Will MySpace Put $300M in 50 Cent's Pocket?

Major Labels Under Pressure to Compete in Brand-Music Partnership Space

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According to widespread media reports, MySpace is in advanced talks sign 50 Cent to a $300 million multiyear, 360 deal that would give Rupert Murdoch's company control over Curtis James Jackson III's tours, books and film projects as well as future albums.

However, rumors of the deal have been denied by 50 himself as well as his management and a G-Unit "associate" that spoke with Vibe magazine, but it's not clear whether the reports may be wrong, inaccurate or just awkward while negotiations are still taking place.

50 Cent would be the first A-list artist that MySpace has enticed aboard its fledgling MySpace Records, and the deal, if completed, will dwarf those made by Live Nation with Madonna for a reported $120 million and Jay-Z for $150 million. 50 Cent is currently signed to Interscope Records, which has been with the rapper since the early days of his career, but his deal, which includes his own Interscope-backed label, G-Unit records, is due to expire soon.

Forbes hasn't issued its 2008 Celebrity 100 list yet, but in last year's ranking, 50 Cent received an estimated $33 million through his various ventures. With the sale of his stake in VitaminWater for an estimated $100 million, his ranking this year should put him at the top near Oprah Winfrey, who was first last year with an estimated income of $260 million.

Increasingly, labels are left holding only the back catalogs as their superstars flee for other ventures, but that's not where the real money appears to be these days. While CD sales continue to decline, artist income is increasingly coming from broader enterprises. To quote leading-edge artist manager Terry McBride (who's in charge of the Barenaked Ladies and Avril Lavigne) at the Musexpo keynote: "We are now in the business of building entertainment brands, the music is simply the glue that holds it together"

At a time when major labels are reporting poor earnings and shedding staff, it looks like they are really going to have to invest in talent in order to compete with the deep-pocketed new entrants to the markets.
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