HYBE Invests 1 Trillion Won, Yet… Ariana Grande Rumored to Part Ways, Speculations of Agency Split
On the 21st (local time), Billboard reported, “Ariana Grande has split from Scooter Braun.” Ariana Grande had been affiliated with SB Projects, a subsidiary of Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings, since 2013. There were also rumors of a breakup with SB Projects’ flagship star, Justin Bieber, but according to Billboard, representatives from both parties denied the claim, stating it was “not true.”
News of artists leaving Ithaca Holdings continues to surface. Earlier this year, reports circulated about Edina Menzel’s departure, and it was reported last month that Demi Lovato was seeking a new company. HYBE Entertainment has not yet provided a statement regarding the unsuccessful contract with Ariana Grande. However, on the 23rd, Scooter Braun tweeted on his old Twitter account, “Breaking news… I’m no longer managing myself,” accompanied by a light-hearted retort.
If Ariana Grande were to depart, HYBE’s 1 trillion won investment would seem to have been in vain. Even when HYBE acquired Ithaca Holdings, there were rumors that they paid more than three times the market value. It seems inevitable that criticisms of an unfruitful acquisition, unable to yield meaningful collaborations, will arise.
HYBE’s position on the matter of Ariana Grande’s contract remains undisclosed. Nevertheless, their ambition to secure global artist lineup synergy through the acquisition of Ithaca Holdings, securing a foundation for future growth, combining the artist pools of Ithaca Holdings and HYBE, achieving economies of scale, and expanding business by sharing intellectual properties, was evident. Yet, collaborations with anticipated HYBE artists have not yet materialized. Speculation circulated that they would join HYBE’s fan platform Weverse, but this never came to fruition. Only Justin Bieber participated in the 2022 Weverse concert via video call.
HYBE’s Chairman, Bang Si Hyuk, stated, “Becoming an undeniable presence in the U.S. music market is our primary goal,” and he revealed plans for various M&A strategies to expand the company’s scale. Following this strategy, Scooter Braun became the CEO of HYBE America in January, and as his first move, he acquired QC Media Holdings, home to famous hip-hop artists like Migos and Lil Baby, for 314 billion won.
While the company’s size has grown, it appears that its substance has not. The U.S. media outlet Variety analyzed, “What’s happening in Scooter Braun’s empire? Despite being the CEO of a company valued at 11 billion dollars, Scooter Braun has indirectly overseen his artists’ careers in the past few years. Even though Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande have had relatively limited activities in recent years, he might not have had time to oversee them as a CEO whose company is valued at 11 billion dollars.”