After we recently interviewed entrepreneur Scooter Braun (he said being called a music manager in his own “twisted mind” was a sort of disrespect toward him), the group of William Paterson University Music & Entertainment Industries students were standing together for a picture with him. He brought a conversation he’d had with someone at another university. “They had a whole thing on me,” he said, “and I was freaked out about it.”
“What should we study, if we were going to make a class about you?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just did it.”
True. Scooter had just spent about an hour and fifteen minutes answering questions that ranged from how he makes, and attains, the best deals for his artists, lessons he’s learned, and the 2017 Manchester bombing at a concert starring his client, Ariana Grande. The full interview is below, including some unofficial content at the very beginning, mostly small talk and banter, that can give you a bit of an idea of what type of guy he is. Then, you hear the questions and answers.
Scooter Braun: The Art of the deal
Scroll through the interview to around 18 minutes. The engineer of the Music Biz 101 & More radio show, Ashley Weltner, asked, “As an artist manager how do you assure that your artist is getting the best deal that they can get?”
Scooter jumped on the question. You can hear the energy in his voice. “That’s the fun of the music business,” he said. So what are his strategies? He mentioned a few.
“You push for something that’s unheard of. You push for the best.”
“Make sure that any deal you do, you can walk away.
If you know you can walk away, you’ve won before the negotiation has even started.”
“Establish a reputation for yourself early.”
Scooter says that he’s purposely taken small details of a deal and “flipped out” about them, ultimately walking away. His reasoning? “I’m not blowing up this deal. I’m making the next one. I’m establishing a behavior for them. When I say I’m out, I’m out.”
Scooter is in a different place than most people now, so it’s easier for him to walk away from a deal. “This is a place of privilege that I’m saying this. My business is large enough now and I’ve had enough success that no artist is going to change my lifestyle.”
Here’s where the new manager, or manager still in the earlier stages of artist development is different. “I can do things on behalf of my artists that maybe some other managers can’t do because they depend on that deal paying the rent or paying their mortgage the next day. And I’m in a place where I have no problem doing what’s right and not even thinking about what the money means to me because I already went through that process. I sit down with an artist and say, ‘You don’t have to worry that I’m ever going to be greedy because I don’t need to be.’ And that’s a very different place than a lot of people.”
Listen to the full interview for more great tips. We’ll post more highlights from the interview over the coming weeks.
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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music & Entertainment Industries and Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition. Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.