4/2/13, "With New Move, Jay-Z Enters a Sports Agent State of Mind,
" NY Times, Ken Belson
|Jay Z at 2009 Yankee World Series parade|
"His social circle includes
the biggest names in sports. His celebrity
cachet is unmatched. He has informally advised athletes on everything
from housing choices to contract extensions.
has long been in the inner circle of A-listers like Alex Rodriguez
and LeBron James, using their names in his lyrics and their star
wattage to enhance his own. Now, he is making a move to turn those
relationships into big business in a more formal way.
|JayZ and Cano in 2009|
Roc Nation Sports
is the newest arm of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s “full-service entertainment
company” that has quickly built a strong reputation representing artists
like Rihanna, Shakira and M.I.A. Jay-Z has been temporarily licensed to
represent professional baseball players, said Ron Berkowitz, a
spokesman for Roc Nation Sports, which also has teamed with Creative
Artists Agency, a leading Hollywood agency that provides formidable
With the borders among music, film and sports growing ever blurrier,
leading agents and their companies increasingly see sports as the next
frontier. Athletes command contracts worth hundreds of millions of
dollars — an irresistible prospect especially if the film industry
continues to stagnate and the television and music worlds fragment
which has long been a blue-chip Hollywood agency representing stars
like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, now represents more than 800 athletes,
including Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks and Buster Posey, who recently
signed a $167 million deal
with the San Francisco Giants. Creative Artists has been looking to
expand even further into the sports world since at least 2010, when the agency sold a 35 percent stake to the buyout firm TPG Capital
That deal put Creative Artists and TPG Capital in control of a $500
million investment fund that included sports as one of its priorities.
Roc Nation Sports represents the latest piece of the Jay-Z empire, which
already includes nightclubs, video games, a clothing line and a small ownership stake in the Nets
It is widely seen as a savvy move that will capitalize on his success
rebranding the Nets, and attract internationally known athletes, who
double as some of his biggest fans. It also creates yet another
potential windfall for him.
In baseball, agents typically receive 5 percent of a deal. Cano, a
30-year-old All-Star second baseman, is expected to command at least a
$200 million contract whether or not he becomes a free agent at the end
of the season, which means Roc Nation and Creative Artists could earn as
much as $10 million on Cano alone. It was unclear how Roc Nation and
Creative Artists would divide their fees, and how much Jay-Z would
Roc Nation is the entertainment company that Jay-Z founded through the $150 million deal
he struck with Live Nation in 2008.
It has a record label with a
handful of artists attached, as well as a music publishing division for
songwriters, but the company, a joint venture with Live Nation, is
primarily known for its management division.
Although still a boutique firm — the top management companies in music
represent far more acts — Roc Nation has quickly built a strong
reputation for innovative and aggressive management, in part because of
the company’s president, Jay Brown.
“Because of my love of sports, it was a natural progression to form a
company where we can help top athletes in various sports the same way we
have been helping artists in the music industry for years,” Jay-Z said
in a statement.
Cano will have his pick of suitors when his contract expires unless the
Yankees re-sign him before then. He described the decision to sign with
Roc Nation as a move to “take a more active role in my endeavors both on
and off the field.”
But it was a drastic and very public breakup with his agent Scott Boras
who has established himself over the past 25 years as the most powerful
agent in baseball, feared by owners and coveted by players. He has
regularly negotiated major deals for many of the game’s biggest stars,
seemingly always extracting far bigger contracts than anyone thought
possible. In recent years, he has had a hand in securing $275 million
for Rodriguez, $214 million for Prince Fielder and $18.9 million for
Bryce Harper before he played a major-league game.
It is not unprecedented for a player to defect from Boras — Cano was the
third Yankee to do so in recent years — but the decision still
reverberated across the sports world on Tuesday.
Boras declined to comment.
The N.B.A. said in a statement that there was “no prohibition on N.B.A.
owners having an interest in businesses that represent non-N.B.A.
athletes.” The Nets did not describe how Jay-Z’s new arrangement would
affect his role with the team other than to say, “We fully support all
of Jay-Z’s endeavors.”
Berkowitz, the spokesman, said Jay-Z was concentrating on baseball,
apparently steering clear of that potential conflict. “The main thing is
to launch the company with an All-Star like Robinson Cano,” Berkowitz
Some analysts said that they expected that Jay-Z would add a sprinkling
of celebrity dust to Creative Artists’ sports division, but that he
would do little more than bring athletes to the table.
“This is really an arrangement with C.A.A.,” said Jordan Kobritz, the
chairman of the sport management department at SUNY Cortland and a
former owner of a minor league baseball team in Daytona, Fla. “Jay-Z is
part of their recruiting arm because he has access, and is a public
entity, and New York is his cradle.”
“I don’t know a lot about writing songs, and he probably doesn’t know
about negotiating player deals,” said the agent, who declined to comment
on the record about a competitor.
If Jay-Z does not know about negotiating such deals, he is about to find
out — perhaps with some of the top players in sports."