Written jointly by Edris Bemanian and Adi Gulati.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of you are familiar with the artist Jay-Z. You know – BET’s 2009 and 2010 Best Live Performer of the Year, the Grammy’s 2010 Best Rap Solo Performance winner, etc. There is no denying that this man has revolutionized the music industry and if you disagree with me you can take it up with the decision-makers of Billboard Magazine who, in 2009, ranked him as the 10th most successful artist of the decade and the 4th best rapper. To date, he has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide! Imagine the kind of dough he rakes in each year.
But it’s important to remember that “Jay-Z” is so much more so a brand than it is a name. In fact, the illustrious Shawn Carter goes by many nicknames, including: Jazzy, Icerberg Slim, Joe Camel, Jigga and on and on, though it’s no secret which one stuck. More impressive than even his accomplishments as a rapper are those he has made as a businessman.
Jay-Z wears many different hats depending on what he’s doing that day, from his hip hop mogul self (who’s currently on tour and will be performing in Melbourne, Australia tomorrow), to being a loving husband (check out the lucky bastard’s wife), to his current position as CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records.
After numerous successes as a direct player in the industry, Jay-Z shifted his focus to the business aspect and became president of Def Jam Recordings. During his time there, he signed Rihanna, Ne-Yo, and Young Jeezy. After resigning from this post, he signed a deal with Live Nation—a concert promotion company—which provided funding for Roc Nation, Carter’s music development and endorsement company, allowing him to fund for his music and investment projects.
Furthermore, Jay-Z co-founded Rocawear, an urban-style clothing apparel line, and then bought out his co-founder’s shares for 30 million dollars in 2005. Jay-Z then utilized his reputation to bring as much attention to the line as he could to reach extremely high sales levels. He grew the company to the point where achieved more than $700 million in retail sales annually before it was acquired by Iconix for approximately $204 million.
Jay-Z decided to also try his hand in the club and entertainment industry which resulted in his starting the 40/40 Club in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and New York City. But few, even the most successful of entrepreneurs, aren’t without their failures. A measly eight months after the Vegas club’s 2008 opening, Jay-Z had to make the decision to cut his losses and exit. The official 40/40 website, however, has tentative dates for their Chicago, Dallas, Tokyo, and Macau club sites.
“I love sports and wanted to create an environment that is conducive to my lifestyle, while being able to watch the games at the same time,” says Jay-Z on his website. Incidentally, Jay-Z paid $4.5 million to gain a minor stake in the New Jersey Nets, though their recent 2009-1010 performance dropped their value by 9% according to Forbes. But I guess we can’t exactly blame Jay-Z for that.
In an interview, Jay-Z disclosed how one of the most meaningful investments to Carter will always be his TriBeCa penthouse, where he married Beyonce. He invested $6.85 million in 2004 for his 8,000 square foot home. I wonder whether he has trouble deciding which is easier on the eyes, his house or his wife?
Jay-Z’s firm, Gain Global Investments Network, LLC invested in an events promotion company Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) which tried to settle a deal with New York State officials to open up the only gambling site in New York – a race track and casino. Due to the ethical difficulties involved in this deal, Jay-Z lost a decent chunk of money when the deal failed to pull through. He owns a 28.6 percent stake in AEG.
Jay-Z was not immune from the effects of the recession. He was forced to walk away from a project to develop a luxury J Hotel in New York City. His company borrowed $52 million for the project, but Carter dropped it all and ended up suing Highland Capital—the lender—for delaying the closing of the loan in order to continue receiving interest payments on the principal. Jay-Z sued for over $3.7 million but ultimately suffered a net loss.
Despite these setbacks, Jay-Z remains on top of the world with his approximated net worth of $1 billion, his numerous endorsements, his records of which over fifteen have gone platinum, his ownership stakes in the New Jersey Nets, the Arsenal Football Club, his nightclubs, and Def Jam Records, and his numerous other endeavors. Oh, and I almost forgot! Throw Beyonce into the mix and we get to watch his worth shoot up another $400 million. Why you muggin, Jazzy?
To learn more about Jay-Z, you should check out his recently released book titled, Decoded, though you should know the book is more so an insight into his songs and the contexts behind them rather than his business moves.
And this article should drive my point home.
For more on Adi Gulati, visit the Contributors page of the blog.