Rapper Shawn “Jay Z” Carter has an estimated net worth of $610 million as of 2016, according to Forbes. Jay Z, a rap icon, philanthropist and entrepreneur, came to prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the albums Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 and The Dynasty. Apart from his music career, Jay Z has established himself as a savvy businessman across several industries, including clothing lines, real estate, sports teams, record labels, beverages and more. Jay Z is married to Beyoncé, who herself has an estimated net worth of $290 million.
How Does Jay Z Make His Money?
- Record Labels
- Concert Sales
- Music Streaming and Album Sales
- Clothing and Merchandise
- Real Estate
Jay Z, Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke founded Roc-A-Fella records in 1996, initially to serve as an independent label for Jay Z’s first album. The company grew in the early 2000s, with Jay Z as the label’s major image. Following years of rumors of friction and feuds, it was revealed in 2004 that Jay Z was named president and CEO of Def Jam Records. He left Def Jam in 2007 and later started Roc Nation.
Tidal Streaming Service
In 2015, Jay Z bought the music streaming service Tidal for $56 million. He was at first was widely mocked for the purchase, which had a rough start in terms of keeping subscribers. The artist-owned company was valued at $600 million in 2017. In January, Sprint invested $200 million in the streaming service. Jay Z has said the company has three million subscribers, lower than that of other streaming services.
Hard Knock Life Tour
The Hard Knock Life tour — Jay Z’s first official one in 1999 — grossed about $18 million, according to an Entertainment Weekly report at the time. The 11-week tour spanned sold-out arenas from Canada to Texas, EW reported. Jay Z’s rap tour included several other artists. Damon Dash, the label head of Roc a Fella Records at the time, called Hard Knock “the most successful hip hop tour ever.”
Blueprint Lounge and American Gangster Tours
In 2001, Jay Z went on the Blueprint Lounge Tour, which came directly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Although it is unclear how much he earned in total from the tour, he donated a dollar of the cost of every ticket sold to relief organizations because of the attacks. His subsequent headlining our, American Gangster, grossed $4 million, according to Money Nation.
Magna Carta World Tour
The last tour Jay Z headlined was the Magna Carta World Tour, in 2013-2014, which earned $10.8 million in the U.S. In total, the tour earned $20,740,000, according to Money Nation. It was the first tour he headlined since 2009’s Fall Tour, which earned about $15 million, according to Money Nation. Magna Carta earned mixed reviews from critics, although demand to see Jay Z was high. The tour spanned worldwide, as well, with a second U.S. leg added in early 2014.
Best of Both Worlds Tour
Jay Z has done several collaborative tours, with rappers like 50 Cent and R. Kelly, and R&B singers like Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé. In 2004, Jay Z embarked on the Best of Both Worlds Tour with R. Kelly to promote their collaboration album, Unfinished Business. The 40-city tour was expected to gross $30 million, but was weighed down by controversy. Money Nation reports that gross totals ended up at $16 million. Critics noted palpable tension between the rappers on the tour, which bubbled up at Madison Square Garden, where R. Kelly was reportedly pepper sprayed by a friend of Jay Z’s. Jay Z continued to tour without R. Kelly later that year, Rolling Stone reported at the time.
Heart of the City Tour
Four years after Best of Both Worlds, Jay Z joined Mary J. Blige on the Heart of the City tour, which grossed more than $35 million, UPI reported. The tour spanned 25 cities across North America to support Blige’s album Growing Pains and Jay Z’s American Gangster. It was one of the most successful male/female hip-hop/R&B tours in history.
Jay Z & Ciara Live
In 2008, Jay Z went on tour with Ciara to support his new album The Blueprint 3 and Ciara’s Fantasy Ride. The six-date tour, Jay Z & Ciara Live, spanned the U.S. and earned favorable reviews. Gross earnings were about $12 million, Money Nation reported.
The Home & Home Tour
In 2010, Jay Z toured with Eminem in The Home & Home tour, which earned about $2 million, according to Money Nation.
Watch the Throne Tour
Between 2011 and 2012, Jay Z performed with Kanye West on the Watch the Throne tour, which earned $75 million at the box office. Jay Z and West performed 34 shows across North America and 23 shows across Europe.
Legends of the Summer Tour
In 2013, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake performed the worldwide tour Legends of the Summer, earning $68.8 million.
On the Run Tour
In 2014, Jay Z co-headlined, with wife Beyoncé, the On the Run tour. The tour grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales across 19 shows in North America, Billboard reported. According to Billboard, the tour earned about $5.2 million each night with an average of nearly 45,000 in attendance.
Music Streaming and Album Sales
Jay Z’s total album sales exceed 55 million, as of December 2014. With 12 solo studio albums and four collaborative albums, Jay Z has earned about $78 million in music sales, according to Money Nation. His highest grossing albums are Vol. 2, Hard Knock Life and The Black Album, grossing $115.3 million and about $44 million, respectively, according to Money Nation. The rapper pulled his music from the Spotify and Apple Music streaming services in April.
Via Vevo, Jay Z reportedly earns about $1.32 million from YouTube streaming.
Investments and Merchandise
Jay Z has invested and endorsed a variety of products over his career, and has adopted each into his personal brand in some way. He has also owned and invested in numerous companies.
Founded by Jay Z and Jay Brown in 2008, Roc Nation is an entertainment company that houses a record label, among other services, including a talent agency, a touring and concert production company, a production company for music, film and TV and a music publishing house. Roc Nation has a partnership with Live Nation and had a distribution deal with Sony Music for four years. In 2017, the company announced a new division called Arrive that will focus on investing in startups.
Along with Damon Dash, Jay Z founded the urban clothing brand Rocawear in 1999. The duo sold the brand in 2007 for $204 million to Iconix Brand Group. At the time, Rocawear earned annual sales of over $700 million, Reuters reported. Iconix said in 2007 that it expected to earn about $43 million in royalty revenue in its first year.
Jay Z also co-owns the 40/40 club in New York, which opened in 2003, according to Forbes. Forbes reports that the club’s star quality declined over the years, and closed down for renovations. It reopened in 2012, projecting profits of $5 million per year, according to Forbes. As of 2012, the club was expected to pull in annual earnings of $10 million.
In 2005, Jay Z, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith invested $10 million in Carol’s Daughter, a beauty products startup targeted at black women.
In 2011, it was reported that Jay Z promotes Champagne Armand de Brignac, secretly earning up to $4 million per year from talking up the drink.
Jay Z collaborates with Budweiser on marketing and ad development. He curated Budweiser’s Made In America festival in 2012. The festival was promoted by Live Nation, with whom Jay Z signed a $150 million deal in 2008.
Jay Z in 2013 signed a $5 million deal with Samsung Galaxy as part of a larger deal (valued at $20 million) between the company and Roc Nation.
Further investments and endorsements include Gain Global Investments Network, Hewlett-Packard, Reebok, and Translation Advertising, among others.
Jay Z sold his stake in the Barclays Center in 2013 for $1.5 million. He also owned a small share of the Brooklyn Nets, for which he paid $4.5 million. He had to sell the share when he took ownership of his sports agency, Roc Nation Sports. According to Forbes, Roc Nation Sports has earned a total of $19.2 million, as of September 2016.
Jay Z and Beyoncé have a 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom Hamptons rental called The Sandcastle, which also includes a movie screening room and a bowling alley. They reportedly paid more than $40 million for the house. The couple was recently reported to be looking for a home in Los Angeles, and apparently sought out a 57,000 square foot place, according to according to People. They previously owned a home in Florida that sold for $9.3 million in 2010.
Previously, Jay Z lived in a Brooklyn apartment that he referred to in the song “Empire State of Mind” as his “stash spot.” The apartment is now valued at $870,000, according to Complex. In 1999, Jay Z and Damon Dash rented a place called Goose Creek in Wainscott, New York, for $450,000 per month. In 2004, he bought the seventh floor of a New York City building for $6.85 million. He rented the penthouse of the Time Warner Center for $40,000 per month in 2007.
In 2010, Jay Z released his autobiography, Decoded. The book compiled lyrics, their meanings, stories and information about his life, along with anecdotes about the challenges of being a celebrity. The book premiered at No. 3 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund
Among his many charitable contributions, Jay Z runs a scholarship fund for students to pursue higher education despite socio-economic challenges such as teen pregnancy, incarceration, poverty and homelessness.
Film and TV
Jay Z has teamed up with the Weinstein Company to produce a series of television and film projects about Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was killed in Florida in 2012. The project includes a documentary series and movie, based on two books about Martin’s death and the subsequent acquittal of his killer. Previously, Jay Z and Weinstein Television joined to produce Time: The Kalief Browder Story, which aired on Spike TV in March 2016. The six-part docu-series explored the story of Kalief Browder, who was imprisoned on Rikers Island for three years and committed suicide after his release.