On the heals of his announcement that his entertainment company, Roc Nation, was expanding into a sports agency; and in the midst of the backlash that he and wife, Beyoncé, are facing for their current trip to Cuba, rap superstar Jay-Z has inked a new distribution home for his record label division of Roc Nation.
Jay-Z has finalized a worldwide, multiyear deal with Universal Music Group for its record releases.
Roc Nation was previously in partnership with Sony Music. Jay-Z’s own music had been released via Atlantic Records. All of Roc Nation’s releases, including the 43-year-old hip-hop star’s music, will now be released through Universal.
“This agreement presents a unique opportunity for Roc Nation’s artists – being able to continue to operate as an independent label with the strength, power and reach of the best major,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “I look forward to a long and prosperous collaboration with U.M.G. It feels good to be home.”
The specific terms of the new venture with Universal were not disclosed. There was an apparent bidding war between Sony and Universal for the Roc Nation deal.
Jay-Z’s company is a joint venture with Live Nation Entertainment that was created as part of his $150 million deal with that company in 2008. It includes a record label, music publishing division and a growing roster of artists under management, including Rihanna, Shakira, Timbaland, M.I.A. and Kylie Minogue.
As part of Jay-Z’s new deal with Universal, Rihanna will also extend her recording contract with Universal, where she currently records for their Def Jam label.
Jay-Z signed Rihanna when was president of Def Jam for several years in the mid-2000s. He too previously released music for the label, but after starting Roc Nation, released his latest solo album, “The Blueprint 3,” through a distribution arrangement with Atlantic.
In other Jay-Z news, the rapper has decided to sell his shares of the Brooklyn Nets, the team for which he is the unofficial celebrity ambassador, in order to expand his sports representation agency to include NBA players.