Scooter Braun represents some of the biggest names in music, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Carly Rae Jepsen. But Braun and his company, SB Projects, are making serious inroads into film and television, starting with the hit CBS drama “Scorpion,” now in its second season, and the new MTV series “Todrick.”
In addition to what’s currently on the air, the company is developing upcoming film and TV projects with documentary filmmaker RJ Cutler (“The War Room”), Swedish music producer Adam Anders, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, as well as companies like Legendary Entertainment, Anonymous Content and the French-based indie animation firm Cyber Group Studios.
“That was the plan,” SB Projects’ chief operating officer Scott Manson told TheWrap. “Start with music, punch our way up, and then once we had some momentum and success try to identify those strategic, best-in-class partners in growth areas of the business and align ourselves with them and try to figure out how to add value working alongside of them in their core businesses while learning along the way.”
Manson, 34, joined SB Projects in 2012. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer at O’Melveny & Myer LLP in Century City and worked on commercial litigation cases for Fortune 500 clients under Dan Petrocelli, one of the top trial lawyers in the country.
Manson also spoke about Braun’s day-to-day role in the company, how Braun’s clients’ social media followings help promote new projects, and if Justin Bieber will take the lead in a scripted feature film anytime soon.
Why is SB Projects branching out from music into film and television?
That was always the plan, to build a diversified entertainment and media company. When Scooter was 19, he read a book about David Geffen called “The Operator” and what David said in that book was the fastest way to the top of the entertainment world is through music. You can find a record, break an artist, and they can become a global business where you can build relationships with all of these different people who are going to want you for television, film, publishing and Broadway.
What are the differences between working in music and working in television and film?
At our core, we build brands. So whether that is Scooter and Justin Bieber working together to build the Bieber brand or its our team working to build the “Scorpion” television brand, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of the strategy and the thoughtfulness that goes into building the businesses. The fundamental difference is one is a service business, so it’s a business based on clients and personalities, and that’s the management business.
And when you get into content and consumer products, those are asset-driven business. So there’s a little less emotion involved because the relationships are different, but even in those instances you obviously have human interaction with your partners on a project.
How hands-on is Scooter Braun in the film and television side of the business?
He knows everything that we attach to, when we’re taking it out. He attends the pitches where we need him to be with potential buyers and potential partners. He really drives the overall brand so we’ll bring an idea in that we’re really excited about but we won’t pursue it if it’s not really on brand for our company, so he’s great with the overall strategic vision, and otherwise delegates and supports when projects in development heat up and we need him to come in and be that salesman or bull in a China shop. Whatever the situation requires.
Will Justin Bieber be making his feature film debut any time soon?
We probably will not see him in a feature film this year, and he’s going back out on the road for a global tour next year. So if we were to find the right project and if we were able to figure out a gap in his schedule, anything’s possible. But Justin is a perfectionist. Dramatic acting, I think we all feel like even if it’s a short production schedule, like a six-week shoot, we would need a lot of prep time beforehand to make sure he’s got the chops and he’s developed his skills. If and when that is to happen, we want to do it the right way.
How do you leverage Scooter’s clients’ social media presence into generating buzz for new projects?
One of the most special things about the company is it really does feel like a family office in terms of the culture we’re trying to develop, and so whether it’s promoting another artist’s release or whether it’s an artist promoting something Scooter is doing outside of the scope of his management role, there’s a sense of community where everybody really supports one another.
And they do it with each other too, which is so special and something we work really hard to express even when potential clients come in about how warm and supportive the SB Projects family is. And we’ve seen that bear fruit for the artists as they promote each other and for the company as the artists promote for us. It’s just this never-ending cycle of support that we hope will continue.