This week Jay-Z and Kanye West unveiled their long-awaited collaboration, Watch the Throne. Why is this on the front page of a tech heavy blog? The Watch The Throne rappers debuted around the world exclusively on Apple’s iTunes. The album’s timing and title are perfect when referring to Jay-Z. He not only topped Forbes list as hip-hop’s top earner with $37 million in the past 12 months but it’s his fourth time doing so in the last five years.
Many other artist have released exclusives on iTunes. What makes Jay-Z different? Well he sees technology as a good bet into more markets and just good business. This is not Jay-Z’s jump into the tech world as an media. He tried to buy Comcast’s G4 with Sean Combs and film executive Harvey Weinstein in 2007. That did not work out but a deal with Adult Swim seems to have worked. It has been confirmed by sources at Turner Broadcasting, Cartoon Network’s parent company.
What will interesting is to see if Jay-Z dives deeper into other forms of media and technology. He already has the clubs (40/40), the sports team (NY Nets), the record label (RocNation) and the clothing company (Rocawear). The only thing missing is movies and TV. With the Turner deal TV can somewhat be checked off. Maybe he could do a Game of Thrones ad campaign tie in or a MacBook Air RocNation limited edition. Wait never mind Apple does not do such things. Maybe HP.
The point is Jay-Z has ruled over rap and Hip Hop in general that the next uncharted plain is technology. He may indirectly set the standard for all who follow. Every artist now seems to have plans to own a record company or have a side business. For better or worse he has educated artist on the possibilities and benefits of being an entrepreneur. In the grand scheme of things most tech companies are started out by people going against the norm. See Apple “Think Different”