Hey! Congrats to the LA Rams but more importantly, let’s talk about that halftime show. I watched it again this morning just to relive it.
Earlier this week, I told the Wall Street Journal that this show felt like Roc Nation’s course correction after that Atlanta-based Super Bowl in 2019 featured Maroon 5 as the headliner. No disrespect to Adam Levine, but the NFL missed an opportunity to pay homage to Atlanta’s legacy in R&B, hip-hop, and soul. Jay Z and Roc Nation weren’t gonna let that opportunity slip by in LA.
It also felt special to see Dr. Dre up there. Last year this time, he was recovering from a brain aneurysm. Yesterday he was on the biggest stage there is, in his city, and in his element as the architect behind one of the most iconic sounds in music. It was $7 million well spent (which is the same amount of money that Coinbase spent on that QR code ad!)
Loved that 50 Cent came through. The 46-year-old has gotten trolled for trying to relive his 2003 glory with that upside-down entrance. The jokes about 50 felt like lovable karma for a man who built his career from trolling people.
Kendrick Lamar delivered on the big stage as he always does. It was great to see Mary J. Blige come back to the Super Bowl stage and get to sing her own songs this time. Plus, Dre still snuck in that “still not loving police” line in “Still D.R.E.” and Eminem still kneeled to pay respect to Colin Kaepernick.
It was also great to see a Super Bowl halftime ensemble show that felt like a combination of artists who makes sense together in an actual. In 2001, Aerosmith sang “Walk This Way” with Britney Spears, *NSYNC, and Mary J. Blige, while Nelly slid in quick mid-verse talking about “I’m a sucker for cornrows and manicured toes.”
We’ve come a loooooooooong way.
Today’s memo is about the Super Bowl performer who had the biggest week of all, Snoop Dogg. He bought the storied record label he helped create and dropped an album to celebrate the moment. We also have a new Trapital Podcast interview with music exec Tuma Busa. Let’s dive in.
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How Snoop Dogg Maximized His Super Bowl Moment
The Super Bowl is all about maximizing the moment, and no one did that better than Snoop Dogg. The 50-year-old mogul has acquired the Death Row Records brand from MNRK Music Group, which is controlled by global investment firm Blackstone. According to Bloomberg and SPIN, the deal will soon include the catalog of Death Row’s music.
In most of these recent catalog deals, the legacy artist sells to a music investment firm or a record label. The artist takes the check, and then the company reaps the future rewards. But in this scenario, the artist who helped make that catalog will buy it outright. That’s special.
Snoop has wanted to be a label exec for some time now. In a December 2021 GQ interview with Elliott Wilson, Snoop said that he first tried to become Death Row Records CEO to take over music, merch, catalog, re-release music, documentaries, and do his life story. But when that didn’t initially happen, he approached Universal Music Group about the Def Jam CEO position that was open at the time. Snoop said UMG CEO Sir Lucian Grainge tried to discourage him from taking over because “this shit over here is a mess.” But after the third meeting, Snoop agreed to become an executive creative consultant and lead Def Jam West.
Death Row has plenty of monetary value with its classic albums, but Snoop isn’t driven by that. He makes more than enough from his brand partnerships, investing, media appearances, cannabis ventures, live shows, and his back catalog. But now, he can bring his dreams to life without answering to a major record label.
I’ll be patiently waiting for that documentary on the 1995 Source Awards!
Back on Death Row
To celebrate the moment, Snoop dropped a new album on his newly-acquired label on Friday called B.O.D.R. Snoop’s new music may not top the Billboard charts, but as I wrote recently in my Spotify essay, it’s short-sighted to solely judge an album’s commercial success on the streams or “album-equivalent units” it sold for several reasons.
First, Snoop is not doing this for the money. He loves making music and being “Uncle Snoop” to the younger generation. Second, established acts and older artists can do much better with higher-end merch sales (e.g. Griselda), live shows, and NFTs.
As part of B.O.D.R’s release, Snoop released a Stash Box NFT collection in collaboration with Gala Music, a decentralized record company. He released 25,000 NFTs for $5,000 each (16,208 still available as of publishing). Each NFT includes one of the 17 tracks as an NFT. Owners who get all 17 tracks will be invited to private events, potential BBQs at Snoop’s house, a commemorative chain, other VIP benefits.
If we assume that the other 8,792 NFTs have already been purchased for $5,000 each, then that’s nearly $44 million in revenue generated from Snoop’s Stash Box NFTs that went on sale on Friday! The terms are undisclosed, but even if we conservatively assume Snoop’s cut is 50%, that’s still a tremendous payout. Do you know how many streams, merch sales, and concert tickets it would take to generate $44 million?! I’m not even gonna bother calculating.
It’s also a great way for Snoop to segment his superfans. He may not launch an NFT like this with every future album. But if there’s any week in his career to launch a project like this, it was this week.
Snoop’s strategy as the head of Death Row
The financial success of this project could also set the tone for the type of artists that Snoop attracts to Death Row. Today, most hip-hop labels are optimized to maximize performance on Spotify and the digital streaming providers. Those labels attract artists who look up to Gunna, Lil’ Baby, and want to be where they are someday.
But Snoop’s move with NFTs is a different game. He can attract the same type of artists who have signed to Roc Nation’s record label this past decade: the Generation X, late millennial artists who still have plenty of lifelong fans.
The past few years have been great for hip-hop’s middle-aged MCs. We’ve had Verzuz battles, Grammy award-winning albums, and a legendary Super Bowl performance. And now, Snoop can be one of the few record label executives who can serve these artists and their fans.
Read more about Death Row Records in Trapital’s 2019 essay that breaks down the initial rise and fall of the label: Why Death Row Records Was Bound to Self Destruct.