Kanye West says he's in $53 million of debt -- here's why that isn't a big deal

Kanye westChristopher Polk/GettyKanye’s Yeezus tour was the second-highest grossing of 2013, at $25 million.

Kanye West recently announced that he is $53 million in personal debt.

For the normal person, that’s a highly alarming amount — for Kanye, who has tremendous earning power, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, the rapper should be in even more debt, says Fred Schebesta, CEO of personal finance comparison and education site Finder.com. He should be investing all that he can in his brand — up to five times that $53 million, Schebesta tells Business Insider — to ensure its longevity.

“Kanye is a massive business,” the CEO explains. “Other businesses have a lot more than $53 million of debt — and Kanye’s reach and impact on the global stage as an entertainer is just as big, if not bigger, than some of the major brands around the world.”

To give you an idea of his incredible reach, Kanye has 20 million Twitter followers. “Some companies would pay $53 million for that!” explains Schebesta.

And it only took one tweet to propel his music streaming service and app, Tidal, to the number one spot on the US App Store. “Who doesn’t want to partner with someone with that kind of market power and that kind of brand?” says Schebesta. “The attention that he commands — that’s what is worth so much.”

With Kanye’s serious earning capacity, it shouldn’t take long to pay off the $53 million. “I can’t see why he can’t pay that back in 12 months time,” says Schebesta. “He could pay it off with one movie or one big endorsement contract.”

At Slate, Jordan Weissman writes that since West earns an estimated $22 million to $30 million a year, “For Kanye, $53 million in debt is basically equivalent to the median American household, which earns $53,000 a year, carrying $127,000 in debt — or, you know, a mortgage.”

Why then, would Kanye publicize these financial problems that may not be too problematic after all?

At Vanity Fair, Emily Jane Fox writes:

In some regard, West’s tweets may simply have been an elaborate and modern version of a pitch deck in search of that true marker of early 21st century creative genius: Series A funding. Indeed, he publicly solicited the help of Mark Zuckerberg, whom he asked for $1 billion to keep making art. He also said he would be willing to accept money from Google’s Larry Page. Any other hedge-funder or bigwig with pennies to spare would do, too. These guys, after all, know that $53 million is a small price tag for a moonshot.

“It could be a marketing stunt to build his brand even more,” suggests Schebesta. “He’s basically martyring himself in order to get even more attention, which is genius.”

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