Concert promoter Live Nation is about to make its third $100 million-plus deal to lock up a pop star, the NYT reports. The first was for a “concerts plus albums” deal for Madonna, the second for a more conventional “concerts plus website” deal with U2. Now Live Nation (LYV) has committed to lay out up to $150 million for Jay-Z. What do they get, and are they getting their money’s worth?
The deal, per the Times:
$25M: Overhead for 5 years
$25M: “Available to finance Jay-Z’s acquisitions or investments”
$25M: Upfront fee
$25M: Advance for current tour
$30M: $10M per album advance for 3 albums over 10 years
$20M: “Certain publishing, licensing and other rights”
Without more details about the terms, hard to make anything close to fair assessment of the deal. That said, this seems like an awfully high premium for a 38-year-old hip-hop star.
Based on the Times’ maths, it looks like a third of the $150 million goes straight into Jay-Z’s pocket, or those of his associates (overhead + upfront fee). Basically, Live Nation is paying a $50 million premium for the right to spend another $100 million on Jay-Z, Inc.
Of the remaining $100 million, $45 million looks like a reasonable bet: Jay-Z can probably throw off $2 million a year in publishing and licensing for Live Nation over 10 years. And we’ll assume Live Nation knows what it’s doing re: Jay-Z’s concert deal, and can recoup the $25 million payment for that.
The remainder looks funky to us: $30 million for 3 albums will be tough to earn back, given that Jay’s last effort underwhelmed and hip-hop fans tend to favour youngsters, not dudes who can remember the Ford presidency (this assumes Universal Music Group holds on to the rights to his old tunes, and he can only offer Live Nation new Jay-Z tunes). The $25 million for investments, etc., is a total wild card, given that we don’t know the terms: Does Live Nation get a 25% stake in Jay’s clothing lines, night clubs, etc? 50%? And how are they going to perform over a decade? Who knows?
So we’ll conclude with a shoulder shrug here. We’re sceptical that Live Nation, which is a low-margin business to begin with, will be able to make money on this one. But who knows? Maybe the company will clear up the murkiness with a clear and transparent discussion of its pact, and reassure investors that they know what they’re doing. Or maybe not, and LYV will continue the slide that began last fall, when it started doing these headline-grabbing, investor-confusing deals.
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