In our huge cover feature, manager Scooter Braun, Michael Alexander (EVP, international for Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Republic Records) and Louis Bloom (president, Island UK) talk about how she has ripped up the rulebook for modern popstars.
Ten months on from Grande releasing her smash surprise single Thank U, Next despite her then-new album Sweetener only being out for three months, Braun told Music Week about how, as a manager, he juggled the transition of focus. February’s Thank U, Next album, he said, did not take away any focus from 2018's Sweetener.
“If you look at our tour, it’s called the Sweetener Tour – we already had the tour up and added the songs from Thank U, Next into it," Braun told Music Week. "To me, it’s not abandoning one or the other, they’re both a part of the narrative of what’s taking place over the last year and now Boyfriend is being added to that narrative. It’s not like you’re abandoning your responsibilities or any chapters of your life from January because things changed in March. What we’re doing is looking at this very simply as Ariana telling her life through music on a consistent basis.”
There’s so many times where Ariana doesn’t think she has the strength to get through what she’s going through, and every single time she’s able to overcome and achieve really, really great things
Braun went on to say that he has found Grande's change to releasing songs whenever she wants every bit as liberating as a manager.
“It’s really, really exciting to watch,” he explained. “I don’t have to tell my artists anymore, ‘You need to stop.’ You might say, ‘Hey, we need to give something air and room to breathe,’ but I don’t need to tell them to stop being creative. When we saw the change taking place with streaming services, we decided to take advantage of it and Ariana’s really, really tapped into something and it’s remarkable. Her consistency is just absolutely amazing.”
In the feature, Braun also isolated the thing he admires most about Grande, reflecting, in part, on the way she handled the Manchester bombing attack.
“Her strength,” he told Music Week. “There’s so many times where Ariana doesn’t think she has the strength to get through what she’s going through, and every single time she’s able to overcome and have the strength to achieve really, really great things. I don’t want to speak about it for too long, but ever since Manchester, I’ll say aloud to anyone that Ariana Grande, for the rest of my life, will be a hero in my eyes. What I saw her do there… The position she was put in was not fair, but she saw her responsibility. She said, ‘Look, as unfair as this is, there are families that don’t have loved ones coming home tonight – and I have to do something’. Ever since that concert, her bravery as a public figure to step up in that moment and take back the narrative for that community with that community... She’s a hero to me. And so is the entire city of Manchester.”
Subscribers can read the full Ariana Grande cover story here.