From the NY Times.
By JEFF LEEDS
Published: April 3, 2008
LOS ANGELES — In a move that reflects the anarchy sweeping the music business, the superstar rapper Jay-Z, who released his latest album to lukewarm sales five months ago, is on the verge of closing a deal with a concert promoter that rivals the biggest music contracts ever awarded.
Jay-Z plans to depart his longtime record label, Def Jam, for a roughly $150 million package with the concert giant Live Nation that includes financing for his own entertainment venture, in addition to recordings and tours for the next decade. The pact, expected to be finalized this week, is the most expansive deal yet from Live Nation, which has angled to compete directly with the industry’s established music labels in a scrum over the rights to distribute recordings, sell concert tickets, market merchandise and control other aspects of artists’ careers.
As CD sales plunge, an array of players — including record labels, promoters and advertisers — are racing to secure deals that cut them in on a larger share of an artist’s overall revenue. Live Nation has already struck less comprehensive pacts with Madonna and U2.
His first undertaking with Live Nation is his current 28-date tour with Mary J. Blige, his biggest live outing in more than three years. After that, Live Nation envisions integrating the marketing of all Jay-Z’s entertainment endeavors, including recordings, tours and endorsements.
“I’ve turned into the Rolling Stones of hip-hop,” Jay-Z said in a recent telephone interview.
The deal answers a question that had been circling through the rap world for months: Where would Jay-Z take his next corporate role? As part of the arrangement, Live Nation would finance the start-up of a venture that would be an umbrella for his outside projects, which are expected to include his own label, music publishing, and talent consulting and managing. Live Nation is expected to contribute $5 million a year in overhead for five years, with another $25 million available to finance Jay-Z’s acquisitions or investments, according to people in the music industry briefed on the agreement. The venture, to be called Roc Nation, will split profits with Live Nation.
The overall package for Jay-Z also includes an upfront payment of $25 million, a general advance of $25 million that includes fees for his current tour, and advance payment of $10 million an album for a minimum of three albums during the deal’s 10-year term, these people said. A series of other payments adding up to about $20 million is included in exchange for certain publishing, licensing and other rights. Jay-Z said Live Nation’s consolidated approach was in sync with the emerging potential “to reach the consumer in so many different ways right now.” He added: “Everyone’s trying to figure it out. I want to be on the front lines in that fight.”