Views From The Top

From Canadian TV to tech investments, Drake shows why he is more than your ordinary rapper

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Drake has come a long way from earning $50,000 a year for his role as Jimmy Brooks on the television show Degrassi: The Next Generation. I’m not sure whether my love and admiration for Drake comes from some sort of millennial obligation or the fact that this Canadian, mixed-race, emotional, TV star-turned-rapper simply beat the odds, rose to the top of the charts and became (in his mind anyway) a legend.

Behind Drake’s massive success, is an undisputed work ethic that has made him one of hip-hop’s most present figures. Now more than ever Drake stays breaking Billboard chart records with R&B-tinged slow jams and gritty bangers in a music genre that lionizes street culture.

Just eight years into his illustrious music career, Drake has hit milestones most artists can only dream of. Aside from his success in the music industry Drake has ventured into other money-making projects that helped him earn a spot in The Forbes Five.

Before we dive into Drake’s ever-growing fortune and brand let’s take a quick look at his history in earnings since he started the whole music thing back in 2009.

A year after dropping his first studio mixtape, So Far Gone, Drizzy released his freshman album, Thank Me Later, which upped his net worth by the end of 2010 to $15 million.

The following year Drake earned a Grammy for his second studio album, Take Care, which was fundamental in popularizing expansive production and emotional themes that we are all so accustomed to today. By the end of 2011, Drake’s net worth rose to $23 million; almost ten million in one year.

In 2013 Drake dropped Nothing Was the Same. Looking back, this is a truly fitting title, since then he has been on another level. By this time fans knew Drake and Drake knew his fans. NWTS captured the sentimental Drizzy that serenaded the ladies and the beats/flows that hyped up the fellas. After this feat Drake was worth almost $75 million.

Meek Mill’s feelings aside, 2015 was the year Drake killed the game. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was released, a mixtape that was really an album but somehow marketed as a mixtape. This was also the year he released his joint effort with Future, What a Time to Be Alive. We also witnessed the $19 million dollar deal between Drake and Apple, which we will get into more detail in a bit. By the end of 2015, Drake’s net worth racked up to near $90 million.

The following year, Drake’s had his best year ever according to Billboard. Shattering expectations on his fourth studio album, Views, and becoming Spotify’s most streamed artist was just a small sample of Drake’s success in 2016. This was the year that Drake — with a net worth of $101 million — knocked 50 Cent off the Forbes Five and secured his spot next to Hip-Hop’s richest entrepreneurs.

We are not completely sure what Drake has in store for 2017 after the release of his highly anticipated mixtape/album/playlist (who knows?) More Life. What we can expect is for Drizzy to chase the money just as hard as he has in years past. With his work ethic and the amount of music he puts out each year, he can easily add another 10 million to his net worth by the end of 2017.

Watching Drake’s success swell up year after year is in a way inspiring to fans and maybe a bit irritating to other rappers in the game. But it’s not only the music that has generated so much wealth for the 6 God, let’s take a look at the business ventures that have landed him in the comfortable spot he’s in right now.


Creating His Own Sound: The OVO Sound

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If you pay attention to the history of successful music artists, they have one thing in common: they start a record label.

Drake started OVO Sound in 2012, along with his long-time musical partners Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib. The label signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. that same year.

Although Drake is OVO Sound’s marquee artist, he remains signed to Universal Music Group’s Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records. To date, Drake has released three full-length projects under OVO: Nothing Was the Same (2013), If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015), and What A Time To Be Alive (2015). Other names on the roster include PartyNextDoor, Roy Woods, Dvsn, and Majid Jordan, along with producers Boi-1da, T-Minus, Mike Zombie, and Nineteen85. All of these acts have contributed music to Drake projects, as well as releasing solo material. In addition to merchandising, OVO also profits from hosting a yearly music festival in Toronto. OVO Fest’s first four years have included surprise guests such as Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, P. Diddy, TLC, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem, Snoop Lion and Nicki Minaj.

There are talks that Drake could be leaving Cash Money at the end of the year after releasing “More Life”. If this is true we could potentially see Drake upping production and having more creative freedom within the next projects coming out of his label, thus increasing chances of making even more cash.


Building Strong Fashion Associations

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I guess we could have seen this one coming. Drake is not the first and definitely will not be the last rapper to try his luck in the fashion game.

Since its inception in 2011, Drake’s clothing line has become an interesting label that combines the pop cultural appeal of a Kanye West collaboration with the low-key style of a brand like Supreme.

Then in 2013, Drake announced his partnership with the Jordan Brand. The partnership proved hugely successful for both parties, as Drake was given a platform to widen his OVO brand (and his bank account). According to Complex, Drake’s Jordan cosign has created “an undeniable energy that hasn’t been around in quite some time”. Drake has pretty much become a walking billboard for Jordan and Nike.

When he took the stage at OVO Fest in Toronto two summers ago wearing a Jordan jumpsuit with the then unreleased Air Jordan VIII, people noticed. A month later, he got the entire world to shout “Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman,” along with Future. He’s undoubtedly doing something right. In January 2017, Footwear News reported that Drake’s OVO Air Jordan’s sold out in record time and were being resold for over $10,000 a pair.

In 2014 OVO opened flagship stores in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles, with plans of expansion in London this year.


Making The Right Business Deals

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Drake showed his business savvy (or his advisers did) when he ducked out on the opportunity to be part of Jay Z’s Tidal debacle. Drake wisely went with Apple Music instead. In 2015, amid stiff competition from established streaming leaders like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Rhapsody, Apple unveiled their version of a streaming music app, Apple Music.

The Apple Music promotion is part of a broader deal Drake is said to have signed with Apple for $19 million. Drake further expanded the OVO imprint by launching OVO Sound Radio in 2015 as part of a partnership with Beats 1 Radio and Apple Music.

Instead of just getting his feet wet in the music streaming game, Drizzy dove in head first, making as clean an entry as you could imagine.

Drake has streaming royalties with Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. Spotify pays an average of $0.005 per stream while Apple Music pays around $0.007 per stream. Drake has over 10 billion streams as of 2017 on Spotify and growing fast, bringing him in over $50 million from Spotify. His album More Life was streamed over 300 million times on Apple Music during its first week generating close to $2.1 million in royalties.


Changing Professional Sports Branding

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In 2013, the Raptors made headlines when they announced that Drake would serve as the team’s “global ambassador.”

This made Drake an official part of the franchise, and it was the first of its kind in NBA history. As part of his duties, the 6 God has helped the team completely redesign their franchise from their logos to color schemes, to uniforms.

In addition to his newfound involvement with the Raptors, Drake recently partnered with New Era for another sports-related venture. With help from New Era, Drake released two special edition Toronto Blue Jays caps during this year’s OVO Fest. The special edition caps retailed for $75.

In line with his NBA ventures, Drake secured the hosting honors for the first ever NBA Awards Show, which will take place on June 26. He is also set to perform at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, which airs live on ABC on May 21. These gigs come in the midst of Drake’s continued streaming dominance, highlighted by his More Life playlist surpassing one billion streams.


Venturing Into The Tech World

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At this point, it’s practically impossible to avoid Drake in nearly every aspect of pop culture. He has taken over the music world and the internet, but it looks like he is working on becoming omnipresent with his ventures into the tech world. Drake is expanding his portfolio by getting in on a new app to organize your belongings called Omni. In addition to investing money, Drake will also be involved in the creative end as well. Omni takes the stress out of storing your own belongings by doing it for you, then delivering it to you when you want it. At the convenience of an app, you can get your sunglasses or bike shipped back to you.

I can’t really imagine a scenario in which I would want someone to deliver my headphones to me instead of just keeping my headphones in a drawer and grabbing them when I wanted them. But what do I know? Drake’s got a hell of a track record, if he is investing in them, they have a decent shot at success. As we saw with Dr. Dre, if anything’s going to make Drake a billionaire, it won’t be music, it will be tech.

Cut From A Different Cloth

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Drake is a rarity in the hip-hop considering his mass pop appeal. His ability to weave between flows and musical sounds has made him of the genre’s biggest and most versatile stars.

He is successful because he is ambitious. He has a dream and he’s doing everything he can to get there. If you listen to his songs, it’s almost all he talks about. Sure he was on television from a young age. A lot of people were, are all of them super famous?

Aside from the rare critic who claims that Drake is too “soft”, the hyper-masculine culture of hip-hop has welcomed his hybrid moody r&b/hip-hop style.

Accolades aside, Drake’s success has come from hard work. He may not have started all the way at the bottom, but he sure worked his way to the top.

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