Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Label Announces Global Partnership with Universal Music

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter

Jay-Z has released more No. 1 albums in his career than any other solo artist– eleven, to be exact. He hasn’t released a new record yet this year, but he’s been very active on the business front. Recent announcements include a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell, a summer tour with Justin Timberlake and the launch of Roc Nation Sports, with Robinson Cano as its first client.

Today, the hit parade continues. Universal Music Group announced a global partnership with Roc Nation, the label Jay-Z founded in 2008 as part of a $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation. The world’s largest record company lured the hip-hop mogul away from Sony Music, which had been distributing Roc Nation’s releases previously.

“This agreement presents a unique opportunity for Roc Nation’s artists—being able to continue to operate as an independent label with the strength, power and reach of the best major,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “I look forward to a long and prosperous collaboration with UMG.”

Perhaps most interestingly from a FORBES perspective, the deal means that all five of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists–Diddy, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Birdman and 50 Cent–and ten of last year’s top earners are now all on labels within the Universal umbrella.

The agreement also marks a return for Jay-Z, who left his position as president of Universal’s Def Jam Records to start Roc Nation five years ago.

Since then, he’s built his company into a legitimate counterweight to Birdman’s Universal-distributed Cash Money Records and Def Jam itself, which bought into Jay-Z’s original Roc-A-Fella Records over 15 years ago.

That symbolism isn’t lost on Jay-Z, who summed up his sentiments in a statement: “It feels good to be home.”

article by Zack O’Malley Greenburg via forbes.com

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