Braun, Bieber and big breaks

Monday, September 24, 2012

Over the Labor Day weekend, I was on a boat anchored in Chandler’s Cove in Casco Bay Harbor when I picked up the latest issue of The New Yorker and read a profile of Scooter Braun, the guy who found and now manages Justin Bieber. (It was a 17-and-a-half-foot, center-console fishing boat lest you get any ideas of grandeur.)

I’m not a Bieber fan. I don’t even think I’ve ever heard one of his songs, let alone smelled his perfume. (It’s called “Someday.”)

But there’s one thing you need to know about The New Yorker: Its writers find a way to make almost anything interesting (I still have fond memories of “They’re in the river,” an article by John McPhee about shad fishing. I mean, shad fishing?).

This profile of Braun was no exception. It turns out he has an interesting back story: He went to Emory University in Atlanta to play Division 3 basketball but he quit the team and dropped out of college after he successfully launched a career for himself, first as a party planner, then as a head of marketing of a major record label. Now he manages Bieber, who rakes in a reported $50 million per year, has a house in the Hollywood Hills and gets driven around in his assistant’s BMW.

But the article became even more interesting when I started making some parallels between the music industry and the HME industry, both of which are beleaguered, to say the least.

This pretty much sums up the state of affairs in the music business: A few years ago, when Braun met David Geffen, a famous record executive, Geffen told him, “Get out of the music 


Braun took Geffen’s advice seriously, but he didn’t get out of the music business. He changed the way he looked at the music business.

He diversified into publishing, TV and film (Did a daughter or niece drag you to see “Never Say Never,” the 3-D concert film featuring Bieber?). He leverages social media like Twitter and Facebook, and video-sharing websites like YouTube. He did this all in the name of furthering the careers of Bieber and new artists like Carly Rae Jepsen (Her “Call Me Maybe” has been dubbed the song of the summer).

Braun told The New Yorker: “This isn’t a dying business, this is a changing business.” 

One could very much say the same thing about the HME business.