Earlier this month, Forbes released its Most Powerful Sports Agents rankings, complete with a list of estimated commission for the contracts their clients signed. It’s no surprise to see who is at the top—it’s mostly powerful agents in the realm of international soccer, figures like Jonathan Barrett whose commissions totaled approximately $128 million, thanks to $1.3 billion worth of contracts signed in the last year.
Going down the list, you’ll see lots of familiar names: Scott Boras, Jeff Schwartz, Casey Close, all power agents who’ve been presiding over major sports deals for decades. But it’s in the 20s where it gets interesting.
A few years back, rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z started his own sports agency, Roc Nation Sports. It was a savvy and opportunistic decision, owing to the changing landscape of the agency business. It required Jay-Z to sell his stake in the Brooklyn Nets—a stake he got at a discount—as he planned on pursuing certification as a sports agent.
That arrangement, five years down the line, is becoming increasingly lucrative. On a list filled with career talent agents, Jay-Z ranks 24th in commissions with $29.8 million, owing to around $963 million worth of business by Roc Nation. Notably, Rich Paul—the agent and power broker who has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated—is only a few slots higher at Jay-Z, at number 21.
Each league has a different cap on how much commission can be extracted from a contract—the MLB and FIFA have higher commission rates than the NBA and the NFL—and by having multiple clients across sports, Jay-Z is raking and only getting more popular as an agent.
With the omnipresence of social media, athletes, in general, are more conscious of their career prospects, and who best to steer them. Athletes are moving away from bigger, older talent firms, and trusting people in their purview. Jay-Z, one of the most famous musicians on the planet, is one of the new landscape’s greatest success stories.