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Jay-Z, Roc Nation sign with Universal Music Group

April 08, 2013|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • Jay-Z's Roc Nation has partnered with Universal Music Group.
Jay-Z's Roc Nation has partnered with Universal Music Group. ( Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z, and Universal Music Group have entered a multiyear, worldwide partnership, the companies announced Monday.

The venture will allow the Roc Nation music label to operate as a standalone within the UMG family -- the largest music company -- effective immediately.

As part of the agreement, forthcoming albums from Jay-Z, Rihanna and others will be released through UMG worldwide, according to the announcement.

“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, who founded the entertainment company in 2008, said in a statement.

The deal marks a homecoming for the multiplatinum rapper-mogul. His Roc-A-Fella Records imprint was distributed by UMG and he previously served as president of Def Jam Records, also part of Universal, from 2004 to 2009, where he signed a then-teenage Rihanna.

Jay-Z protégé J. Cole, Willow Smith, R&B singer Bridget Kelly, Jay Electronica and British urban pop chameleon Rita Ora have all been signed to the label, which was previously distributed through Sony Music Entertainment.

Roc Nation has expanded aggressively in the last year. The company, which already manages Rihanna, Santigold, Melanie Fiona, Wale and Mark Ronson, signed management deals with hitmaker Timbaland, Shakira, Kylie Minoge, M.I.A. and buzzy L.A. trio Haim.

Last week, the company announced that it had dipped into athletics with a new sports agency, Roc Nation Sports, and snagged New York Yankees’ star Robinson Cano.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jay-Z will also produce and perform on the soundtrack to "The Great Gatsby," which will be issued through Universal-owned Interscope Records.

Gerrick Kennedy

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