Jay-Z Inks Deal with Universal for Record Releases

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    Days after the launch of a new sports agency arm of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s company has announced a worldwide deal with the Universal Music Group for its record releases, reports the New York Times.

    The deal, described as a multiyear partnership, will bring Roc Nation’s record label under Universal’s umbrella, moving it from Sony Music, where the label last struck a deal four years ago. It also means that Jay-Z’s own records, which recently were released through a deal with Atlantic Records, part of the Warner Music Group, will once again come out on Universal.

    Terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but a person briefed on the negotiations, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, said it was one of the more competitive label auctions in recent years, with interest from all the major record companies, the Times reported. Sony and Universal, the two largest record conglomerates, have been competing intensely to sign deals with top artists and independent labels.

    Roc Nation is a joint venture with Live Nation Entertainment that was created as part of Jay-Z’s $150 million deal with that company in 2008. It includes a record label, music publishing division and a growing roster of artists under management, including Rihanna, Shakira, Timbaland, M.I.A. and Kylie Minogue.

    As part of the deal, Rihanna will also extend her recording contract with Universal.

    Jay-Z’s own albums had long come out through Def Jam — he was president of the label for several years in the mid-2000s — but after starting Roc Nation, his latest solo album, “The Blueprint 3,” was released through a distribution arrangement with Atlantic.

    “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 said in a statement. “I look forward to a long and prosperous collaboration with U.M.G. It feels good to be home.”

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