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When Drake Makes Moves Like LeBron James

The Certified Lover Boy‘s new wide-ranging, long-term deal with Universal Music Group is reportedly “LeBron-sized.”

“Shit done changed, billionaires talk to me different when they see my paystub from Lucian Grainge.”

Drake rapped that line on the 2021 Culture III smash from Migos, “Having Our Way.” And man was that on the money, no pun intended. It wasn’t the first time he’s rapped about Universal Music Group’s CEO Sir Lucian Grainge however.

As Drizzy spat in a feature on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’” in 2012: “Tell Lucian I said ‘fuck it,’ I’m tearin’ holes in my budget.”

Indeed, the budgets may have holes in ’em, but Aubrey Graham’s pockets overfloweth. The Grammy-winning quadruple-platinum artist has now entered into a one-of-a-kind, multi-faceted deal with UMG as confirmed on a company earnings call this week.

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The expansive deal encompasses Drake’s recordings, publishing, merchandise, and visual media projects. As relayed in an exclusive Variety story by an industry insider, it’s “LeBron-sized” due to Drake’s wielding power in the music market; one estimate pegged the deal as being worth approximately $400 million.

This comes on the heels of UMG’s announcement just last week of a precedent-setting partnership with The Weeknd that promises to be far, far more than just a record deal.

But today, this OVOXO reunion could end up revolutionizing UMG on a GOAT-level scale. The Weeknd’s run to superstardom is impressive and undeniable, but Drake still remains THE boy from their shared home city of Toronto who does it the biggest. His cultural influence and industry impact is, well… universal.

Look no further than his most recent album, Certified Lover Boy, and its impressive first-week metrics. The release racked up almost 744 million streams in the United States and broke Spotify’s record for most streams in a single day, as noted by the New York Times.

CLB then debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 613,000 sales, per MRC Data. Up to that point in 2021, that was more than any title since Billboard disqualified sales that bundle music with merch or tickets. And this doesn’t even mention Drake becoming the first artist to surpass 50 billion combined streams on Spotify last year. Since becoming eligible for the charts back in 2014, he has moved over 37 million project units as a whole.

This brings us back to a central question: Is Drake’s new deal truly “LeBron-sized,” or is that a gleeful overstatement?

Consider that King James’ legacy as a future billionaire mogul goes far beyond his earnings on the court. Likewise, Drake has already built an impressive network of business ventures, including his OVO record label imprint, OVO streetwear line, Nike footwear and apparel deal, and his recently launched “Better World Fragrance” luxury candle company.

(And not for nothing, he’s he’s a good few months younger than LeBron.)

Big talents want to join big-market teams. Right on cue, Universal Media Group reported a 21.6% revenue increase in the first quarter of 2022, including a 32.5% jump in music publishing revenue and an 11.3% increase in recorded-music revenue. Meanwhile, merchandising and other revenues were up a whopping 69.8%.

All this before Drake actually gets started working his typical magic.

And this is all possible because Drake’s leverage and overall impact as a market-mover might just be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. With that in mind, perhaps the only sort of people we ought to be comparing him to are the LeBrons of the world.

As Drizzy said on 2019’s “Omerta,” “I wish that I was playin’ in a sport where we were gettin’ rings / I wouldn’t have space on either hand for anything.” Clearly, he meant what he said.

Because Drake’s moving like LeBron James now.

Get a courtside seat while you can.

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