With Justin Bieber gearing up for his next release, he’s doing it with a new, expanded team around him.
The artist, who has spent his entire career at the Universal Music Group, has been on the Def Jam roster since the label returned to standalone status in 2014 following the breakup of the Island Def Jam Music Group. But now, he’s building out a super team chosen from a mix of Def Jam and UMG executives, including some from Republic Records, to work on his next release, which began rolling out today with his new single “Honest” featuring Don Toliver under the umbrella of Def Jam/Universal Records.
Bieber’s team comprises some of the executives who he has worked with at Def Jam for years, including head of publicity Gabe Tesoriero, as well as new Def Jam CEO Tunji Balogun. Others include Republic Records promotions staffers and additional executives from UMG’s team in The Center, the collection of labels, executives, divisions and partnerships that works within the core of UMG, rather than solely with any of its affiliated labels, and generally report to UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge. Many shared services that labels across the UMG spectrum take advantage of sit within The Center, including global data and consumer research teams, so it’s not uncommon for a specific label to benefit from those resources, sources say. And Universal Records — which was in the past a part of the Universal Motown Republic Group, before being folded into Republic — is, according to sources, a distribution wing of The Center under which all parties are working together on this release.
Bieber will remain a Def Jam recording artist — label groups often resist acts shifting from one label to another within a music group umbrella, due to upfront investments labels make when signing new artists — and sources suggest that the market share for the release would remain with Def Jam. Republic is set to be in the mix on radio promotion, sources say, and Def Jam could be involved with promotion at different radio formats. The realignment is being driven by Bieber’s management team of Scooter Braun and Allison Kaye at SB Projects, who have been working with Bieber for years and are leading the creative on the project.
Republic has been expanding its services of late; in 2021 it launched a distribution wing, Imperial Records, which saw success with Bo Burnham’s Inside (The Songs) album, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 last summer, and also recently relaunched Mercury Records with A&R execs Tyler Arnold and Ben Adelson in charge.
Bieber signed to the Island Def Jam Music Group as a teenage YouTube phenom in 2008, continued with Def Jam when that label group was dissolved in 2014, and has scored eight No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart over the course of his career. His most recent chart-topping Def Jam full-length, Justice, was released last March.
Another major Braun client, Ariana Grande, has been signed to Republic through the entirety of her adult music career and has notched five No. 1 albums. Andrew Watt, the songwriter-producer who co-wrote Bieber’s No. 1 hit “Peaches,” is another Braun client who is signed to Republic, and has worked extensively with artists like Post Malone and Eddie Vedder on the Republic roster.
Additional reporting by Jason Lipshutz