Drake's $400M Universal Deal Was Reportedly 'One Of The Biggest Deals In Music History'
Photo Credit: Amy Sussman

Drake's $400M Universal Deal Was Reportedly 'One Of The Biggest Deals In Music History'

Drake is a certified millionaire — and a recent deal with Universal just made him $400 million richer.

According to Variety, the “Scorpion” king’s deal with Universal was completed in 2021, though details are just now beginning to emerge about the extent of the deal. The outlet reports that Aubrey Graham was issued a check for $400 million in a deal that includes everything from song recordings to visual projects.

The deal — similar to the one The Weeknd signed with the media giant — puts Drake in the Republic Records camp. What’s more, the deal is on par with some of the biggest deals in history. For example, according to Insider, Prince signed a $100 million deal with Warner Bros. — and the legendary Whitney Houston signed a similar $100 million deal with Arista, with hers being the largest deal in that label’s history. Jay-Z’s $150 million Live Nation deal in 2008 also made the cut, as did Lil Wayne’s $150 million Cash Money deal in 2012. And prior to Drake’s historic deal, Michael Jackson held the top spot as having the largest deal in music history, with $250 million going to his estate in 2010 from Sony Music.

From this rubric, it seems like Drake has the largest deal in music history. But let’s take a closer look at the details of this historic deal.

The Details of Drake's "Lebron-Sized" Deal

According to Variety, Drake’s $400 million Universal deal — called “Lebron-sized” because of the sheer magnitude of both its value and its scope — encompasses “recordings, publishing, merchandise, and visual media projects.”

Put simply, it’s a 360 deal on steroids.

What is a 360 Deal?

Kendall Minter wrote a book about the evolution of the 360 deal in the music industry, and in a nutshell, Minter explained that a 360 deal is when a record label can take a portion of every form of income that an artist may make off of his/ her music. The rise of the 360 deal correlated directly with the rise of digital music, which all but decimated the sales of physical music sales (records, cassettes, and CDs, to name a few), long considered the bread-and-butter of the record industry.

How does this deal benefit Drake?

To be clear, the full terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed. However, Variety speculates that Drake “owns his own masters,” which is the essential real estate of the music industry (Put simply, whoever owns the masters of a musical composition can, and will, make the lion’s share of the money on licensing and other deals).

How does this deal benefit Universal?

“The deal helps solidify its catalog holdings,” reports Variety. “The company owns 3 million sound recordings and boasts 4 of the top 5 most streamed artists of the last decade on Spotify. That report listed Drake among UMG’s 2021 ‘re-signings’ and noted €1.52 billion spent on catalog acquisitions and artists’ advances in 2020 (Drake is listed alongside Bob Dylan and Cash Money; his songs have also been ingested into the UMPG system).”