A great profile by Paul Resnikoff.

Get past the street-tough imagery and braggadocio, and 50 Cent is actually one of the most well-run, well-conceived business entities in music. And like Jay-Z, he also one of the most wealthy.

Spawned by Dr. Dre and Eminem and one the highest-selling rappers of all time, 50 Cent is actually less a rapper, and more a company. In fact, he is one of the most highly-successful examples of a 360-degree artist today, and a template for future artist business models.

In an earlier era, artists would shy away from advertising and sponsorship deals. A tie-in with a major company was usually viewed as a sellout, and often resulted in a major credibility hit. That has changed dramatically, though rappers were never haunted by that sellout demon.

Instead, the opposite is true – rappers are often unabashed capitalist warriors beating the system, and rapping about their exploits. And 50 Cent – who famously survived nine gunshots at close range – recently entered a monetary stratosphere that few enjoy.

Sure, 50 is a mega-platinum seller, and a staple of popular culture. But the rapper, and those orchestrating his career, are mostly focused on pursuing revenues through any channel, instead of simply maximizing record sales. And the moneymaking possibilities are only limited by the creativity of the entrepreneurs involved.

In fact, during the past twelve months, 50 Cent netted $150 million, according to a Forbes estimate. A major percentage of that payout came from an interesting deal with VitaminWater owner Glaceau, purchased by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion. 50, as part of a broader sponsorship deal, cashed Glaceau shares for an estimated $100 million after taxes.

That adds to an existing stable of other business divisions, including a G-Unit clothing line, a boutique recording label, and even a stab into gaming. “The financials of the music business have changed to the point that we have to find ways to make money in other places,” 50 Cent brand manager Barry Williams recently told Forbes. “I didn’t think six years ago when we started trying to sell music that we’d be selling VitaminWater and shoes and clothes. Now we’re moving into other directions, and four or five years from now, it’s exciting to think about us looking at natural resources and raw materials and other businesses.”

The natural resources discussion could potentially produce a 50-branded series of platinum jewels. The rapper is now entertaining a deal with South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, another creative exploitation of the 50 Cent image that goes way beyond a simple album release.

Of course, 50 Cent is unique entrepreneur and performer, and an extreme example of success. And every successful, 360-degree artist forges a unique business model, one that plays into the strengths of the artist and considers the target audience carefully. But in the modern music industry, the ultra-successful artist is one that successfully exploits a broad portfolio of revenue generators, and approaches the situation like a diversified business. That is the reality of the modern music industry, one that demands just as much business ingenuity as artist creativity.

More info from Forbes here.

Digital Music News.

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Comments

7 replies
  1. Darius says:

    Having all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily mean you have talent as a musician. 50 Cent is part of the old breed of artists, in the old industry. Superstars like this will not exist in the future because people simply do not care anymore to spend their hard earned dollars to fund a “get rich or die trying” project from some street thug. Props go out to him for making money out of this and living his dream but at the same time this shows us just how low our entertainment culture has stopped. This article has everything to do with business and absolutely nothing to do with music. This type of advice only works for rappers because most commercial rap is not music anymore as it used to be in the 80’s, it is simply garbage that is becoming more and more ignored. Real musicians with talent and something compelling to say do not need these kinds of artifices to sell their music.

  2. Hoover says:

    Great post,

    Darius, I just wanted to point out that this type of savvy business thinking is not limited to the rap world. Look at Blink 182. With the help of Rick DeVoe (their manager), they started Loserkids.com, Atticus Clothing, Macbeth Shoes, and probably others I’m not even aware of. Travis Barker (the drummer) used their fame to push Famous Stars and Straps (his clothing store and label), start his own record label, his own reality show, etc…

    It’s up to you how you want to capitalize AROUND your music.

    Cheers,

    Hoover

    The New Rockstar Philosophy

  3. Babatunde says:

    am so happy and happy for 50cent cause his the best ever musicial i love in my life and i wish him more money and prosperities..my drean is to see him and have a chance to touch him oneday and have his handshake…pls 50cent work more harder cause i want u to be the king of the hiphop for ever and ever…

  4. Andrew says:

    what really matters is what the artist thinks of their own exploits, how the fans feel about them, and how much either party cares about any existing dichotomies between their viewpoints, in any situation.

    most of 50’s fans say hey, i would do the same thing if i were him, pretty much

  5. brian says:

    50,DMX,Jay-Z, T-pain,and Busta Rhymes are the hottest rappers alive for 1 they are some of the realist and hard workin rappers in the game it would be lil wayne but he have people write his stuff….

  6. Erasmo Kanatzar says:

    Everyone loves to read other peoples success stories. It provides us with evidence that amazing things do happen to normal people. By learning what they did to succeed we come one step closer to success ourselves. Such is the case with the ten stories told in Net Entrepreneurs Only – 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young.:

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  1. […] Forbes interview with 50 Cent regarding the music business and how’s he taking on the future. Dave Kusek went into detail about the interview, but in a nutshell, 50 knows that he has to think of new ways […]

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