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In appreciation of Jay-Z

Written by Jackie Fast on Friday, 24 September 2021. Posted in Insight, Leadership, Analysis, People

Entrepreneur Jackie Fast examines the business acumen of an American rap icon and says his talents spread far beyond his music.

In appreciation of Jay-Z

Entrepreneur Jackie Fast examines the business acumen of an American rap icon and says his talents spread far beyond his music.

The rapper who used to sell crack cocaine as a high school dropout is now widely regarded as a successful entrepreneur. He has a business empire which spans clothing, beverages, real estate, sports teams, and record labels. However, despite how it may appear from the outside, it certainly hasn’t been an overnight success.

Propelled by the immediacy of social media, most people – celebrities included – assumed that Jay-Z’s rise to business fortune was simply a knock-on effect from being an illustrious rap artist. They calculated incorrectly that being famous must have made him successful in business too. Simply not true. Just being famous won’t necessarily mean you’ll have success in other ventures.

With all of Jay-Z’s business accomplishments, he has had to work exceptionally hard, and it has taken time to reap those rewards. Many people forget that his first business Rocawear was launched 22 years ago. At its peak, in 2007, Rocawear’s annual sales reached $700m.

Jay-Z subsequently sold this business for $204m cash, which was used to fund the start-up of Roc Nation in 2008. Even then, despite all of his contacts, Roc Nation didn’t sign their first artist until the following year. More than a decade later, RocNation’s annual revenues are $90m – not huge when compared to some musical outlets – but they are arguably one of the most influential entertainment companies in the United States.

Just because you have a million followers on Twitter or Instagram, or have landed a leading role in some likely blockbuster movie, it doesn’t automatically follow that you have the skillset to run a successful business. You may not have either the appetite or the aptitude to run any sort of business. Neither does it follow that just because you stick an image of Jay-Z on a product, then that particular product will sell millions during the next 24 hours or even 12 months.

Jay-Z has experienced failure too, much of which has remained out of the newspapers.

He was once sued by Parlux Fragrances because his product failed to reach projected sales targets. Parlux Fragrances filed a lawsuit in 2016 because he allegedly failed to promote his scent Gold Jay Z.

He also lost a licensing deal with Jeep following a change of management personnel at the automotive company which saw no value in the partnership. Just being a celebrity or a beautiful person – with a huge online following – does not necessarily convert to cash. However, if treated as an asset to a brand and managed correctly, it should create opportunity. And then it’s up to you to decide how best to make that opportunity count.

About the Author

Jackie Fast

Jackie Fast

Jackie Fast is an award-winning leading entrepreneur, investor, public speaker, former The Apprentice contestant, Managing Director of Sandbox Studios, and author of new book Rule Breaker: Rebellious Leadership of the Future of Work.

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