Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter & Beyoncé Knowles
Want to talk power? Less than a week after her birth, Jay-Z and Beyonce's daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, made history as the youngest person to appear on a Billboard chart when Jay-Z's "Glory,"  which features their newborn's cooing (Blue is credited as B.I.C.), hit Hot R&B-Hip Hop Songs. The song marked Jay's 107th entry on Billboard's charts, adding just one more record to the power couple's already record-breaking career. Separately the stats are staggering: Jay-Z holds the record for most No. 1 albums by a solo artist in Billboard history-12-and has sold more than 28 million albums in his 15-year solo career, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (A number that climbs to 33 million if you count his collaborations with Kanye West, R. Kelly and Linkin Park.)
Beyonce, who started out in Destiny's Child before going solo in 2003, has cumulative sales of more than 29 million, according to SoundScan (17 million with Destiny's Child; 12 million solo). She has sent all four of her solo albums to the top of the Billboard 200, and scored nine No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Beyonce is also a successful actress, with roles in "Austin Powers: Goldmember," "Pink Panther" and Academy Award winner "Dreamgirls," and an in-demand face for branding. Recent multimillion-dollar deals include L'Oreal, Coty and Target. And clothing line House of Dereon has an international presence.
Jay-Z, meanwhile, is one of the most celebrated and successful businessmen to emerge from entertainment. As a record exec he's helped launch the careers of Kanye West, Rihanna and J. Cole. He's served as CEO of Def Jam Records (a job he took largely because it allowed him to assume control of the masters of his earlier recordings with the label) and, in 2008, brokered a deal with Live Nation said to be worth $150 million to create Roc Nation, a management, music and entertainment company with a roster that includes Rihanna, Cole, Willow Smith and Ester Dean. His interests outside of music (Rocawear, Translation Advertising and stakes in 40/40 Club and the New Jersey Nets) have grabbed headlines and fed the bottom line. His recent collaboration with West, Watch the Throne, shot to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last August and sold out U.S. arenas through the second half of 2011 to earn more than $20 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.
But it's not just about what Jay-Z and Beyonce have done, but who they are: American icons and cultural institutions, globally recognizable superstars who count billionaire Warren Buffett and Will Smith as family friends. And with the birth of Blue Ivy, they've added a new superstar on the team.
Order the special edition Billboard Power 100 issue,  printed on glossy stock with lavish original photography (available now).
What do you think of the 2012 Billboard Power 100? Sound off in the comments area of the Letter From the Editor page , where the criteria is explained.