Jay-Z recently relaunched Tidal, a $US20-per-month music streaming service that some are saying could spell trouble for other streaming sites like Spotify.
The launch is just the latest in a string of business successes for the 45-year-old rapper, who also owns a record label, talent agency, and fashion brand. His net worth has been estimated to be more than $US500 million.
Jay-Z has found success by creating his own opportunities.
In doing so, he’s gone from being a teen selling drugs on a Brooklyn street corner to a bona fide business mogul.
Before he ever was a successful rapper or businessman, Jay-Z was Shawn Carter, a teen drug dealer on the streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. He has said drug dealing taught him how to budget, among other essential business skills. 'At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small,' he told Vanity Fair. 'You're going to get locked up or you're going to die.'
Jay-Z creates his own business opportunities. In the late '90s, he couldn't get a record deal, so he and Damon Dash started their own label, Roc-A-Fella Records. 'It was either give up or create my own company,' he told Forbes. He was later signed by Def Jam Records.
He keeps an incredibly diverse portfolio. His wide business interests include everything from a night club (40/40 Club), and liquor company (Armadale Vodka) to a talent agency (Roc Nation) and a partnership with Barneys New York.
Growing up in the housing projects of Brooklyn, Jay-Z's inspiration were professional athletes. 'They were our first heroes. They came from the same places we came from,' he told Men's Health magazine. 'These guys get paid millions of dollars to play the game they love.'
Now his Roc Nation Sports agency represents quite a few successful athletes, including Kevin Durant, Robinson Cano, Dez Bryant, and Skylar Diggins.
Jay-Z made his first foray into the fashion business in 1999, when he and business partner Damon Dash founded Rocawear. They later sold the urban fashion line to Iconix Brand Group for $204 million.
His image is just as important to his brand today, though now he rocks suits from high-end designers like Tom Ford.
In November 2014, he bought champagne company Armand de Brignac, which sells flashy bottles for $300 a piece.
He understands how to surround himself with mentors who make him better. 'There were a lot of things that I lived in the street that helped me in the music business,' Jay-Z said to Vanity Fair. 'I knew what characters not to have around me.'
He's even claimed to have texted with President Obama. 'I don't know if this is breaching national security,' Jay-Z told radio station Hot97 in 2013. 'But when he was getting elected the second time, he was like, 'Hey, you know, fourth quarter, just give me the ball.' I said, 'word.''
When Jay-Z launched Tidal, he counted a number of famous artists as stakeholders, including Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, deadmau5, Jason Aldean, J. Cole and Madonna.
'When you're in a business meeting with him, his demeanour is of a calm, studious business executive rather than an artist temporarily occupying an office chair,' Bernie Resnick, a lawyer who has worked with Jay-Z, told Men's Health. Here Jay-Z speaks with Nets primary owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Jay sold his minority stake in the basketball team in 2013.
Above all, there's an authenticity to Jay-Z's business dealings. 'All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I'm feeling at the time, whatever direction I'm heading in,' he told Men's Health. 'And hopefully, everyone follows.'
As he says in Kanye West's song, 'Diamonds from Sierra Leone,' 'I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!'
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