Something funny ‘ and I don’t mean humorous ‘ in the world of hip-hop magnate Jay-Z. Sony Music thinks they’re signing to distribute his latest album, “The Blueprint 3,” for their Epic label. But yesterday, the fun folks at Warner Music Group planted a story in a New York Daily News gossip column that they were secretly negotiating with Jay-Z to do the same thing. The story was so glowing about WMG that it was a bit hard to swallow: Why would smart Jay-Z want to go where no hits exist? WMG has even had trouble delivering on Green Day’s new album.
But there’s more: Jay-Z bought back this CD from Universal Music Group for $5 million after making an overall deal with Live Nation. With Live Nation, Jay-Z ‘ real name Shawn Carter ‘ is partners in everything including his Roc Nation label.
But Live Nation, which has deals with Madonna, U2, Nickelback, and Shakira, is not a record label. It’s a concert promoter. For example, with U2, Live Nation is also in business with Universal’s Interscope to release U2 albums. This means that the other acts ‘ including Madonna ‘ will need similar deals to put out albums. Madonna and Nickelback have each left Warner, so their deals will presumably be elsewhere or otherwise.
In Jay-Z’s case, he and Epic’s Amanda Ghost share a manager. Jay-Z’s wife, Beyonce Knowles, is a Sony star. So making the Sony-Epic deal seems right. Joining Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles at WMG does not.
(Cohen, by the way, celebrated WMG’s lack of chart hits last week by going to the Cannes Film Festival with girlfriend Tory Burch. Cannes, he didn’t seem to know, is a FILM festival, mostly in French, and so having nothing to do with the AMERICAN RECORD business. WMG stockholders would do well to check that expense account. Hotel rooms for CEOs during the festival start at $1,000 a night.)
But the Jay-Z/WMG story had its desired effect, moving the recently miraculously and mysteriously revived WMG stock up 16 cents to close yesterday at $6.52. In February, when the company had just as few hits, the stock bottomed out at $1.74.