Ariana Grande has parted ways with Scooter Braun and HYBE despite claims to the contrary, a source with inside knowledge of the situation confirms to Variety.
“Scooter’s team is spinning the story. Ariana is leaving both Scooter and HYBE. There is absolutely no truth to her staying,” the source said in a statement, noting that the singer unfollowed Braun on social media earlier this week. “They are friendly but she’s outgrown him and is excited to go in a different direction,” the source continued. “Yes, there are negotiations [with Braun] happening because of contracts. But this is her choice. It’s time for something new.”
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The news was previously reported by Billboard, but refuted by sources close to Braun.
Multiple sources also say that Justin Bieber and possibly other artists are in the process of negotiating exits from Braun’s company and seeking new management. Last week sources close to Braun said that Bieber and Grande were not leaving the company, but rather Braun is continuing to step back from day-to-day management to focus on his role as CEO of HYBE America, the South Korean entertainment giant behind K-pop titans BTS, to which he sold Ithaca Holdings, the parent company for his SB Projects management business, for a whopping $1.05 billion in 2021. The sources said that both Grande and Bieber were still negotiating with Braun, however, today’s statement would seem to close the door on any future working relationship on her part.
One source tells Variety that Grande took meetings with at least one management firm before deciding to build her own team, with her mother Joan in a strong position. That source said she has a model in mind similar to that of Taylor Swift and other major artists, whereby management personnel are paid a healthy annual salary rather than by commission — a structure many successful artists find more appealing as their revenue streams grow and diversify.
However, the source close to her camp said that while she has received multiple inquiries from a number of potential managers, she is taking her time to figure out her next move. The singer has been deep in her next major project, the lead role in Universal’s big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked,” although that isn’t due in theaters until November of 2024.
What is perhaps most unusual about Grande and Bieber is that neither artist has released a major project under their own name in several years: Grande has released singles with the Weeknd and others but has not released any music under her own name since her “Positions” album in the fall of 2020; Bieber has dropped a few singles but his last full album was “Justice” in early 2021. The artists are 30 and 29 respectively, peak years for artists on their scale: For just two examples, at 30, Madonna released “Like a Prayer” and Justin Timberlake was at the commercial peak of his music and acting careers.
However, to be fair, Grande released six albums in seven years and has been deep in making “Wicked” for the past year; Bieber was on tour and in ill health; they’d both earned breaks, although it is a long time for such major artists to go without releasing new music.
Variety will have more on the situation as it develops.
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