Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Street corner to Corner office :How Jay-z built a $ 450 million empire

Some people think Jay-Z is just another rapper. Others see him as just another celebrity/mega-star. The reality is, no matter what you think Jay-Z is, he first and foremost a business. And as much as Martha Stewart or Oprah, he has turned himself into a lifestyle.

You can wake up to the local radio station playing Jay-Z's latest hit, spritz yourself with his 9IX cologne, slip on a pair of his Rocawear jeans, lace up your Reebok S. Carter sneakers, catch a Nets basketball game in the afternoon, and grab dinner at The Spotted Pig before heading to an evening performance of the Jay-Z-backed Broadway musical Fela! and a nightcap at his 40/40 Club. He'll profit at every turn of your day.

Jay-Z grew up splitting his time between peddling cocaine and rapping in his native Brooklyn. But by the time hip hop had grown into a popular musical genre -- and a powerful economic force -- he had solidified his position as one of its pioneers.

Early on, Jay-Z displayed an acumen for business. In 1994, unable to find a company to produce his debut records, Jay-Z, Damon Dash and a silent partner founded their own label, Roc-A-Fella Records. And when a distributor agreed to take on the album, he negotiated a deal to retain ownership of the master recordings.

In the late 1990s, he discovered that sales of Iceberg apparel rose after he began including references to them in his songs. But when he went to Iceberg and asked for an endorsement deal, the company demurred. Instead, he started his own apparel company, Rocawear. In 2006, Rocawwear was sold to a brand licensing company for $204 million.

There's been much more: a line of sneakers for Reebok, the 40/40 nightclub chain, an ad for Hewlett-Packard, and an interest in the hot New York City gastro pub, The Spotted Pig.
Jay-Z's tale is compelling not just because of his celebrity, but because it embodies the rags-to-riches American dream and is a model for any entrepreneur looking to build a commercial

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