I Wanna Be a... Rapper!
It's no secret that the music industry has
taken a hard hit with record sales over
recent years, with file swapping on the
internet and MP3's. One of the hardest hit
niches in the industry has been hip hop, or
rap music as it is sometimes called. Sales
plummeted 44% since 2000 and accounts for
10% in total music sales.
Although the outlook was bleak for the
majority, the grass kept very green for
those who went beyond their "craft" and
According to Forbes magazine, the top
earners in the hip hop brigade were not
those who only produced albums and went on
concert tours; they were directors of big
business which was wagered on the entire hip
hop and pop culture. These mega
personalities endorsed anything and
everything, tennis shoes, mineral water,
clothing, perfumes etc.
It got to the stage where the name of the
personality became the product brand itself.
So who are these top earners?
Currently the top slot goes to Shawn Carter,
CEO of Def Jam
Recordings, known to Joe Public as Jay-Z.
Last year, in 2006, his 11th album "Kingdom
Come" sold 680,000 copies in it's first week
of being released reaching the top notch in
the US Billboard Chart.
Just that feat would make you think of
complete success, but we're talking about
rich people here, not just artists "wiv a
message, check it out".
The sales figures of his album only scratch
the surface of his fortune. In March of this
year Jay-Z earned a whopping $204 million in
sale of his exclusive brand of clothes 'Rocawear'
to the Iconix Brand Group. He still controls
the marketing, licensing and product
development of the label and over the next
five years will put another $35 million
annually into his pocket if the brand sells
The businessman / (part time) rapper also
has a joint venture being co-owner of the
40/40 Club franchise, a sports bar for the
upper middle class as well as having a piece
of the action in the New Jersey Nets
basketball team. In October 2006, he was
nominated co-brand director of 'Budweiser
Select' after his single was featured in a
Also as previously stated in a previous
article of mine, he earns around $13 million
a year for the distribution of the vodka
Armadale. His income for 2006 was estimated
at around $34 million. In 2007 his estimated
wealth ammounted to $547 million.
Sean Combs, now known simply as Diddy after
several name changes, is running in second
place in the wealthiest hip hop entertainer
stakes (although Forbes put him back to
third in their list) in 2006. He is worth a
staggering $358 million. Combs is magnate of
an empire made up from Bad Boy Records, the
Sean John clothing line, Unforgivable
cologne, and two restaurants called Justin's.
We couldn't leave 50 Cent out of the frey.
He's worth a paltry (if the others are to go
by) estimated $200 million. His G-Unit
includes a clothing company, a sneakers
brand and video games.
He also had a 10% stake of Glaceau, a drinks
line. When Coca Cola bought the brand for
$4.1 billion, it's beleived that 50 Cent got
an awful lot more than his name suggests
($100 million, before taxes). The rapper is
also owner of a condom line and has a stake
It's enuf to make yer wanna be a.... rappa!
Steve Allen is consultant and music
producer. Author of "Marketing Your Music –
Success Strategies", "Personal Management in
the Music Industry" and "Street Teams –
Expand your Fan Base"
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