Tag Archives: Roc Nation

Celebrity Cyber Report – Andre Iguodala, JayZ vs. The Prince Estate


Andre Iguodala

NBA players, like most pro athletes, make a nice income. Well lets be real; they make a helluva lot of money. Now one of their own, Andre Iguodala, is introducing them to a new game, tech investing.

Iguolada, the Golden State Warriors All-Star and NBA Finals MVP, is an investor in several companies with his business partner, Rudy Cline Thomas. Recently Inguodala and Thomas participated in a question-and-answer session with startup owners at LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco.

Iguodala made a savvy business move by joining the Golden States Warriors. He became part of one of the greatest teams in NBA history but also moved closer to the Silicon Valley. Iguodala came to the Bay Area with his eye on a championship and the tech start up investment opportunities.

The NBA star is doing his best to get other players interested in the start up game as well.

“I’m just trying to get my colleagues to understand that there is a space for us outside of our normal investing,” said Iguodala. “You normally see players investing in the barbershop. You see the music companies. You see a lot of real estate. You don’t see many go outside of their comfort zones. We want to change that.”

Since joining the Warriors Iguodala has jumped on the Silicon Valley tech scene like an errant pass.  He joins other NBA stars that include his teammate Steph Curry who invested in a online coaching service app, and a  social media platform. L.A. Clippers star Chris Paul co-created Game Vision, an app that uses games it claims will increase court vision awareness. Laker great Kobe Bryant has launched a $100 million dollar venture capital firm and Carmelo Anthony has created his own firm, Melo7 Tech Partners.

Many NBA players and other professional athletes have made millions outside of playing sports. But Iguodala points out that there is more to be made than just standing in front of a camera and endorsing a product.

“That’s the biggest thing, because the way we dealt with businesses in the past is a direct transaction: You pay me this amount and I’ll take a picture or endorse your product. I think the landscape has changed as far as endorsements are concerned because consumers are smarter. They know what’s authentic, what’s organic and what’s genuine.”

Because of this belief  Iguodala and Cline Thomas launched the National Basketball Players Association’s inaugural tech summit. This gathering took place last July and hooked up current and former NBA with key tech execs in San Francisco. Using his influence as the vice president for the player’s union Iguodala made it happen.

More than 30 NBA players participated in the three-day event.  “The response was amazing,” said Iguodala. “A lot of them, said, ‘Wow, we didn’t know what you meant?'” Cline Thomas added, “Some players are already investing. All it took was some exposure.”

JayZ vs. The Prince Estate

Prince’s record label NPG has gone to war with JayZ’s Roc Nation and it’s parent company Tidal.

Prince’s record label, NPG Records, filed the lawsuit in Minnesota accusing Roc Nation and Tidal of copyright infringement. NPG claims Tidal streamed Prince’s music without permission after his death. NPG Records gave Tidal exclusive streaming rights to the album, Hit ‘n Run Phase One, but for only 90 days. But NPG claims that after Prince’s death, Tidal began streaming as many as 15 of Prince’s other albums. NPG never agreed to that and characterized the move as exploitation.

Roc Nation disputes the claim. JayZ’s label says they have paperwork proving “various agreements between the relevant parties”  giving them rights to the music. NPG says it hasn’t seen any of these “agreements.” Roc Nation/Tidal and NPG have been at odds for some time, but Tuesday’s lawsuit has opened a new front in the battle.

Like all wars the sides and the issues are often complicated. This legal battle is complicated by a recent deal between Prince’s estate and Universal Music Publishing Group. According to Minneapolis Star Tribune Universal was named “the exclusive worldwide publishing administrator” for all of Prince’s music. Tidal took issue with the agreement and filed its own paperwork claiming that a previous contract gave it exclusive streaming rights. 

After the death of many celebrities and artists their estates become worth far more than they ever were in life. And Prince is no different. So the war has begun.

Jay-Z Taking the Hard Knocks of Music Streaming

jay-z-600Rap mogul Jay-Z is learning the music streaming business is a tough game. In March of this year Jay-Z purchased Tidal the subscription music streaming service for $56 million. This was clearly a bold move considering the competition from Spotify, Google, and Apple.

Jay-Z’s plan was to address complaints from artists that they are not getting paid, or not paid enough, for their music.

Music streaming apps and websites original purpose was to  make music cheap, or free, for consumers while assuring artists would be fairly compensated for their work. That’s not happening. Musicians and songwriters claim they’re barely seeing any money from streaming.

Some muscians have openly revolted. Singer Taylor Swift pulled all of her music from Spotify. Taylor claims the ability to stream her new album, “1989,” threatened to hurt sales. Spotify claims 50 million users paying $9.99 a month for the service or listening for free with advertisements.

In a move to back Jay-Z’s service Prince removed all his music from online streaming services except Tidal.

Jay Z’s strategy is to have Tidal be a company with majority ownership in the hands of the artists. Prior to a news conference anouncing the service Jay-Z said “This is a platform that’s owned by artists. We are treating the people that really care about the music with the utmost respect.”

But the streaming game has no gentle side and Tidal has struggled. To begin with the company has seen the loss of executives recentlyCEO Andy Chen left the company and was replaced by Peter Tonstad,  former CEO of Tidal’s parent company Aspiro Group, as an interm CEO.

At the time the company stated Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo.” But shortly thereafter Tonstad was fired. He was there less than three months. Currently day-to-day operations are being handled by Vania Schlogel, Roc Nation’s chief investment officer.

Right now Tidal is in desperate need of leadership. Though the company has significant artist backing it is tiny with a subscriber base of about 750,000 listeners. Spotify claims to have 20 million paying customers.

Another problem is that App Annie rankings reported that Tidal quickly dropped out of the top 500 most downloaded apps in the U.S. on April 18. In three days, it plummeted to no. 870.

For Jay-Z there seems to be no light at the end of the streaming tunnel. Currently the company is in a nasty dust up with rapper Lil Wayne’s record label Cash Money. The label has filed suit against Tidal for releasing Lil Wayne’s latest album “The Free Weezy Album.” They are asking $50 million in damages. Jay-Z only paid $56 million for the service.

Cash Money’s lawsuit claims that Tidal did not have the right to license the music and owes the label for the unapproved debut of the album. Tidal however claims that the rapper granted exclusive rights to the album in exchange for partial ownership of the company. Cash Money records called Tidal’s deal with Lil Wayne “a desperate and illegal attempt to save their struggling streaming service.”

Sadly Jay-Z and Tidal may have gotten caught up in a dispute between Lil Wayne and his record label. Lil Wayne claims his record label is holding back his money. The dispute has even led to the revelation of a possible murder conspiracy against the rapper.

Anyway you look at, if it gets to court, the outcome could have a major impact on the music business especially streaming services and music labels. When it comes to music streaming Jay-Z is learning, its a hard knock life.