Before girls all over the world were screaming his name, Justin Bieber was just a twelve-year-old kid from Ontario, Canada, who sang for his church service on Sundays.
Contrary to popular myth, Justin didn’t become a music sensation overnight. It took the backbone and belief of a man named Scooter Braun to make it happen.
Scooter Braun grew up in Cos Cob, Connecticut, son of a Hungarian immigrant and grandchild of Holocaust survivors. Of all his children, Braun’s father said he always knew Scooter would be successful.
Successful is an understatement
Scooter’s management team now hosts a roster of some of the biggest names in music history. That’s right, some of the biggest pop stars ever; Ariana Grande, Tori Kelly and Justin Bieber included.
Scooter himself is enjoying wild success. But for the thirty-seven-year-old entertainment mogul, life wasn’t always so affluent.
Before Scooter discovered Bieber on YouTube, he was a college student who had dropped out after a year-and-a-half. “I had all these ideas about social media,” he says, “but no one was listening to me. Music is at its biggest when there is a feeling of self-discovery, and for these kids that was social media.”
Willing to prove his beliefs to the entertainment world, Scooter started his own management company in his freshman year. A few years later, he signed rapper Asher Roth off of MySpace and just four months after that, Scooter discovered Justin Bieber in a YouTube video singing to his church congregation.
“I knew I could make this kid one of the biggest artists in the world,” Scooter says. “I just knew instantly.”
Powering through adversity
What most people don’t know is that Scooter not only sponsored the making of Bieber’s first record, he also paid for Justin and his mother’s living expenses — groceries, utilities, everything.
On one particularly difficult day, Scooter had to count out quarters he had saved in a jar just to pay for their pizzas. “Because I had no money,” he says.
He was broke and his management company was just weeks from having to close. “Everyone in Atlanta thought I had money, thought I was successful. But I knew the truth.”
“I was the first person in my family to grow up with any kind of means, and in a weird way it put a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove to myself, to the world, to my family that I could build something on my own.”
That could have been the end of the Justin Bieber story as we know it, but Scooter’s father called to check up on his son, and on that phone call, Scooter broke down crying. “Dad, I’m going to be a failure. Everyone’s about to find out.”
Scooter’s father didn’t bail him out. Instead, he told him exactly what he needed to hear: “You’ve come this far. Now see it through.”
And see it through, he did.
The very next day, Asher Roth brought a new song to his house called I Love College and instantly, Scooter knew what to do.
Within a month, the song generated a publishing deal of a million dollars and saved the company.
From that place of growth, Scooter was able to make a turnaround in his story and create the Justin Bieber we know today.
“That was the first time I discovered that tomorrow really comes,” Scooter Braun says now. “The homes of success and failure are right next door to each other. If I would have given up in that moment, I never would have known that success was waiting for me right next door.”
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