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Scooter Braun Exodus: Who Owns Art?

The biggest news in the music scene these past two weeks has been the bevy of artists separating from A-list talent manager Scooter Braun. 
Madelyn Foulger
(Design by Madelyn Foulger | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


One of the biggest news stories in the music scene these past two weeks has been the bevy of artists separating from A-list talent manager Scooter Braun.

Karma’s a Relaxing Thought, Aren’t You Envious That For You It’s Not

On Aug. 21, news began spreading that Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber were no longer being represented by Braun. Officially, Braun is offloading his managerial responsibilities to focus on his new role as CEO of HYBE America, a company to which he sold his management company Ithaca Holdings in 2021.

But, that hasn’t stopped people on X, formerly known as Twitter, from coming up with a plethora of far more sinister motives behind the mass exodus. Immediately, rumors of malicious behavior, secret plots and possible criminal investigations flooded the internet.

The most compelling ones are those presented by the ever-investigative Swifties.

‘I’ve had enough’

Any fan of Taylor Swift is not a fan of Scooter Braun. Braun infamously bought the masters to Swift’s first six albums from the record label the musician signed to when she was a teen. This spurred the ire of millions of Swifties across the globe.

Swift has long used her status to protest the exploitation of artists by the music industry. From 2014 to 2017, she removed her entire discography from Spotify to highlight the minuscule royalties musicians receive for streams.

Swift was essentially cheated out of the rights to the music she herself wrote and recorded by a record label she signed to at age 14, a story that is sadly common in the entertainment industry. ‘90s girl group TLC famously filed for bankruptcy in 1995 despite selling over 15 million records the year before. The vast majority of this money went to record labels, travel expenses and music video fees.

The way the industry functions also leaves those cheated financially at the hands of those who own their music. Earlier this year, Rina Sawayama called out Matty Healy for racist remarks made against Ice Spice. At the time, Healy was the director of her music label and owned her masters.

Kesha’s legal battle to be released from her record deal with alleged abuser Dr. Luke only recently came to a close after years of litigation. Swift herself has claimed Braun tried to prohibit her from even performing the songs he owned. Imagine the Eras Tour with only “Lover” on.

Who Owns Art?

We may not know the truth about why so many celebrities, including Justin Bieber, who Braun discovered back in 2008, are suddenly moving away from the manager. However, what we do know about Braun’s less-than-ethical business practices highlights some of the darkest parts of our incredibly exploitative music industry.

As the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes fight against AI replacements and indiscriminate use of actors’ images, we have to wonder what the entire entertainment industry will look like if we don’t establish to what degree a person can own another human’s artwork.


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About the Contributors
Edie Raines, Copy Editor
Edie Raines is a copy editor at the Daily Utah Chronicle and used to be an arts writer. They are pursuing a degree in English and French at the U.
Madelyn Foulger, Social Media Manager, Design Contributer
Madelyn started at the Chronicle in 2022 as a social media contributor and designer before becoming Social Media Manager in May 2023. She's majoring in film and media arts with a minor in human rights and resources. Madelyn enjoys various creative pursuits, including writing, illustration, design, film, and photography.

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