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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 became entrepeneurs.

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 well.

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 drinks commercial.

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 in several

It's enuf to make yer wanna be a.... rappa!


Steve Allen

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" http://www.marketingyourmusic.net

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All Rights Reserved - Steve Allen 2006

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