So last night the real winner of the AMAs was Scott “Scooter” Braun, the manager of the acts that took up the bulk of the show: Bieber, Jepsen, Psy. He also manages a boy band called The Wanted. Braun was recently profiled in The New Yorker by Lizzie Widdicombe. It’s a terrific piece about a 31 one year with limited education who is now buying mansions in the Hollywood Hills, $100,000 electric cars, and purchasing art in Beverly Hills dressed in flip flops and Mickey Mouse t shirts. (The “art” he buys is Mickey Mouse toys.) Here’s the link: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/03/120903fa_fact_widdicombe
It’s not hard to win the American Music Awards. They aren’t the Grammys. They’re kind of a promotional tool offered by Dick Clark Productions, same as the Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards. No one takes them seriously. And if an an act performs at the AMAs, they’re not allowed on the Grammys. So when you see someone on stage at the AMAs, as they were last night, you can surmise a couple of things: their new album came out too late to qualify for a Grammy (Taylor Swift) or they’re too shlocky to get a Grammy (Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy.)
Braun is the manager of the moment. He’s cornered the market on one-off top 40 phenoms with Jepsen (“Call Me Maybe”) and the Korean Psy (“Gangnam Style”). Will these people ever have another hit? For Jepsen it’s already questionable. For Psy, it’s likely he’ll be doing that one number at state fairs in two years. For Bieber, it’s unknown how long this can continue. His transition to adulthood is the X factor. He’s small and androgynous, he doesn’t really have a song anyone outside of the tween girl world can hum, and his records — like most records now– are not huge sellers. Braun has him on the road selling concert tickets, and has diversified into perfume and other gimmicks. But Justin Bieber in five years? Unless he has a Stevie Wonder moment planned–where he turns out to be a musical genius and starts producing amazing adult music–Bieber’s shelf life is not long.
But last night Braun literally won the AMAs. Maybe, as he’d like to think, he’s the next David Geffen. More power to him. The AMAs were a perfect venue for his “clique,” as he called them on Twitter. But they didn’t do a lot for his sales. On iTunes, where teens are an instant referendum, Bieber and Jepsen are pretty much nowhere and number 58 and 135 respectively. But “Gangam Style” is number 1. And Braun goes looking for his next novelty hit.