Turnover at Motown, Berner's Billion-Dollar Weed Business, and Hip-Hop's Wealthiest of 2022
This episode is a two-parter. At the top, I talk about the news at Motown Records with Ethiopia Habtemariam stepping down from her role as CEO and Chairwoman. After that, I talked to Zack O’Malley Greenburg about Hip-Hop’s wealthiest artists of 2022.
After years of compiling the list for Forbes, Zack O’Malley Greenburg released the 2022 edition independently. This time around, he used insights from Columbia Business School to better grasp on the wealth of the industry’s biggest moguls.
Jay-Z tops the updated list with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion. In second is the newly-minted billionaire Sean “Diddy” Combs. The rankings are rounded out by Ye ($500 million), Berner ($410 million), and Dr. Dre ($400 million).
Zack joined me on the episode to discuss the rankings, and two artists in particular — Diddy and Berner. Diddy has a portfolio of diversified assets that include media, music, spirits, and now cannabis. Berner is the biggest surprise of the top 5 but has quietly built a cannabis empire with a large runway for further growth. Here’s everything Zack and I covered on the show:
[13:56 ] Zack’s process behind putting the list together
[15:40 ] The newest billionaire on the list
[16:41 ] The growth of Diddy’s DeLeon tequila brand
[29:02 ] Sean John’s place in Diddy’s portfolio
[30:28 ] Diddy’s latest moves in cannabis and possibly Twitter
[32:45 ] The evolving business of REVOLT
[36:19 ] Berner’s “surprise” $410 million net worth
[31:50 ] High potential for Berner’s business
[34:52 ] Berner’s business success supersedes his music fame
[39:50 ] Drake moving up the ranks
[43:50 ] Girl Dad stories
Zack’s Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists list for 2022: https://zogblog.substack.com/p/hip-hops-wealthiest-artists-2022
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblog
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[00:00:00 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.
[00:00:23 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, today's episode is a two parter. The first part of the episode, we're gonna do a breakdown on one of the more recent news that happened in the music industry. Motown Records CEO and Chairwoman Ethiopia Habtemariam has stepped down and there is a lot to unpack there. So we're gonna talk about that. And in the second half of this episode, we're joined by my guy Zack O'Malley Greenburg, and we are gonna talk about the recent list that he put out, which is his hip hop's 2022 list for the wealthiest artist. He has some new announcements, some usual names, and we break it all down. But first, let's start with the news at Motown. So it was last week, shortly after Thanksgiving. Ethiopia and Universal, and Motown announced that she will be stepping down from her role. This is a role that she has officially had at this level for just over a year and a half. I think it was March, 2021 that the role was announced, but she's essentially been the face of Motown from a leadership perspective for over a decade now and when the move happened, I think that there were a fair amount of people I could understand that could have been caught off guard by it. But when I start asking around, asking a few people questions who I know understand the situation pretty well, it's quick to see that what's being pushed publicly isn't quite reflecting what's actually happening behind closed doors. But before we get to all that, let's talk about some of the wins that I think Motown and Ethiopia have accomplished over the past decade, because I think these stand out and they're really important. I look at the 2015 joint venture deal that she did with quality control music, as one of those deals that can ultimately help bring a record label from its days of resting on its laurels to being able to get a bit more current. We've seen this happen time and time again. You look at Interscope in the early nineties. Interscope was a legacy rock and roll label. Jimmy Iovine was trying to figure out the next thing and then boom. Here comes Suge Knight. Here comes Dr. Dre and Death Row records comes through. Not only does Death Row continue to rise up with the supportive Interscope, but you also see Interscope adopt a bit of that cool factor and really revive itself, and now Interscope is continuing to be one of the strongest record labels that we have. You also saw that a few years later happened with Republic records and with cash money signs. The deal that I've talked about plenty of times on this podcast, that 1998 distribution deal and that deal did a lot for Baby and Slim, but it arguably did even more for Republic Records, which now I believe it's in its fourth year in a row, the leading industry or the leading record label in the industry when it comes to overall market share. And I do think that what quality control and Motown were able to do, do deserve some similar praise. But the slight difference here is that Motown for a lot of its time and even more so as we continue to learn, was saddled under the Capitol Music Group umbrella and didn't really have the opportunity to standalone as a true record label that could run on its own and be a standalone entity. The same way that we see with Interscope, the same way that you see with Republic. And some of the other record labels that are under the Universal Music Group umbrella. When the news first announced though, there wasn't as much chatter about Ethiopia's departure. You think about the times that Def Jam has turned over CEOs. There are think pieces on think piece. You can't get people to stop talking and sharing their opinions, and some of them on base, but people sharing their opinions about what Def Jam did and didn't do wrong, but there wasn't as much here. You saw a little bit in piece that Gail Mitchell at Billboard had done where I think she did a good breakdown. You could definitely read between the lines a little bit of some of the things that necessarily weren't being said, but what I think we started to unpack and what we started to get a sense for was, even though Motown had increased its market share considerably under Ethiopia's tenure, I believe back in 2017, it was around 0.4%. And as of most recently from what Billboard reported in 2022, it's at 0.95%. And that's great, more than double. And you think about how much more recorded music has grown from 2017 to 2022 now as well, that's a pretty huge growth and that's nothing to shy away from. The thing is, record label executives and the music industry aren't just judged on market share. You're judged on how efficient you are with what you do to acquire that market share. You're also judged on your ability to score deals and your ability to do it in a way that's efficient. Everyone still has a PNL at the end of the day. But I think the slight difference for some of these companies is that because they sit under the Universal Music Group umbrella, you may not necessarily know what's really happening unless you have a really discerning eye and you can put two and two together. And if you look at some of the moves that Motown has made over the years, there have been a number of big signings. But have those big signings always necessarily led to the type of results? You know, someone like Universal CEO, Lucian Green wants to see from a record label that now would be standing alone and no longer under the Capitol Music Group umbrella. You look at an artist like Lil Baby, who you know, through quality control, is part of that Motown collective. But, you needed a few more artists at that level and you needed to get them at affordable rates. And I think the biggest win that we saw from Motown in recent years was they recently signed NBA Young Boy. This is about a year after he started working with his record label, but how much did it cost to get NBA Young Boy? He had just posted on Instagram, this is two months before this deal was made public. He had just posted on Instagram, this was in August, 2022, that he was a 60 million dollar dude. You're saying you're a 60 million dude. A lot of people thought that was a cash money deal. They thought that was probably what Baby and Slim offered, but you later find out that this is what was coming from Motown, and I don't know if that's the number or not, but you can just assume a few things. One, NBA Young Boy was someone that just got out of his deal at Atlantic Records and he's getting out of his deal. This is the second most streamed artist according to HITS Daily