We’re Beliebers: How Scooter Braun Is Breaking Gender Barriers In The Music Industry.

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You probably know him best as the guy who discovered Justin Bieber and turned him into the global phenomenon he is today. Aside from the Biebs, manager Scooter Braun also looks after another Canadian Carly Rae Jepson, Korean viral hit-maker Psy, British boy band The Wanted, and pop music’s latest feminist hero Ariana Grande. He also owns his own record label School Boy Records, as well as looking after some of the music industry’s biggest names under his artist management company SB Projects.

Scooter, real name Scott Samuel, is more than just another guy tearing up the music charts with his best-selling acts. Just like many other industries around the world today, music is very male dominated behind the scenes. It’s rare to find female label owners, female artist management company heads etc. When you read about how some of the biggest and most iconic names in the biz throughout history were discovered, undoubtedly it was a man who did the discovery. Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson. The list goes on and on, filled with notable men.

But what about the women? Sure there have been incredible record-setting and history making women performing on stage throughout history and even today (Madonna, Beyonce, Mariah Carey etc) but just like in the film industry where there is a movement to encourage more women to take positions of leadership behind the scenes in order to diversify the representations of women on screen, the same needs to happen in music.

In 2014 Fader magazine published an insightful piece about the low number of female music producers, compared to the males, some of which are celebrities and hit-makers in their own right (think Dr. Dre). Women only make up 5% of music producers but that is slowly changing with a handful of women being mentored by some big names (Jay-Z) and working with some major artists in order to get their names alongside the likes of Red One, Zedd etc.

Just like we need to see an increase in female producers on the creative side of the biz, we need more females evening out the gender ratio on the business and executive side. A 2009 report showed that 66% of people working in the music industry are male, and 77% are promoters and managers. The Guardian did a feature on some of the top women working in the music industry in 2013 and one of the gals featured was Adrienne Aiken, currently the ONLY female member of the music producers guild.

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Although it seems as if the women have a lot of catching up to do, it is going to take a conscious joint effort from both women and their male counterparts to be aware of how changing the ratio is both possible and important. This is why what Scooter Braun is doing within SB Projects is incredibly awesome.

Refinery29 published a feature on the women who are working for arguably one of the music industry’s biggest music managers in the world today, and talked about how he is one of the people changing the score by having women make up more than 50% of his team. Yep, beliebe it people!

“The women of SB Projects are capable, intelligent, and passionate businesswomen. They are our successes and our dreams achieved,” said Scooter, who was voted one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013.

Refinery29 put the spotlight on 10 of the awesome women who work for him, sharing interesting stories of how they came to be part of the SB Projects fam (one started a Justin Bieber fan twitter account and after catching the attention of Scooter was poached to work for him) and asking them their views on what it’s like to be a woman in a mostly-male business.

Jackie Augustus, the girl who started out as a super fan of the Biebs and is now the Associate Marketing Manager for the Digital department says it is a welcome challenge to be a woman in music.

“Most of the heads/execs of labels and management companies in entertainment today are males, but there are seemingly more women joining the ranks daily. I’d like to be one of many to help change the stigma and prove that a female can still be successful in an industry currently led by males… Also, shout out to all of the women at SB Projects for crushing life and being role models to me as head females in the industry,” she said.

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Jessica Severn is the lead designer at the company and says her best advice to a woman aspiring to be part of the biz is to be unapologetically yourself. This is great advice considering a couple of decades ago the only way for women to make it alongside men in the corporate world was to act like them. There seems to be more of an acceptance for female attributes in the workforce these days.

“I don’t know what trials you’re going to face because of your gender, but one of the only ways to succeed for yourself, and perhaps be a part of breaking down the existing stigmas about women in entertainment, is to be wholly, uncompromisingly you. Believe in your inherent worth, and use that belief to kick infinite ass,” said Jessica.

Chelsea Avery works in A&R and Producer management, an area sorely lacking in female presence industry-wide.

“As much as I would like to say it’s no different than being a man in the music industry, that’s just not true. It’s tough, but I feel like it is changing. It’s a great feeling being a part of that change and the new generation of females making strides in this industry,” she said.

“Sadly, strong women will be told they’re blunt, loud, bossy, and mean, among other things. Take these as compliments; it means you’re doing something right,” she added.

When you read through each of the 10 women’s profiles, one of the most consistent things mentioned is mentorship and support. These women either benefited from being mentored or say that it is a valuable thing to invest in in order to increase the presence of women in music.

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Penni Thow who is the Senior VP is one of these women at SB Projects.

“I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible female mentors and friends who have taught me how to move in the world. I consider myself very lucky to have started in entertainment, working with a talent agency founded and run by women, all of whom I still admire today. Following that, I was the only woman in a male-run company and was treated with the utmost respect: my opinions valued and my voice heard. I’m now grateful to work for yet another company that has badass women operating at every level. It’s incredible to work in a space where anyone can make their own opportunity, rather than ask permission for it,” she said.

So why is it important to shine the spotlight on women who are the face of the changing music industry? Because when news such as country radio DJ Keith Hill’s comments about female country artists needing to be taken off the air in order for ratings to increase, it shows there is a major problem. Unfortunately news like this dominates headlines and goes viral, making many people angry.

Rather than contribute to negative messages like this (hello we all know women are still at a disadvantage compared to men in the biz, that ain’t news Keith!!) it’s important to give women a reason to want to be part of the change. Thank you Refinery29 for sharing this feature, and thank you Scooter Braun for being part of the gender inequality solution rather than trying to be a one hit viral wonder.

Oh and we should mention his wife is the incredible Yael Cohen who created the F**k Cancer movement (pictured with him above) so clearly Scooter is familiar with badass feminist women!

Take a look at Complex magazine’s behind the scenes video of SB Projects:

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