The Breakdown of Drake’s Record Deal with Cash Money/Universal

Canadian hip hop superstar Drake

Canadian hip hop superstar Drake

I’ll be the first to admit that I was disappointed when I found out Drake signed with Young Money/Cash Money.

Nothing against Cash Money but they have a horrible reputation with handling artists’ money. Cash Money drove away the Hot Boys (Juvenile, BG, and Turk) and Mannie Fresh–the producer who single-handedly built the sound of Cash Money Records–because of alleged financial mismanagement. Sorry, but if four different dudes leave your label for the same reason then something fishy is definitely going on.

Needless to say, I was skeptical that Drake would get a good deal signing with Young Money. After reading an L.A. Times Music Blog article detailing the mechanics of Drake’s deal, my skepticism has been put to rest. I’m actually pretty impressed.

Here’s the breakdown of Drake’s record deal:

  • Drake is signed with Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money Records and is distributed by Universal
  • Drake got a $2 million advance (I’ll give you a moment to read that again)
  • Drake retains the publishing rights to his songs and only pays 25% of his music sales revenues to the label as a “distribution fee”

As you can see, Drake got a helluva deal. It’s one of the most lucrative deals I’ve seen recently, especially for a hip hop artist. This deal is a complete reversal of a typical record deal where the label earns the lion’s share of record sales and the artist struggles for years to get out of his/her financial debt to the label.

$2 million is a big advance to pay back but considering that Drake’s first album Thank Me Later will probably be the best-selling R&B/hip hop album next year, I don’t think he’ll have much trouble clearing his debt.

Major props to Drake’s management team (Hip Hop Since 1978 and Cortez Bryant) for negotiating a fair deal for their client. Cortez Bryant also manages Lil Wayne and Hip Hop Since 1978 represents Kanye West. Clearly Drake has a great group in his corner. With that kind of backing, Drake’s career is only just beginning.

Lesson for the Day

Here’s the lesson I want you to take from Drake’s record deal:

Record labels do not control the music industry anymore. Artists (once they have proven their talent and profit potential) are in a position to strike the kind of deal that fits their goals and their vision. Drake proved his profit potential with the 600,000+ digital sales of his single “Best I Ever Had”, which was available for free (on his mixtape So Far Gone) four to five months before it was released on iTunes.

Essentially Drake hired his record labels (Universal/Young Money/Cash Money/Aspire) to distribute his music in stores. Drake’s record labels do not own the masters to his music and they do not control his career, he does (with help from his management team, of course).

Obviously Drake did not sign the first deal that was offered to him. If he did he would have regretted it and he never would have gotten the spectacular deal he has now.

You might not have Drake’s management team but you do have common sense.

With that in mind, would you sign a recording contract that leaves you with 0-50% ownership of YOUR masters and YOUR publishing rights? Would you sign a deal that says you only earn 10-18% of YOUR record sales? Would you sign a 360 deal that allows your record label to automatically earn 50% or more of YOUR touring, merchandising, and film/TV licensing revenues?


But you know what? All of those things I mentioned come standard in a typical record contract. The powers-that-be in the music industry set this whole system up in their favor, not yours. But while their minds were busy focused on screwing artists (that’s you!), they forgot one important little detail:

Record labels need you–you don’t need them. No record label can operate without an artist roster (or at least a catalog of past hits). What can a record label do if they have no arists to market and no music to sell?

See how badly they need you?

With the internet (and a little bit of money to invest in your future) you have all the tools you need to record, distribute, and promote your music. So why would you ever pay a record label over 75% of the record sales for songs/albums you write?

Be smart. Don’t do it.

Alright students I hope you’ve learned your lesson for the day. Now go out, be independent and make some music!


Dexter Bryant Jr. (DbryJ)
DbryJ Music Media


The L.A. Times Music Blog


  1. Pingback: The Breakdown of Drake’s Record Deal with Cash Money/Universal | Fashion e Music Blog
    • tuu · August 24, 2010

      He knew what he had and they knew they didn’t want him to go to another label or the fool was on tv before this man. the da grassi high school series. he already had hype in the industry but the tv industry. man tell it all………

    • azzam · July 2, 2012

      whats good i am a arab from overseaz tryin to get intoch with drake or little wayne my name is azzam u can call me hakkeeemmm i am 22 years old i am tryin to let my name get known i have people looking at me i am from peoria people are jeaules spelling i give u a hint i am a starter cartel mob action me starter edge point me there whats good smokin light up and smoke it uptown my town wayne is cold my rab is a rap battle starter which one first i have begun while drake is shoulderleean holdin a gun glocking skeee skkeee mother fuckers am going there outdoor indoor verse my speechable yes sir i just starter thats one of mine a hint i need ur help i am trying to come to dade count cashmoney records i can write alot of subject books i am a arab from middle east

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  4. Pingback: Details About Drake’s Deal w/ Young Money/Universal | The Real Frequency
  5. MAJA & COJACK · August 24, 2009


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  9. Chance Brown · December 18, 2009

    I just want to say i been following the whole cash money, young money, dirty money group. Yall doin yall thing but why wayne and kid kid havin those problems yall need to come together and settle that shit ya dig!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. B · March 27, 2010

    Yo what up dexter JR. Why would u be afraid for Drakes decision when there is a total different management now then it was then? if you want to post shit, do your research b/c you sound like a dumbass. Ever since new management came into play Cash Money/Young Money records have been better than ever. You talking off shit that happened 7 years ago.

  12. d.BRYJ Music · March 28, 2010

    Not only was I talking off shit from years ago with the Hot Boys but I also considered that Drake, Wayne, and Nicki are the only artists on the label who are popular right now (if you don’t count Jay Sean). Maybe that will change in the future, who knows.

    Drake has a great management team. Wayne has a great management team. Does the rest of Young Money have equally great management representation? If they don’t then they’ll find it a lot harder to make moves than it’s been for Drake and Wayne.

  13. לי · May 8, 2010

    שיייייכפררע עליוו , נסיייך שלי (:

  14. Fattraks · June 23, 2010

    Great Article, how can I Retweet?

  15. destiny montalza · July 3, 2010

    hi drake

  16. Austin · December 29, 2010

    I love drake and lil wayne :PPPPPPP

  17. Austin · December 29, 2010

    dude you should get this website seperated from wordpress and get advertisments YOUR SO GOOD AT WRITING STUFF LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP

    • d.BRYJ Music · December 30, 2010

      oMG thank yOU!

      When we do get our full website it’ll be efffiN schweeet! Its gonna happen. Will take some time tho. You kno we schemin how to make it the most awesome place in the world 2 listen to music and learn about music 😛

  18. Ashley · December 29, 2010

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  36. how can i talk to cortez Bryant · October 29, 2014

    I have a group out of Oakland california, the name of my group is vebal assassinz their under big country records. These guy has been doing music for over 10 year,very talented. Thats why i need to talk with Cortez Bryant, mybe he could help us with distribution of our up coming album?

  37. bigbuji · February 16, 2015

    Reblogged this on Big Buji and commented:
    No need to pennies on the dollar for your music, Drake’s Deal Details

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  39. Pingback: Drake's Perfect Timing - The Network Music ConferenceThe Network Music Conference
  40. Alexandra Michalle · June 25, 2015

    Does somebody know how many years is the contract with Cash Money Records because I’m moving to Atlanta next year and I’m really confused ?

  41. Black Tarzan · July 19, 2015

    Hello Alexandra!
    Drake’s contract with Cash Money Records has been fulfilled. His contract stipulated a 4-album deal, and earlier this year he released IF YOU’RE READING THIS IT’S TOO LATE, which qualifies as album #4.

    Read this article if you want to find out more:

  42. Danny · August 18, 2015

    So you think Cash Money Records really stiffing their artist lol then why is it that people still signing and doing business with them? CMR got good brains behind the company, don’t be fooled by what you hearing. CMR been here for 20+ years while others come and go!

    • Black Tarzan · August 18, 2015

      Yeah bro Cash Money fucks over their artists. That’s why Drake dipped and that’s why Wayne in a dispute wit Birdman now. The reason the label stay around is cuz they know how to make money, they aint dumb. But that label does not have its artists best interests in mind cuh. They all about the money

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