In the first major discovery of an artist on YouTube, videos posted by Bieber and seen by Braun on YouTube led to an unprecedented success story that disrupted the traditional gatekeepers of the music industry. Bieber has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide to date and has amassed more than 2.7 billion video views on YouTube, plus more than 41 million Facebook fans and more than 18 million Twitter followers. The Bieber phenomenon shows that emerging talent can now be sourced online, flattening the hierarchical structure and the barriers to entry.
Scooter Braun, Beiber’s longtime manager, found early success in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene, hosting major parties for celebrities like Britney Spears and Ludacris, and the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, all while still enrolled at Emory University. He scored his first big talent find in 2008, when he saw a young Canadian teen singer on YouTube. That young performer was Justin Bieber, who Scooter and R&B star Usher signed to their label Raymond-Braun Media Group. Scooter’s career skyrocketed from there, signing new talent Asher Roth, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Wanted and Cody Simpson to Scooter Braun Projects. Scooter’s accomplishments are unparalleled, accomplishing more than most entrepreneurs twice his age. For all his success, Scooter is committed to giving back and serves on the Advisory Board for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization founded by his brother Adam.
Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber was barely into his teens when he released his 2009 debut, My World, and became one of the youngest success stories in contemporary pop when it went either platinum or double platinum in several countries. For the next few years, successive releases — including remix compilations, acoustic sets, a documentary tie-in, a Christmas album, and even some proper studio recordings — shot forth at a dizzying rate. Bieber developed a massive global following, named Beliebers. During the early 2010s, his recording activity slowed, and he had more of a presence on celebrity gossip websites than on sales charts, but he rebounded during the middle of that decade. A native of Stratford, Ontario, Bieber placed second in a local 2007 singing competition and began posting his performances on YouTube. The videos caught the attention of Scooter Braun, a talent agent and former So So Def marketing executive, who helped Bieber land an impromptu audition with the R&B star Usher. Impressed by what he saw, Usher — along with Island/Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid — quickly signed the 15-year-old Bieber to a recording contract. Bieber released his first single, “One Time,” in May 2009. Supported by a popular video that featured an appearance by Usher, “One Time” went platinum in both Canada and America, a feat that was replicated later that year with the release of My World. In 2012, Bieber returned with the proper follow-up to My World 2.0, titled Believe, based in dance and R&B. In 2015, a remix of “Where Are You Now” and the single “What Do You Mean?,” topped that charts and paved the way for Purpose, his third proper studio album.