Scooter In The New Yorker

“Teen Titan”

Do you know Jerry Perenchio?

I doubt it. But he was once a successful talent agent who promoted the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs television match and then bought and sold Univision… That makes him a billionaire. And you’ve got no idea who he is. But that all comes down to his corporate philosophy, you never talk to the press, hell he fired one of his bigwigs when they did, even though the resulting press was positive! Rules are rules.

Then there’s Shep Gordon. Alice Cooper was a wannabe on Frank Zappa’s label and then Shep got involved and made him a superstar. Then Shep did the same thing with Blondie, the band was languishing on Private Stock, now they were on Chrysalis selling millions of albums. I saw Shep at the IEBA conference a few years back, they were giving him and Alice lifetime achievement awards. The only words Shep spoke were to introduce Alice, saying he’d continued to be his manager for all these years by knowing who was the star.

I’ve got no idea why Scooter Braun agreed to do this piece. The only people who read “The New Yorker” are erudite east coasters. Maybe that’s who he wanted to impress, the local boy college dropout who did good. But you can never impress these people… Because you didn’t go to the right college and don’t go to the right events, it doesn’t even matter how much money you’ve made, you’re outside.

Not that this mistake isn’t common. David Geffen gave access to Tom King, a “Wall Street Journal” writer, helping him pen a biography. Too late, he realized his mistake. “The Operator” came out and Geffen’s career has been tainted ever since. The choices Geffen made made him appear to be a monster, something which insiders suspected but never confirmed, but once it was in print… And unlike “The New Yorker,” everybody in the business read “The Operator.”

Now more people than east coast intellectual snobs read “The New Yorker,” but it plays within its own walled garden. There’s essentially no upside to being in the magazine. And as someone who handles talent, doesn’t Scooter know that there’s no such thing as a totally positive article? That that’s not how they do it? I usually say no. Especially since I’m in the same business, I’m a writer. I’m not gonna look good. Couldn’t Scooter say no? Be happy being an uber-manager?


But if you look beyond the self-centeredness and the delusion that he’s a kingmaker who’s gonna last, and the bending of the rules that all these people commit, hell, someone e-mailed me a great quote the other day from Honore de Balzac, “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”, ain’t that the truth, it’s clear that without Scooter, Justin Bieber is nowhere. I’m not talking now, I’m talking about when he was making YouTube videos in Canada.

The article focuses on social media, how Bieber was broken. But that’s missing the point. The real point is the media was manipulated. Now that’s in the article too… As well as the short life of most teen phenoms. But the point I want to make, which is referenced minimally in “The New Yorker” piece, is that the manager is the most important part of the game.

Look at history. Whether it be David Krebs or Cliff Burnstein or Terry McBride in his heyday. Aerosmith was a nonstarter without Krebs and his partner Steve Leber. Def Leppard already had stiff albums in the marketplace when Cliff and his partner Peter Mensch took them over and the band went stratospheric. And Barenaked Ladies were a backwater novelty act until Terry hatched the plan that made them stars. Sure, the acts had talent, but it was the managerial expertise that broke them through.

And don’t read this article for tips, believing you can become Scooter Braun. Great managers are born, not made. Scooter lies about growing up with African-American brothers, can you lie about your college degree? David Geffen did. There’s no handbook you can study that will make you a great manager, and signing and keeping talent is a skill unto itself… Ever notice that nobody leaves Irving Azoff? He may kick them out, but everybody else stays…because they’ve never found a better advocate.

So much smoke has been blown about Justin Bieber that the truth has been obscured. He’s just another teen act, destined for the dustbin. Exceptions are extremely rare. Remember when they said the Jonas Brothers were forever?

But hustlers are forever.

Scooter Braun is a hustler. No different from the men who created Hollywood, who created the music business.

And one thing a hustler knows is to never reveal his tricks.

The fact that Scooter Braun did shows me he doesn’t truly understand the game, that he’s too focused on today, not tomorrow.

We don’t need any of these acts. You’re privileged to work in the entertainment business. You fight to get in, and keep fighting to stay in. And if you think you know everything, you’re headed for a fall. Geffen and Azoff are exceptions. Lifers are not the rule. Usually, you’re kicked out. But you don’t realize it until it’s too late, when everybody has been whispering for eons behind your back. Perception is everything, and you’re perceived to be a has-been.

So read this article. It’s well done.

But it will have minimal impact, other than amongst people in Scooter’s circle. You see “The New Yorker” prides itself on being above the fray, the last, most important word. And it’s damn good, but now you’ve got to fight for your attention. And “The New Yorker” does not. If newspapers can crash, “The New Yorker” can too. It’s got no web strategy, and the target audience of a piece like this is almost completely unaware of it. Self-promoting Howard Stern rags on Jay Leno and it’s all over Radar and the HuffPo… There are 6,260 hits on the Google News alone, check it out, Google “Howard Stern Jay Leno NBC”. Now Google “Scooter Braun New Yorker” in the Google News…757 results. Get my point? A good manager would see “The New Yorker” is not prepared for the future, is losing ground as it’s coasting along oblivious.

Scooter Braun would never let this happen.

Nor would Geffen or Azoff.

But they’re fighting for their piece of the pie every damn day. They’re not self-satisfied old schoolers who believe they’re entitled to their piece.

No one’s entitled to their piece anymore.

Especially teenage pop stars.

Comments are closed