Top 5 Greatest Agents in Music
Ever wondered who has been the best at making deals in the music industry? Some artists have average or even inferior deals with record companies and therefore don’t make the money that could make had they hired better managers, agents, and representation. Below I have assembled the top 5 best negotiators in popular music in the last 25 years.
Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas trio started their careers by performing conscious rap in front of a live band. After being signed to Interscope Records and releasing their debut, Behind the Front (1998) the group peaked at 129 on Billboards top albuns, earning only moderate acclaim. Their second album, Bridging the Gap, hit 67; neither album hit platinum or even gold.
The groups new manager decided to add female member Fergie to the group and change the groups style. Elephunk was the first album that demonstrated the new, polished pop sound designed to attract mass audiences. Although the group was founded on b-boying underground hip-hop, it was not until the release of Elephunk that they achieved high record sales. Since that time, the group has sold an estimated 76 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling groups of all time. The Black Eyed Peas were the second-best-selling artist/group of all time for downloaded tracks, with over 42 million sales as of the end of 2011. Undeniably, the manager’s smart decision to add Fergie and change up the groups style proved to be paramount in the groups turnaround towards success.
Jones released his first album in a group called Souf Folk. In 2001, Jones formed his own independent record label, Ice Age Entertainment, and began solo rapping. He independently (and without much success) self-promoted and distributed his music on the streets and pressed it on DJs at strip clubs.
Jones eventually signed to upcoming southern record label Swishahouse after meeting an A&R. After linking up with this management, Jones initiated a “Who Am I? Mike Jones!” campaign and released of his first breakout single “Still Tippin’,” which received lots of radio play. Jones signed a major deal to Jive Records and Warner Bros and quickly released his second single, “Back Then,” which eventually went Platinum. Mike Jones, who only has had only two chart-toping singles, has a net worth of $6 million. It is obvious his manager was exceptional in taking a guy off the street with minimal rap skills and making that guy a platinum selling millionaire.
Green was an original member of the Atlanta hip hop group Goodie Mob. Goodie Mob released their debut album, Soul Food, in 1995 which barely sold over 500,000 units. The group’s second album, Still Standing, came out in 1998; Its commercial performance, however was lower than the group’s previous effort.
In 1999, during the making of the album World Party, Green left the group to pursue a solo career under Arista. After multiple flopped albums during his solo career, Green hired a different agent and teamed up with Danger Mouse to form the soul duo Gnarls Barkley; his career finally took flight. The single “Crazy” became hit and topped various singles charts worldwide. Ceelo currently has a net worth of 22 million all due to his career resurrected by his ingenious music agent.
Chamillionaire arguable had the best music manager in history, especially given the small body of work that is attributed to his great success. He began his career independently with local releases in 2002, but never achieved any real success. With the help of his manager, he somehow landed a record deal with Universal where released the number-one, Grammy-winning hit “Ridin'” featuring Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. This song was and is Chamillionaire’s only popular song in his entire musical career. To date, Chamillionaire has a net worth of $15 million, an amount solely made from this one song. (just as a comparison, Chamillionaire has the same net worth as Robin Thicke, who has multiple grammy’s, Billboard top hits, and successful career).
In 1994, Master P’s mixtape albums gained critically acclaimed success independently after selling an unheard of 250,000 units on the streets. Soon, all the major record companies came calling. Master P and his brilliant agent leveraged his astonishing success as an independent artist by securing an unprecedented deal between No Limit and Priority Records. Not only would No Limit receive a $375,000 advance for every album produced, his contract also stipulated that he would receive 75% of the wholesale price for every album sold, and Master P would own every master recording from his entire roster of artists, including himself. Master P went on to sell millions of albums from various released projects by him and his cronies. In fact, Master P’s label sold more than 20 million albums in 1998 alone. His current net worth is in upwards of $475 million, all because his manager/agent made one of the most extraordinary deals in music history. This deal makes him the best agent in music history, hands down.