Braun Bought Out: One Of Music’s Biggest Managers joins HYBE
Taylor Swift. Just the mere mention of her name sparks a fervor so big, the music industry itself can’t contain it.
Among all the names in pop music, there is perhaps none more worshipped than Taylor. Just about everyone from lifelong fans to casual listeners is aware of her latest undertaking: the re-recording of just about all of her music. This extensive project involves the reinvention of Taylor’s massive catalog, breathing new life into some of pop music’s greatest hits.
But whether you’re a diehard Swiftie or simply a fly on the wall, you have to be aware of the cause of this re-recording adventure: a man by the name of Scooter Braun.
Initially known as the man behind Justin Bieber’s meteoric rise, and then subsequently known as the most hated man in the Taylor Swift fandom, Scooter Braun has quickly become one of the most controversial names in the music business. Most known for his companies SB Projects and Ithica Holdings, Braun’s artist roster is even more colossal than his reputation, with his firm representing megastars such as Ariana Grande, J Balvin, Kanye West, and Carly Rae Jepsen.
But this story isn’t about Scooter and Bieber or Scooter and Taylor, but about Braun’s relationship to music’s newest supergroup, BTS, or at least their parent company, HYBE. Owned by Bang Si-Hyuk and Formerly known as BigHit entertainment, HYBE is the South Korean entertainment juggernaut responsible for the rise of BTS, and subsequently, Kpop in the west.
On Friday, April 2nd, Scooter Braun sold the entirety of his Ithaca Holdings – including SB Projects and Big Machine Label Group to HYBE. Worth up to 1.05 Billion Dollars, this deal is one of the biggest mergers in modern music history. HYBE America purchased a 100% stake in Braun’s holdings. Braun is not completely out of the picture, as he will join the board of HYBE, with Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta keeping his job.
In a recent press release, HYBE announced:
“With Ithaca Holdings, HYBE sets an important stepping-stone in expanding into the global market and establishes a global top-tier multi-label structure. Ithaca Holdings’ market and industry expertise will expedite HYBE artists’ entry in the U.S. market and beyond and solidify HYBE’s competitiveness in the global market.”
In a further statement, the company declared:
“This deal brings together a range of services including management, label services and publishing for global artists BTS, TXT, SEVENTEEN, NU’EST, GFRIEND, ENHYPEN, ZICO, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, J Balvin, Demi Lovato, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Lady A and more.”
Along with SB projects, this merger includes the acquisition of companies such as Atlas Music Publishing, plus Raised In Space – the music startup accelerator. When interviewed about the merger, HYBE CEO Bang Si-Hyuk responded:
“The two companies will work closely together leveraging our proven track records of success, know-how, and expertise to create synergy, transcend borders and break down cultural barriers. Please look forward to the endless possibilities of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings, and the new paradigm the partnership will establish in the music industry.”
Clearly, this seems like a great move for HYBE, as far as their expansion goes. But what about Braun? what does he get out of it? When questioned about his new role, Braun had this to say:
“We have launched amazing careers and brands and released incredible content into the world. We are ecstatic to partner with Chairman Bang and HYBE to further the global reach of both companies and the artists as we continue to grow our company and their careers across entertainment, technology, commerce and content.”
All of this news comes after HYBE announced last month that they were partnering with Universal Music Group to create a new boy band based in the U.S.
This deal fundamentally changes the future of music. As the industry becomes more and more consolidated, it is clear that some of our favorite artists may be headed in a fundamentally different direction. HYBE, a Kpop juggernaut, has now become a global entity, expanding into markets far beyond South Korea and far beyond just Kpop. I have thought for a long time that the Korean model of large entertainment conglomerates and factory-produced music will quickly take over the west, and this deal just confirms that intuition.
I can’t say right now what exactly will happen, but what we do know is, many of the biggest names in music are now under the ownership of a multinational business conglomerate responsible for the meteoric rise of the biggest boyband in modern music history, which means that from a business perspective, music will never look the same again.
Arie Likhtman is a double major in music industry studies and Critical Communication and Media Studies with a minor in philosophy at Butler University. Originally from St.Louis Missouri, he has played music since the age of 4, studying everything from classical piano to ballroom dance to saxophone. He is deeply passionate about all aspects of music from the hot 100 charts to underground indie rock. He hopes to use his voice as a writer to bring new artists to the forefront of the conversation, and to offer new perspectives on music, culture, and society as a whole