Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

For the managers of pop stars, is there strength in numbers? That is the idea behind a new $120 million venture by Scooter Braun, the manager of hit acts like Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and PSY.

In a deal that has kept the music industry guessing for months, Braun is assembling a coalition of managers and musicians and raising an investment fund intended to strengthen their position in the changing music industry, according to several people with direct knowledge of the plan.

Braun is in advanced talks with a number of potential partners, including singer and rapper Drake, along with his managers; Jason Owen, who represents Shania Twain and the country band Little Big Town; and Troy Carter, who until recently managed Lady Gaga, according to these people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

A spokesman for Braun declined to comment Sunday.

Board members of Braun’s venture — whose name was not known — include Thomas Tull, the Hollywood producer, and David Politis, founder of the technology company BetterCloud. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG, is said to be acting as an informal adviser on the project.

The majority of the $120 million raised so far is from funds managed by Waddell & Reed Financial, an investment management company based in Overland Park, Kan. The venture has commitments for financing that could bring the total to about $200 million.

Last year, Waddell & Reed invested $443 million in Tull’s company, Legendary Entertainment, whose films include “300” and “The Dark Knight.”

If successful, the alliance could significantly raise the profile of Braun, who at 32 has already established himself as a sharp talent hunter with a keen command of social media. His company, SB Projects, also encompasses a record label, Schoolboy, as well as divisions for film, television, music publishing and technology investment.

His new venture is expected to pool the resources of its members and backers to invest in technology companies, publishing and other assets that historically have been outside the realm of managers. The structure of the coalition is expected to be somewhat loose, with those involved remaining relatively autonomous; most of the deals are said to cover only 50 percent of the managers’ businesses.

With the balance of power in the music industry shifting away from record companies, the role of managers and other artist representatives has been evolving. Recently, Irving Azoff, a longtime manager and the former executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, announced a deal with the Madison Square Garden Co. for a multifaceted music company. Lyor Cohen, a former top executive at the Warner Music Group, also recently announced a small content management firm.

Of the partners Braun has recruited, a question remains about the involvement of Carter. Lady Gaga — by far Carter’s most successful client — is said to have recently dismissed him, which would most likely diminish the value of his company. But Carter has reportedly remained involved in the marketing of Lady Gaga’s new album, “Artpop,” and it is unclear whether a separation agreement between the two has been fully negotiated.

Despite this uncertainty, talks between Braun and Carter about the venture are said to have continued.