't talk about publicly.
Our company has a branch of it that
owns a piece of a bunch of other companies within our business.
So we own 50% of a lot of other companies.
We just don't talk about it publicly.
It allows me to touch other genres,
be involved with other genres.
And we've done EDM.
We've done country.
But there's people that they'll see me at shows
and be like, I didn't know you were friends with this person.
And sometimes, I'm in business with them as well.
But it's funny, because probably of any manager
in music history, I've probably put myself
out there probably the most, because I
thought it was a new world.
And if you can create a brand for yourself,
then you can launch other brands.
And social media was changing things.
So I made a conscious decision to do that,
knowing that it would put a target on my back
and it would be something people used to criticize me
and kind of judge my character and assume that--
people that don't know me, they might assume, oh,
he's doing that because he wants to become a public figure
or be consumed by that.
And the truth is, the majority of the successes we have,
we'll never speak about.
And the majority of my private life isn't very public.
I choose to show my family in certain aspects
publicly only because when I came
into the industry, fast women, fast cars was a stigma that you
thought of when you thought of a successful entertainment man.
And I wanted to change that paradigm.
I want people to see me, and I want
them to know you can have success in this industry
and be a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a family
And I also think-- especially with what
I'm seeing now with "Time's Up" and the "Me Too" movement,
that this movement can't just be about women.
This movement needs to be about moving
the needle on men in the industry
so they treat women better.
--I think the only way you do that is
you move the needle on what a man's goal is.
If you tell a young man coming into the industry
that success doesn't look like that,
that's actually not a good result.
Success is being someone who's honorable to women and someone
who is honorable to their family and honorable
to their commitments of family.
Then I think you're going to see more young men not acting so
inappropriately and becoming like the generation
that we're seeing fall right now.
And that is something I want.
Because I was raised by a strong woman, and I married one,
so I don't want the next dude coming up looking at my success
and thinking, oh, I want that car,
and I want that young girl.
No, that's not what it's about.
That's actually a very shallow life, in my opinion.
Sorry I talked about this too long.
JESSE MICHELS: Well, you're a good role model.
No, that's great.
You talk about a lot of your success going kind of unspoken
and unrecognized or you kind of keeping silent about it.
Fittingly, the tech arm of the SB Projects
is named Silent Labs.
Can you talk about-- we were talking earlier--
just the history of your involvement with tech,
to the extent that you can talk about that?
SCOOTER BRAUN: So the itch came because when
I was a big college party promoter,
Emory was one of the first eight schools to launch the Facebook.
And I was like, what a great way to get my parties out
there without having to hack the school database.
So I got in touch with the contact page
and the master of dungeon ceremonies, Mark Zuckerberg,
whatever the hell it said at the time.
And he wrote me back, please talk
to Eduardo, who I saw was the master of coin or something
And Eduardo and I, for about four months,
negotiated 10% of Facebook for $100,000.
I still have the email.
Dear Scooter, Mark wants to launch
32 more schools in two weeks.
So unfortunately at this time, he
refuses to take any outside investment.
Let me know if you're coming to Boston so we
can catch up and see if there's other stuff we can do together.
Now, I joke around in my head that I know I'm a closer.
And if I would have gone to Boston,
I probably would have closed that deal.
But remember that high school sweetheart I told you about?
Well, she ripped my heart out.
And she went to BC.
So the idea of going to Boston and running into her
was not happening.
So I was like, aw, man, screw this Facebook thing.
I'll have to find another way to promote my parties.
And a year later, it was like, Peter Thiel
invests a million dollars for 10% of Facebook.
And I was like, I could have made a million dollars.
JESSE MICHELS: That's an unprofitable breakup
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
But I didn't know what it was going
to be so I can't claim credit.
But when it continued becoming this giant conglomerate,
it made me say, well there was something there.
And it actually made me start investing in tech very, very
early before the music industry in LA
wanted to start going up to the Valley.
I started going up and not really telling anybody
because I didn't want anyone else going up.
So I was able to get in early in a lot of really
And they were personal investments for me.
And then we had our incubator if I wanted the company
to invest as well.
But I was able to--
I went up and I was meeting with another company,
and they ordered me an Uber.
And I'm like, what the hell is this?
They're like, it's a new thing here in San Francisco.
It's really cool.
And then a friend of mine said, I met this guy, Travis.
And I have this great picture of Travis in my living room
here in LA pitching me about Uber coming to LA.
And I was already an investor when
it was just in San Francisco.
And seeing that whole thing, and then his competitor
came up, which I got into also, which made him
mad at me for a little while.
But John Zimmer went to my high school.
John Zimmer was the same age as my brother.
He played soccer with my brother.
When that thing happened, at first it was Zimride
and I basically passed because I was an Uber guy.
But later on, I had some frustrations
and I decided, John, OK.
You know, let's go do this too.
And I was on a 30 under 30 list in Billboard when I was 27.
There was a 24-year-old kid on the list.
And I called up Billboard.
Bill Werde was the editor, and I said,
can I have the name and number of every single person
on the list?
Because I feel like my peers are the people
that I want to grow with, not somebody I aspire to be.
We're going to come up together.
Because whenever you meet someone powerful, they say,
oh, of course I know them.
I'll call them.
We've known each other 30 years.
And you realize that the people sitting next to you
when you're working your way up are the people
that you actually are going to need when you get there.
So I called everyone on the list, and one of them
was a young guy from Sweden with a startup
that was just in Sweden.
We became friends, and he let me invest
in his startup called Spotify.
And along the way, different friends
got me into different companies.
And it worked out.
JESSE MICHELS: You make it seem easy,
like you were like accidentally friends
with all-- that's crazy.
SCOOTER BRAUN: No, listen.
I just think--
I don't really think I'm that good at this stuff.
I really think I'm really lucky.
When I was a kid and I didn't do homework,
there'd be like a freak snow day.
Because I've got a lot of friends
who work really, really hard, and they just
can't catch a break.
And I'm the dude who goes on the internet in the middle of night
and finds Justin, or my friend sends me
a funny video of an overweight Asian dude dancing
and I'm like, oh, it's like the Macarena.
I'll sign that.
And it's Gangnam Style.
And the things that have happened to me in my career,
it just doesn't really make sense.
So I don't really think it's on me.
I think somebody-- I'm going to get real spiritual on you guys,
but I actually really believe this,
because when you cry to your dad at 25
and then you wake up 11 years later next to who
I get to wake up with, with my two kids and my life,
you can't just sit there and be like, OK, this is normal,
because it's not.
So I believe that you get blessings
to give them to other people.
Otherwise you stop getting them.
That's actually my personal belief.
And I believe as long as we keep doing philanthropy,
as long as we keep giving back, as long as we wake up every day
and find a way to make sure somebody else
gets an opportunity, then somebody upstairs
keeps opening the door for more opportunities.
And that's just my personal belief.
And there are really shitty people
who get to win along the way.
I'm not interested in paying attention to them.
We've just got to do what we do.
JESSE MICHELS: That's beautiful.
Do you have time for a couple questions from the audience?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I've got time for whatever.
We didn't know how long this was going to be.
And originally when we planned this,
we didn't know we'd be in our new office in Santa Monica.
So we thought coming out here was going to take hours.
So I don't really have anything to do for another hour.
And Zach has my phone, so I have no idea how many clients have
called while I'm up here.
And I'm actually really enjoying the fact
that I don't have a phone.
This is like when I went to Burning Man.
JESSE MICHELS: Google Burning Man.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Yeah.
JESSE MICHELS: Do you have anything--
SCOOTER BRAUN: This is nothing like when
I went to Burning Man.
JESSE MICHELS: They do say Burning Man is
the new Davos though, like it's all just tech execs.
SCOOTER BRAUN: I liked it.
I rode a bike around.
I don't do drugs.
And for those people who have this stigma that you do drugs
at Burning Man, not true.
I don't do drugs, but I do ride bikes.
And I rode a bike around that desert
like I was 15 years old at Bible Street Park.
My phone wasn't on.
I was a wild man.
I was riding that thing straight into oblivion,
and it was awesome.
So if you like bike riding, I will
tell you there's a great trail.
It's called Burning Man.
JESSE MICHELS: OK.
I'm going to pass this mic around for audience Q&A.
Before I do, do you have anything
you want to plug or promote that SB has going on?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I'm good.
You guys are Google.
You don't need anything from me.
You've got a tea shop in your office.
AUDIENCE: Oh, you're going to toss it.
That's part of the fun.
JESSE MICHELS: And feel free to pass to the next--
JESSE MICHELS: Cool.
AUDIENCE: Diana [INAUDIBLE],, thanks for being here today.
You are an amazing storyteller.
I've learned so much just from listening to you.
You've talked a lot about using technology like social media
to discover new music and new artists.
Thoughts on super new technology that could potentially
be used to discover new music?
Like robots, self-driving cars, drones?
And to give some context, I work at Google X. I'm just--
SCOOTER BRAUN: Blockchain.
No, I'm kidding.
Yeah, I think that will work.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Technology has actually always shaped
how we see the music industry.
So before Tesla really created what we know as radio today,
there was no music industry because there
wasn't a way to distribute.
So technology actually was the creation of the music industry.
And then if you look at whether it be vinyl and then
the adaption to 8-track and then CDs and cassettes and all
these different things and then going to MP3 and now streaming,
technology has always built, lifted,
and saved the music industry.
I have no idea what it's going to be next.
I know that I think we're actually
in the infant stage of streaming.
Because if you actually look at it and we're like,
oh my god, this person sold 5 million albums.
That's mind blowing.
But the amount of people on the planet that
listen to music, that actually isn't mind blowing.
We've never created a way where, when
there's such a great separation of wealth in this world,
to be able to distribute music properly amongst all people.
And now we have streaming, which is changing that.
So I don't really know, necessarily, what's next.
I know I think we're in round one.
I mean, I think it's $8.6 billion
that streaming is now creating for the industry, which
has brought it back up to where it was and a little bit above.
I think we're in, literally, the first inning
of a nine-inning game of streaming.
I think it's going to take the value of music
up in a way we haven't seen before.
And then I think as far AI, that is the most interesting part
for me, because that's how we're getting
a lot of this playlisting and everything else
that's becoming so influential.
But I still think it's missing the human touch.
Because AI can kind of identify what songs go together
or how we put stuff together, but a human touch
can identify a human's interaction with music
in a timeline of life.
Because if I say to you, tell me what
you were doing when you were 11 years old,
you're probably not going to--
maybe something influential happened when you were 11.
But a lot of people are like, I'm not really sure.
But if I play you a really big song from that year,
it's going to take you right back
to when you were 11 years old.
And there's something special that AI can't
do about identifying that.
But also there's so many people we're going to need AI.
So I'm interested to see what someone like
yourself comes up with next.
And hopefully, by the time you do,
I will be out of the music industry.
No, I'm kidding.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Good throw.
AUDIENCE: So, Scooter, what are your thoughts on blockchain
SCOOTER BRAUN: My thoughts are blockchain technology
is amazing, and it's going to be innovative in 100
But coins aren't needed in every single industry.
So I think having a coin associated
to every piece of blockchain technology
is why 99% of the coins will disappear.
And the ones that make sense for the technology
that they're associated with and make sense for the industry
that they're going into will survive.
And those coins will be the Amazon of this bubble.
But I think that there's a very big difference
between blockchain technology and cryptocurrency,
in my opinion.
And I think that the actual use of blockchain technology--
listen, if they can break blockchain technology,
we're all screwed.
Because that means that people can break
our entire financial system.
But I think it's going to make all of our systems
But I think that people should start educating themself
on the difference between crypto and what blockchain
is, and actually understand that it's way
too easy to make coins, and that's why most of them
But until then, I'm going to have as much fun as you are.
JESSE MICHELS: [INAUDIBLE] right in front of you.
Oh, right there.
AUDIENCE: Scooter, this has been awesome.
Thanks for coming.
You're a tremendously successful entrepreneur
across a range of industries-- tech, non-profits, music,
What excites you the most in your business?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I'm really cheesy now that I'm a dad--
I mean honestly, I get excited by challenges,
and I get excited by insults.
So when everyone is like, oh, you've done so well,
I get really bored, because I don't know where to go.
Insults have usually led me where
to go because doing the unreasonable thing
has always led to the great thing.
Doing what everyone expects-- the status quo,
the reasonable-- doesn't lead to any kind of greatness,
doesn't lead to a good story.
And I always said I wanted to be my own story instead of reading
But what gets me excited at this point--
who here is a parent?
So the people that raised their hand are going to get this.
My kid, my 3-year-old, woke me up this morning,
slapped me in my forehead, and said, Daddy, I love you.
So much better than a Grammy.
So much better than, you know, an IPO.
There's no real describing it.
Because you do all this stuff and you
don't really understand.
You're like, what am I here for?
And then you have kids.
And then you understand what you actually are here for.
You have a purpose, when you have children, that you just
didn't have before.
And there's no good time to have kids,
because you're always planning your life
and seeing it through your own eyes.
And then when they finally show up, you're like,
I don't really understand what life
would have been without you.
Yeah, I know I sucked.
You guys are leaving?
You guys want to leave?
Yeah, I know.
I saw Dave Chapelle do this one time at The Comedy Store.
He did, like, a [INAUDIBLE] when people walked out.
And he did this.
Everyone give him a round of applause because they hate me.
I like [INAUDIBLE].
What makes me excited is either the first time
I do something, being with my family, experience like that,
or when someone I work with has a first.
Like, the first time I saw this guy, Mike George, who
works for me, receive his first platinum plaque in our company,
I had, at that point in my career,
received a lot of platinum plaques.
They're in the garage.
Seeing him have the joy of that first time
reminded me of what that felt like, and that gives me joy.
So I'm kind of at a point now where
I feel like my life is kind of absurd,
and I have everything I've ever needed and a lot more.
And I only got there because I stood
on the shoulders of all these people that believed in me.
So now it's my turn to kind of work for them
and make sure I pull them up to where I'm at.
AUDIENCE: So what was your response
when Kanye West showed kind of support for Donald Trump?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I disagreed.
I mean, it's-- here's the thing.
Living in Los Angeles, I'm really
grateful that I lived in Atlanta, Georgia
until six years ago.
Living in Los Angeles and New York is amazing.
And living in the state's amazing,
because it's probably the most forward state in the nation.
But we're not without fault. The largest
separation of wealth in the country is in this state.
And people acted like they lost their damn minds when he won.
And to me, when he won, I didn't freak out.
Because that's the process.
Someone needs to win, and then you're
supposed to heal and come together.
A lot of things that he's done since
have disappointed me to a place that I'm not OK.
But I was going to give him a chance
in the beginning, because I think that's the process.
And if you don't, then you're a hypocrite.
Because if Hillary would have won and they said, oh,
we don't want to support her, we would
have been yelling at them.
So when he felt that way, I said, look,
that's your opinion.
But I also felt like he was feeling that way when
at a point where he was sick.
And I felt like there were people around him--
it was very frustrating--
I thought were taking advantage of a time where-- like,
if you saw Quincy Jones' most recent interview,
nobody should have let that person
in the house at the time.
Like, sometimes people need to be given privacy.
Just because they're public figures,
they need to be given a moment to process.
But I know his heart.
And I know that he's a human being
that I don't always agree with.
But I respect him.
And he said what he wanted to say.
And I'm allowed to have my own opinion.
You know, just because I manage someone doesn't
mean I need to agree with them.
Me and Vic Mensa, who I manage, had a big disagreement
And I was proud that he put up on his Instagram-- he said,
I know Scooter Braun vehemently disagreed with me,
and he's my manager.
But I appreciate him at least having a conversation.
I think we've messed up in this country.
And really around the world, we've
forgotten how to speak to each other.
And we're forgetting the same people
who were yelling at other people we're claiming
that we're supposed to help.
And I think we need to start having conversations
out of respect again.
Otherwise, nothing is going to change.
SCOOTER BRAUN: You've got to throw
it all the way over there.
You have to throw it.
Oh, good catch.
I thought she was going a U. She went deep.
She's got a Kirk Cousins arm.
AUDIENCE: So first of all, I was a college student in Atlanta
from 2002 to 2006.
So I probably went to some of your parties
and didn't even know it.
But you mentioned about how when you have success,
you get bored, and you're kind of always
looking for that next challenge.
So is there something on the horizon for you
that you feel like is some sort of moonshot thing
that you think you'll go after next?
Or is it just going to be bringing up
those people behind you and all of those things?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I think it's a combination.
If I want to bring them up, then I've got to keep going.
So the way I look at it, here's the challenge.
I'm 36 years old.
He's like, you've got a cool story.
If this is the end of my story, then I failed.
Because I'm 36.
The average entrepreneur hits their stride at 39.
So to me, I'm just getting started.
So I don't know, necessarily, what it is next,
and I don't like talking about stuff before it happens.
So there's things we're working on.
But I also know part of my story is going to include failure.
Because the last decade of my life has had so much success
that statistically-- if I'm really not being a moron
and paying attention to a little data--
statistically, I should have some serious failure
on the horizon.
You know, the Wall Street goes up, it goes down.
There's always got to be a correction.
So what I'm excited about is regardless
of what that correction is, it's not going to stop me.
It's just going to be a pit stop.
Because now, where the universe messed up is
they gave me too much.
Now that I got my wife and kids, I'm playing with house money.
So you can't really take anything away from me.
If I lose some money, or like lose some popular--
you know, if I drop the ball and some naysayers who
wanted to see me fail are all like, I told you so,
they're going to be super disappointed when they find out
I'm not that upset.
But I'm just going to keep going and see where it takes me.
And whatever comes next, I'm ready for it.
And I get bored.
But I also, I'm a workaholic.
I can't really shut it off.
The hardest challenge for me is work/life balance.
I'm constantly getting better.
But my wife-- she was the one who said to me.
She goes, there's a difference between being present and being
And that's the thing I'm working on the most at home,
putting the phone down and being present.
AUDIENCE: Good luck.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Thanks.
I hope you enjoyed the party back in the day.
This has been awesome.
Do you think you could have been as successful had you pursued
a completely different path?
Like, how much of your success is
attributable to your passion for music
and your craft, as opposed to just your inherent drive?
SCOOTER BRAUN: I mean, I don't know.
I know that I didn't go into life being like,
you know what I want to do?
I just wanted to be an entrepreneur.
And that's the way I've always kind of considered myself.
And I read a book about David Geffen,
where he said music was the fastest way in.
Because music takes a night.
And movies and TV and entertainment take years.
But the one song can change your life in a night.
I was like, I'm in Atlanta.
But I don't know what my life would have been.
I think there's so many points in my life
I look back and think, if I would
have turned that way instead of that way, what
would have happened?
You know, if I would've stayed in that relationship, what
would have happened?
You know, there's so many different ways I look at it.
All I know is I thank God every day I wake up,
and this is where I ended up.
Because I'm 36 years old, and whenever I get depressed,
the one thing I remind myself of is, like,
if you put my life against any 36-year-old on the planet,
I'm going to take my life.
I'm going to choose this.
This is good stuff for 36.
I'm working with this.
This is fine by me.
Except for the Jets.
We never win.
I see you with the Steelers shirt.
AUDIENCE: This is great.
And I actually listen to you on [INAUDIBLE] as well.
So I'm one of your three basketball fans.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Nice.
SCOOTER BRAUN: That was fun with Bill.
SCOOTER BRAUN: He's got to show up at my pickup game now.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, and there's not too much overlap today.
Curious-- you said that Facebook was
kind of like the one that got away on the tech side.
Curious if there's something on the artist side--
oh, I saw this person.
They didn't come with me.
SCOOTER BRAUN: I mean, there's a bunch of different ones.
But I really-- it's like Facebook.
I don't have a regret.
I feel like it just led me one way to another.
I mean, a funny story is I knew Macklemore before he blew up.
We were friends, and I knew about him in Seattle.
And he had the mix tape, and it was just all the hits.
But it wasn't out yet.
And he sent it to me.
We were talking.
And I was just like, is there any way
I can get you to sign over here?
And he said, look, the only person I would sign with
So I hit up Drake.
And I'm like, you should do this.
And he's like, OK, hit.
And he tells me one of his guys, you know,
to hit-- who he trusts on the A&R side.
And Drake and I weren't in business the way we are now,
but we were friends.
And his guy just didn't pay attention and passed.
And when Macklemore's album went number one, they were like,
don't tell Drake.
But, like I said, I wake up and I look at my life.
I don't want to look back and have regrets.
I think the only thing you should
have regret about is things that you do that were malicious.
Missing out on stuff or anything like that,
I don't have regrets.
That's part of the journey.
But if you do something malicious--
I'll tell you something I have regret about.
I was at basketball camp when I was in seventh grade or eighth
grade-- like sleep away camp--
and these older kids, a year older than me-- they
were real cool.
They were like, come hang with us.
Because I was good.
And they were like, man, this kid in our hall, he's a dork.
And I'm like, dork--
I'm a dork.
And they broke into his room while he wasn't there
and they put all his shorts on the ground.
They're like, Scooter, pee on it.
And I knew it was wrong.
But these older kids were peer pressuring me,
and I peed on this poor kid's clothes.
The camp-- it gets reported.
Kid's having to wear his bathing suit to play and stuff,
because there's pee.
And I just felt so bad.
I was like, screw these kids.
So I went up to him and I said, I did this to you.
I'm so sorry.
Screw these kids.
I reported myself.
They didn't let me play in the all-star game
even though I had made the all-star team
at the end of the week.
And to this day, even though I made it right,
kind of, I never forgot that, because I
was like, that's regret.
I knew better.
I shouldn't have done that.
But everything else in my life--
if I missed out, I missed out.
I didn't do anything bad.
I shouldn't have peed on his clothes, man.
What seventh grader does that?
Also, his mom-- he didn't tell his mom that we made good--
so I didn't tell my dad what happened.
He didn't understand why I wasn't in the all-star game.
And the last day of camp, the parents come.
And the mom--
I'm sitting there, and she comes up.
You disgusting little kid.
How dare you pee on my son's clothes.
I'm like, what?
He's like, no, mom.
We're good now.
And my dad's like, what are you doing?
And I was like, I don't know dad.
And then he goes, how dare you say my son.
She goes, he peed.
He goes, he did not pee.
And all of the sudden, he looks at me.
And I'm like-- and he goes, oh, you're dead.
And that was not a good interaction
with my dad at that time.
Coach Braun was not happy with me.
AUDIENCE: Hey, Scooter.
Question-- what are conversations at the dinner
table like with your family?
The Emanuels bring their work to the table,
and their narrative reminds me a lot of your family's as well.
So I was curious if your family has a similar--
SCOOTER BRAUN: So, question.
Do you want to know what it was like growing up
or what is it like now?
AUDIENCE: Let's do the growing up.
SCOOTER BRAUN: Growing up--
it was very important to my parents
that we sat down at the table and had a family meal.
And my parents were 9:00 to 5:00.
Because my dad was a coach and then he was a dentist.
And my mom was an orthodontist.
So they could be home every single night
when work was done.
And it was always important for us to sit around the table
and have a conversation.
And me and my brother were very competitive,
and we'd get into fights because we were only two years apart.
But if we fought too much, then dad got involved,
and he was bigger and stronger and fights better.
But it was very much challenges, extremely competitive
Me and my dad were definitely the loudest.
My mom, when she spoke, everyone shut up and listened,
because she was the quiet boss.
My dad would talk a lot, but if my mom spoke, it was like, OK.
We're done now.
But it was always, what did you do today?
Very competitive, kind of pushing each other, but also
a tremendous amount of love.
There was high praise.
We were appreciated for our achievements,
and we were always told--
every night before we went to bed,
my dad used to come to my room-- as long as I
can remember-- and say, hey.
Brauns are different.
And we were like, what does that mean?
And he would always say, it doesn't
mean you're better than anybody, but you're different.
And I hold you to extraordinary standards
because I think you're extraordinary.
And after a while, you begin to believe the propaganda.
So we went into life just believing
that we could do anything because he had ingrained that
What our conversations are like today is,
Levi will usually say, ahh.
[TONGUE FLAPPING] Ahh.
Jagger has a new song called onion man.
The lyrics are, onion man, onion man, onion man, onion man,
over and over and over again for about half an hour.
AUDIENCE: Sample that.
SCOOTER BRAUN: And then my wife and I
are just trying to have a conversation while they're
awake, and then we usually talk once we get them down asleep.
But actually, I'll tell you a good conversation
about my wife, because I haven't spoken about her a lot today.
But I want to give you an understanding
of why I am the way I am.
So, she didn't want to date me because I was
in the entertainment industry.
And I saw her TED Talk on Fuck Cancer,
and it made me want to meet her.
And I had to trick her into a date
when I found out she was single like a year later.
JESSE MICHELS: How'd you do that?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Well, she thought she
was going to drinks with a bunch of people.
When she showed up, it was just me.
And I had my friends set it up.
And then, like the first date, we kind of
fell in love pretty quickly, and that was that.
But now we're together for a while,
and I think some of you in this room
might have heard that Justin Bieber had
a turbulent time in his life.
Things weren't always so easy for the young man.
And that was a very, very, hard about a year
and a half, two years.
And one day, he and some other clients
were going through stuff and it was just
like four days of just really bad stuff.
And I was bringing it home night after night after night.
We're getting in bed.
I'm bringing it home.
And she is just like, look.
You can't keep bringing this to bed
because I'm not getting any of you.
You've got to cut it off when we go to bed.
And in the classic entertainment prick move,
I respond with, look.
You have to understand this is what I do for a living.
You don't appreciate what I do.
This is how I provide.
This is how I am able to do everything.
And my wife looks at me and she says, OK, cool.
So I was helping someone with chemo today.
I'm going to bring that to bed.
And I shut up, realize instantly how much I loved her and said,
I love you so much.
Because my wife is the number-one person
who introduced in my life the difference
between problems and inconveniences.
When we work in this world of tech or entertainment
or wealth, you tend to think that what you're doing
is very, very important.
And 99% of the stuff I deal with is inconveniences-- high-class
inconveniences, but inconveniences.
And what my wife deals with is problems.
And I think she taught me the difference,
so it's given me perspective.
JESSE MICHELS: That's awesome.
AUDIENCE: I'm writing that down.
Problems versus inconveniences-- I like it.
AUDIENCE: Throw it?
SCOOTER BRAUN: Good.
You guys are very athletic.
Everyone has perfect throws.
No one's dropped.
AUDIENCE: First of all--
SCOOTER BRAUN: Can we sign them to the Jets?
Yeah, we need you.
AUDIENCE: I appreciate you being very honest and candid and not
I like all the stories you've been telling.
So, a lot of people like the entertainment
industry in all its fame and glory and wealth,
and a lot of people want to stay far away from it
because of all the egos.
In your journey through the entertainment industry,
what have you learned to really like about it
and what have you really hated about it?
SCOOTER BRAUN: What I like about it
is, most of the stuff I do that I get
paid for I would actually do for free,
like to be able to go to a show or help someone make a record
or make a TV show or a film or advise someone on a tech--
Most of that stuff I would do for free.
The bullshit is what I get paid for, the stuff that I hate,
the inconvenience versus problems,
and people not understanding the difference.
But the hardest part--
does that answer the good part well enough?
And also, when you're in an elevator
or when you're in a restaurant and the background music
is a record that you were a part of--
that's actually a really cool feeling.
Because you're not really paying attention and you're like,
why do I know this?
And all of a sudden you're like, I helped put this together.
That's pretty damn cool.
Or I just made $0.25 because I have the publishing.
The hard part is knowing your truth.
And I think it's highlighted in entertainment
because it's so high-profile, but knowing your truth is
really the hard part because people that even I think know
my character, that have gotten to know me, have been like--
because of their own issues or whatever--
they will call you out on your truth and say,
well, I think you're in it for the wrong reasons.
They'll kind of put you down.
They'll project their negativity on to you.
And because I decided early on, OK, I
want to build a brand that I can build off of,
I did put a target on my back.
And having to know who I am and what I stand for
and what I believe in and who I love
and who loves me has been the greatest challenge of holding
onto that so I don't get lost in other people's expectations
not even expectations-- their projections
of what they want to see to make themselves feel better.
And understanding that you don't have
to be friends with everybody.
You could be polite to everyone.
You could be kind to everyone, but you're not