Aubrey Drake Graham—aka Drizzy — is a Canadian rap artist and entrepreneur. He lives in a 35,000 sq ft (32.52 a) Mega estate in Toronto and drives a flashy Rolls-Royce from his $8.8 million car collection.
He buys houses on a whim and throws extravagant parties now and then. He even commissions a diamond necklace after each breakup as a reminder of his past relationships.
Fans await in anticipation for months of his new albums and drove in flocks to his concerts. He draws people with his unique music style and stirs the crowd with his brilliant stage performances.
He is one of the most popular Hip Hop singers and rates among the wealthiest men in Canada.
Remarkably enough, he hasn’t inherited all that fortune and influence from his family.
He has amassed his wealth with his music, grit, and business savviness.
This case study offers insight into Drake’s professional life. It covers his career start, business growth, and accomplishments to share valuable lessons on entrepreneurship.
Drake was born in Toronto into a working-class family.
He got his passion for singing from his father Dennis Graham (Drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis and singer) and chose a similar path for his career as he reached his late teens.
He released his first mixtape in 2006 and hit the billboard chart repeatedly with his following albums, catching the attention of record labels and global brands. He made a lot of money with album sales, tours, appearances, and endorsements.
Over the years, he won four Grammys, 188 other awards, 47 nominations, and the title of “Artist of the Decade.” He also invested in several business ventures and co-partnered with national brands to expand his reach.
At present, his net worth is $260 million, and his monthly income is $4 million.
Despite being musically inclined, Drake didn’t start out as a singer initially.
When he was five, his parents separated, taking him from his childhood home to Forest Hill and a challenging early life. As a son of a struggling single mother whose paycheck supported the entire family, he had limited options back then and a little luxury to indulge in his dreams.
He also had trouble fitting in because of his diverse background.
“My mother happens to be a Jewish woman. She wanted the best for her family. She found us half of a house we could live in. It was not big. It was not luxurious. It was what we could afford.”—Drake’s Interview with GQ.
Soon, his interests turned to Hokey, and he quickly earned his way toward Canada College hockey camp. He was an aspiring right winger with a promising career in sports until a neck injury forced him to leave the industry for good.
While it was the end of his sports dream, it was the beginning of something else.
At 15, he received an offer to work as an actor in a Canadian Teen series, Degrassi—The Next Generation. Drake immediately dropped out of school to grab the opportunity.
While he didn’t feel connected to his character, Jimmy Brooks, he stayed with the show for seven years to contribute to the family.
“My mother was very sick. We were very poor, like broke. The only money I had coming in was from Canadian TV.”
During that period, he invested his spare time in recording music and self-released his first mixtape called “Room for Improvement.”
He sold only 6000 copies and generated some $304 in royalties, but it kick-started the journey of his music career.
The turning point in Drake’s career came in 2008 when he attracted the attention of an influential American rapper, Lil Wayne, through a mutual acquaintance. After listening to a few tracks, Lil Wayne invited Drake on his tour and later offered him a deal with his label, Young Money.
“This man believed in me after so many never called again or just didn’t see it to begin with.” — He said on Instagram.
By 2010, Drake was already making headlines, selling thousands of copies within weeks of each new release. The “Thank Me Later” was his top-performing album, and “Take care” was termed as an “affecting masterpiece,” It brought him a Grammy Award and a strong fan base.
“I’m always going to work like I have something to prove.”—Drake.
Drake’s career success is majorly attributed to his creative promotional tactics, various partnerships, and of course, his music.
One good example is his 2013 album “Nothing was the Same” which he promoted throughout the year with the “Would You Like a Tour?” campaign, generating over $46 million from sales.
He not only racked up millions with this tactic, but he also gained business opportunities, one of which was the Toronto Raptors affiliation.
“Today’s probably one of the best days of my life. I got to throw on the suit and be announced as the global ambassador of the Toronto Raptors.”—Drake.
It was one of his most lucrative partnerships that mutually helped both parties.
With each new album release, Drake’s continued to grow at a fast pace.
2015 was entitled the Year of Drake because of his consistent content generation, and 2021 saw all three of his singles in the top three. His “Certified Lover Boy” is one of Spotify’s most streamed albums, and his recent collaboration with 21 Savage is already making waves in social media.
Over the years, Drake also worked with several celebrities, like Rihanna, Nicki Minhaj, and Rick Ross Some alliances were made to gain publicity while some were created to strengthen connections.
One such example is his partnership with Lil Wayne.
Drake was Lil Wayne’s protégé for a long time and remained his close friend to date. Both connected on shared interests and have repeatedly appeared in each other music videos.
Drake’s Major Sources of Income
Drake has an impressive list of notable accomplishments. Since his appearance in Degrassi, he achieved significant milestones, from rising to stardom and breaking influential artists’ records to winning hundreds of awards and earning honorific titles.
But while his albums are his core products, he built his wealth from multiple income streams.
Below is the list of his major revenue generation sources;
Tours and concerts are classic side revenue streams for singers and music artists. They bring them a lot of exposure and open doors to new business opportunities. They also provide a major chunk of income each year.
Drake makes around $1 million dollars from each show. He started his first tour “Away from Home” in 2016 and has done eight tours so far.
His most profitable concerts were “Sweet Sixteen” and “Aubrey & the Three Migos” which involved 52 and 54 shows, respectively. He earned an average of $53 million each from both tours.
He is now planning another tour in 2023 but hasn’t revealed the details yet.
What’s remarkable about this income stream is the gradual growth in revenue. While Drake may be earning millions from this channel, he initially started it with $100 per performance.
He now enjoys performing on stage and receives both monetary and non-monetary rewards from it. In his words, “It’s like one thing to make the music, but to see it is the most gratifying feeling.”
Endorsements and Partnerships
Drake has accumulated millions from lucrative endorsement deals and contracts with popular brands.
In 2015, he signed a $19 million contract with Apple for iTunes Radio and followed it up by a $100 million contract with Nike’s subsidiary Jordan, which later expanded into a sub-label Nocta.
He also teamed up with Sprite in his early career and was featured in a global Ad campaign, Spark.
One of his best collaborations was with Cargo line Cargojet. In a bid to support local businesses, he signed a partnership deal with Cargojet and received a free private plane worth $185 million in return.
Streaming on Third-Party Platforms
A Music artist, on average, generates around $4 to $5 per 1000 streams. On the surface, it seems a paltry amount. But when your song crosses a million, you begin to see the real money. That’s exactly how Drake makes money from streaming.
Apple, Spotify, and other third-party streaming platforms contribute to the major part of his income. He has acquired an estimated $100 million from on-demand streaming, not to mention royalties from other sites.
His Scorpion album reached 1 billion streams across all platforms in the first week alone. The God plan received 1.4 billion views on YouTube, while Certified Lover Boy was played 700 million times on Spotify.
Other Business Ventures
Besides his music career, Drake has launched various business ventures to diversify his portfolio. He created his production company to pursue filmmaking, branched out to retail business to sell merchandise, and invested in Stake Casino to expand his reach to crypto.
Some of his companies, like More Life Growth, went under before they could take shape, but a few grew into successful businesses.
Here are five of his noteworthy achievements;
OVO — October’s Very Own — is one of Drake’s earliest ventures. He started it in 2006 as a blog to self-release his first mixtape. After his third album “Nothing Was the Same” hit the market, he collaborated with Noah Shebib (Music Producer) and Oliver El-Khatib (Producer) to officialize the label.
He also teamed up with Roots Canada and launched the OVO clothing line in 2011, which later evolved into a premium retail store.
The last recorded annual income of OVO label was $50 million.
OVO Sound Radio is an audio program that Drake along with his business partner Oliver El-Khatib started on Apple in 2015. With this move, he captured a new market and built an exclusive place to share his tracks, album updates, guest interviews, and other interests. The channel ran on Apple Music for three years before the contract ended in 2018.
Shortly after, Drake made the deal with another company, SiriusXM, and re-launched his own radio channel.
Today, OVO Sound Radio is dedicatedly aired on his station Sound 42, providing round-the-clock access to his music and news.
When it comes to business, Drake has an uncanny sense of detecting opportunities. His Virginia Black is the result of one such moment.
In collaboration with DeLeón Tequila owner Brent Hocking, he started his Whiskey brand in 2016, using tours and digital media as his promotional channels for the pre-launch. He sold around 30k cases within a year and quickly expanded its sale to other states.
Virginia Black Whiskey is now available in several countries, including Canada, the UK, and UAE.
You probably have already read about it above, but Drake’s alliance with the Canadian Basketball team is worth mentioning again.
In 2013, Drake became the global ambassador of Toronto Raptor to uplift the struggling franchise’s reputation with his influence. The publicity helped the team revive its image and gave Drake a completely new market to target.
He later capitalized on his partnership to promote his clothing line and record label.
In 2017, Drake co-founded the production company with his manager Adel Nur to publish sports documentaries and drama series. His films were aired on major distributors like Netflix, and his HBO series Euphoria won 11 awards.
The company has grown so much it plans to invest $100 million to bring back the long-lost art amusement park Luna Luna.
In one of his recent interviews, Drake also hinted at returning to acting. If that happens, this might end up being another point in his list of achievements.
Conclusion—Drake Has Earned his Stardom with persistence and Business Acumen
Drake might be a megastar and super successful businessman now, but he has earned that place by pushing himself from the bottom, working hard for his career, and facing business challenges head-on.
Throughout his career, he faced many struggles and controversies that threatened to hurt his reputation.
From something as small as using Vogue without permission to sampling Jimmy Smith’s Rap, he was repeatedly sued for royalties, defamation claims, and copyright infringement.
But while each challenge left a negative imprint on his reputation, it didn’t deter him from reaching his goals. He passed every hurdle with reasoning and responded to public discouragement with “I love you. I go by the name of Drake.”
His music alone made such a tremendous impact on society that Toronto University decided to introduce “Deconstructing Drake and Weeknd” as an academic course.
With his talent, savviness, and confidence, Drake stayed on the top and raised multiple businesses.
“It’s never too late to realize what you want in your life and it’s never wrong to fight for it.” –Drake.