Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter), is one of the most successful artists in hip hop history and was one of the first artists from the genre to achieve billionaire status. However, his success was not the result of luck, it was calculated, and there were moves the New York rapper made that shot him straight to the top.
In 2015, Carter bought the technology company Aspiro and its subsidiary streaming company Tidal. A $56.2 million investment from the rapper, Tidal was to become a new artist-owned streaming platform with exclusive content not available anywhere else.
Carter’s venture was supported by artists such as Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and others, who all became shareholders. However, the streaming service did not take off how the rapper thought it would, despite all of the exclusive content it provided. Consequentially, in 2019 Carter penned a multi-million dollar deal with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
In October 2019, the rapper sold his majority ownership stake in the streaming company to the Dorsey-owned company Square for a whopping $297 million in cash and stock, with the rest of the artists to remain shareholders. Carter even joined Dorsey’s board of directors. In a statement made by the Brooklyn-born businessman, Carter proclaimed, “Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey. Jack and I have had many discussions about TIDAL’s endless possibilities that have made me even more inspired about its future.”
Despite Tidal’s standing as a reputable streaming service, the company has had its fair share of criticism, with some considering it too expensive. Furthermore, there have also been accusations of inflated streaming numbers. However, this has not stopped the company from progressing.
Aside from this genius move, Carter has made many other slick business deals. When reflecting on his career beginnings at the 2010 Forbes 400 summit, Carter told attendees that “In the beginning, we went to every single label and every single label shut their door on us” in reference to himself and business partner Dame Dash, continuing to say “The genius thing that we did was we didn’t give up. We used that ‘what do they know’ approach. We didn’t give up at that point”. The rapper went on to detail how Roc-A-Fella was founded in 1994 and how it went on to be bought by Def Jam in 2004 for around $10 million.
The rapper launched a Cognac brand, D’Ussé, in partnership with Bacardi in the mid-2000s and in 2014, the artist purchased the champagne brand Armand De Brignac (commonly known as Ace of Spades) from the Cattier family.
With all these business deals under his belt, Carter is undeniably a self-made tycoon and has made a multitude of genius moves and is bound to make more.
Below you can watch the 2015 Tidal launch signing.