It’s a tale as old as time: A person uploads their videos to YouTube, and they instantly become famous. Well, it might not be the case for everyone, but for Justin Bieber, that’s exactly how his career began. According to Forbes, Scooter Braun became Bieber’s manager after stumbling upon the pop star’s YouTube videos in 2008.
After discovering Bieber, Braun “flew” the young singer to Atlanta, Ga., where he eventually got to “meet Usher” — (Yes, that Usher!) — and record some tunes in the studio, Bieber told Good Morning America in 2009. Initially, the R&B singer signed the “Yummy” singer to Raymond Braun Media Group – a joint venture between Braun and Usher, per Forbes. However, Bieber was ultimately signed to Island Records, which resulted in a partnership between RBMG and Island Records.
Eventually, “Bieber Fever” became a well-known trend all over the world. However, Braun is quick to point out that Bieber’s fame didn’t happen overnight. “We built his YouTube channel over three years,” the record exec told Forbes in 2011. “He had a bigger YouTube channel before we even did a record deal with Usher.”
“All the statistics pointed at the internet, and kids are spending more time on the internet as opposed to TV and radio, the mainstream didn’t realize the impact because there wasn’t validity till Justin became big,” Braun continued. “YouTube is bare bones and all we did was use a flip video camera.”
So, is Bieber still close with the man who discovered him? We take a look at their relationship below.
Scooter Braun is responsible for finding 'a truly talented' Justin Bieber
Clearly, Scooter Braun saw something in Justin Bieber from the start. After the music executive watched Bieber in a bunch of YouTube videos from a local singing competition, he turned the singer into an international sensation in just a few short years. “Justin is truly talented. He is that special superstar that you see once in a lifetime,” Braun told Forbes in 2011 about his client.
So, what made Bieber stand out from the other amazing musicians out there? “He plays four instruments, self-taught,” Braun added. “He showed that in his YouTube channel. He had an incredible tone in his voice. He was captivating, and I think that the marketing was right.”
Braun — who also signed artist Asher Roth around the same time as Bieber — didn’t exactly know what he was getting into when he started managing the Canada native, but he took a chance that worked in his favor. “I signed Justin when he had 70,000 views on YouTube, not 50 million,” Braun noted to Forbes. “I signed Asher Roth when he had 60 friends on his MySpace. My philosophy was that you could build them online. I’m not someone who jumped in and said, ‘Look at what they have, let me chase them.’ This is something that we build from the ground up together.”
Scooter Braun 'never gave up' on Justin Bieber during challenging times
From 2013 to 2014, it’s safe to say Justin Bieber made some questionable decisions. During that time period, the singer was arrested for drinking and driving in Miami, Fla. and was caught telling his friends a racist joke in a video that leaked online, among other incidents. Not to mention, Bieber admitted via Instagram in September 2019 that he “started doing pretty heavy drugs at 19 and abused all of [his] relationships.”
Despite the ups and downs, Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun — who also reps A-listers Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande — stuck by the Grammy winner’s side. “I was not going to give up on him, I was not going to let him die, I was not going to put him in that position of: ‘Oh, let’s just keep him working,'” Braun told The Guardian in 2018.
“It was worse than people realized,” Braun told The Wall Street Journal in 2017 about the challenges Bieber had to overcome in the limelight. “I failed him day after day. We were living in hell because he was in such a dark place.” Even “[s]ome of the biggest people in the industry” warned Braun that Bieber’s career was over at the time. “[They] told me, ‘It’s over. Focus on something else. That kid is done,'” the New York native added. Obviously, Braun stuck to his guns. “I made a promise to him when he was 13 that I would never give up on him. I plan on keeping that promise.”
Scooter Braun calls Justin Bieber 'family'
After all Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun have been through over the years, the two have an incredibly close bond. “He’s family. I think the relationship is more like a big brother, especially because he’s become a man,” Braun told The Wall Street Journal in 2017 about his connection to the musical artist. “I think he’s seen the worst of himself, and to watch him rise out of it was amazing.”
Bieber even invited Braun and his wife, Yael Cohen, in addition to his mentor Usher to his 2019 wedding to Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) in South Carolina, per the Daily Mail. “Incredible weekend celebrating love. Congrats to The Biebers. @justinbeieber @haileybieber we love you,” Braun wrote on Instagram at the time.
Before Bieber put out his album Changes in February 2020, he got emotional while talking about his friendship with Braun at an event, according to Variety. “You walked with me through a lot of s**t,” Bieber told the crowd while getting choked up about his manager. Clearly, Bieber and Braun can take on the world together — the music world that is. We can’t wait to see what else these two have up their sleeve.
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