I call it a bargain
Never let it be said that these TIs don't know how to take care of their own. They gave their nephew Drake the best record deal evar. Or did they?
Details on Drake's deal, courtesy of a story in the LA Times the other day:
Under the unusually lucrative agreement he struck with Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money Records distributed through Universal, Drake received a $2-million advance. He retains the publishing rights to his songs and cedes only around 25% of his music sales revenues to the label as a "distribution fee," his managers said.
Keep in mind, this is in an age when most artists are being forced to sign over everything other than the right for Edgar Bronfman to come over to your house and have sex with your little sister. Some of these poor bastards are being forced to act in Mountain Dew commercials. Even Jay-Z has to turn over the money he makes from touring to Live Nation. How in the fuck did Drake get such a sweet deal?
Of course the difference between Drake's deal and Jay-Z's deal with Live Nation is that Jay-Z received something ridonkulous like a hundred million dollars upfront, while Drake only got two milli. But it's not like the TIs just gave Jay-Z $100 million out of the kindness of their hearts, even after all that he's done for them over the years, and his overall level of obedience. If he just has to pay it back anyway, it's not like they really gave him $100 million. He pretty much got the record deal equivalent of rent to own furniture. But is Drake's deal really any better?
I was reading an interview the other day with Combat Jack in which he explained that the good thing about an advance from a major label, back in the day, was that you didn't really have to pay it back, if your career never took off. They'd give you half a million dollars, for which you had to recoup, but if you only ever did Little Brother numbers, it's not like there's any way you could pay them back, even if you wanted to.
Edgar Bronfman wouldn't actually show up to your house and try to have sex with your little sister, even though he does have a thing for black chicks. I'm sure he already had much better-looking women to bang. Nah, they'd just write that off as a loss. The game is all fucked up now, because the labels aren't flush with money with which to give out huge advances. You might not even get enough money to cop one of these big gaudy-looking Chryslers you see so many clowns riding around in.
I doubt there's any way Jay-Z can get out of paying Live Nation back $100 million, if he can't make that much money for them from touring and what have you. Everyone knows good and well he's got enough money in the bank to where he could just write them a check for that amount, if necessary. There might even be a clause in his contract saying he has to. I'm actually less concerned with whether or not he can pay that back than what he has to pay them on top of that. Obviously they wouldn't just give him a deal in which he gets to bogart any and all profits beyond their initial investment. In fact, it could be the opposite. If Jay-Z makes $500 million for Live Nation, he might only be entitled to that same $100 million.
Similarly, something tells me Universal is planning on getting their $2 million back from Drake in short order. They don't expect him to be the equivalent of one of these guys back in the '90s who got half a million dollars from a label and spent it all on crack, like G-Dep, and now Diddy is just out half a million dollars (as if he'd even notice). Otherwise, they'd have him on the hook for all kinds: his publishing, acting in Mountain Dew commercials. They might even seriously consider sending someone over to his house to have sex with his female relatives. Edgar Bronfman is from Canada anyway. That's just a short train ride.
If Drake's Thank Me Later, or whatever it's gonna be called, sells as well as the hype surrounding him would have you think, he won't have any problem recouping. The story in the LA Times mostly deals with how Drake's brilliant managers got him such a sweet deal. These guys Hip Hop Since 1978 - whose only real genius, as far as I can tell, lies in the fact that they're somehow related to Jay-Z - were involved with Kanye West's Graduation and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, both of which sold something ridonkulous like a million copies the first week. Drake kinda sounds like a half-assed cross between Kanye West and Lil' Wayne, so his album should probably sell pretty well, if not as well as those two albums.
Even if it does, Drake can only make but so much money from trying to sell CDs. I'm more interested to see how much money he can make shilling for products and going out on tour. He somehow managed to effectively cut the TIs out of his record contract, but the TIs aren't sweating album sales anymore anyway. It'll be interesting to see if he can pull the same trick with his touring. I read a while back where the TIs had conned the government into allowing them to monopolize the concert business. They now own most of the venues and the ticketing agencies plus a lot of the artists. They probably wouldn't even let an artist perform in their venue, without receiving a pretty substantial cut of the profits.