16 | SINGER
29 | FOUNDER, SB MANAGEMENT
There's no cure for Bieber Fever, but at least Patient Zero has been identified. "My gut went crazy," Scooter Braun says of the first time he saw a 13-year-old Justin Bieber on YouTube belting out Aretha Franklin's "Respect." "I didn't leave the house for two days. I called the Ontario school boards to hunt him down." The dogged pursuit of pop music's next big thing isn't particularly noteworthy—Braun himself discovered white-boy rapper Asher Roth on MySpace and made him a sensation on campuses across the country—but the flouting of nearly every seemingly immutable convention of teen-idol manufacture and assembly is. "Charlie Walk, the former head of Epic Records, loved Bieber but said he couldn't sign him," Braun says. "He said, 'Without TV, there's no platform. There's no way to break a teen act without a show on Disney Channel.'" Undeterred, Braun set out to boost Bieber's Web presence virally—ramping up the number of videos and suggesting bold songs to cover, like Chris Brown's "With You." After Bieber amassed 55 million hits on YouTube, Braun enlisted Usher, who brokered an audition with Island Def Jam's L.A. Reid. One platinum album, 1.5 million copies sold, and a newly announced movie deal (a 3D Bieber biopic) later, the man who shattered the myth that all pop stars are born with mouse ears is taking on a new challenge: searching for the next dangerously infectious female singer. "I haven't found her yet," Braun says, "but I have a concept. I'll do it."