Jay-Z, Beyonce, U2, Lady Gaga Rank on Billboard Power 100 List
Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell Also Impact List
You may not know Irving Azoff by face, or even by name, but rest assured that the chairman of Live Nation -- the world's largest promoter, ticketing company and artist management group -- is the most powerful person in the music industry. Azoff topped the first-ever Billboard Power 100 list, a ranking of where power and influence resides in the music business and the industries that intersect with it. While most of the executives on the list are behind-the-scenes power players like Azoff, there are 11 names that even casual music fans will instantly recognize.
The power couple of Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and Beyonce Knowles is ranked collectively at No. 13 on the list. As artists, both have enjoyed remarkable successes: He holds the record for the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, topping that chart with 12 albums and selling 28 million units in the U.S. along the way, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while she has racked up sales of more than 29 million units from sales of her solo albums and as part of Destiny's Child.
Billboard Power 100
But the Billboard Power 100 list is about more than album and ticket sales; the artists featured are all actively involved in making impactful business decisions for their careers. In the case of Beyonce, she has recently been behind multi-million-dollar branding deals with L'Oreal, Coty and Target, and her clothing line House of Dereon continues to boast an international presence. Meanwhile, Jay-Z is one of the most celebrated artists to make the jump from the stage to the boardroom. He served as CEO of Def Jam Records 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, J. 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 also grabbed headlines and helped to feed his bottom line.
Moving from hip-hop to rock, U2 and their manager Paul McGuinness rank at No. 27 on the list. According to Billboard Boxscore, U2's 360° tour grossed $736,421,586, earning it a place in the record books as the most successful concert tour in history. It's a feat not likely to be matched anytime soon.
Singer/songwriters Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Martin Karl "Max Martin" Sandberg are ranked at nos. 30 and 83 respectively. Both have written and produced seemingly more hits than anybody else in the last seven years. Their credits separately and together include chart-toppers recorded by Katy Perry, P!nk, Adam Lambert, Avril Lavigne, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Taio Cruz, Ke$ha, Backstreet Boys and Miley Cyrus.
Since 2000, Bon Jovi -- the biggest self-managed music act in the world -- has sold 13 million tickets and grossed nearly $1 billion at the box office (according to Billboard Boxscore). Not only does frontman Jon Bon Jovi, who ranks at no. 50, take the helm onstage, he runs the business of the band behind the scenes as well. Those who work with the New Jersey native tout his drive and business instincts nearly as often as his songs and vocal chops.
"American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest comes in at No. 64, largely for his syndicated, daily Clear Channel radio show "On Air," heard in more than 150 markets, his eight-plus-year run as host of "American Top 40" and his production company at NBC Universal. Potentially most significant to Seacrest's power is his new alliance with well-known businessman Mark Cuban, Creative Artists Agency and AEG to reshape HDNet into a new pop network (slated to called AXS TV) that will cater to pop-culture and entertainment enthusiasts.
Lorne Michaels (no. 66) reigns as the executive producer of "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Lately, "SNL" has played a role in the recent successes of artists like Nicki Minaj, the Black Keys and Arcade Fire, and millions tuned in for the show's Christmas episode with Michael Bublé. Meanwhile, "Fallon" has given star-turns to up-and-coming acts like Odd Future and Bon Iver, and the show has devoted entire weeks to celebrating the music of iconic bands such as Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, becoming the musical juggernaut of late-night TV.
Coming in at no. 78, Taylor Swift, who owns her own management company, has become a branding powerhouse as well as a chart-topping singer and songwriter. Her deals include a retail partnership with Target, a multimillion-dollar ad campaign and tour sponsorship with CoverGirl, a fragrance with Elizabeth Arden and a relationship with Sony Electronics. She has also designed her own clothing line for Walmart, appeared in ads for the National Hockey League and co-created her own doll, to boot.
Likewise, Lady Gaga (no. 84) has more going for her than music sales. Gaga, who is actively involved in her career decisions, seems to revolutionize everything she touches. Specifically, as her 18.4 million Twitter followers can attest, the Mother Monster has turned the idea of social marketing on its head; without her Little Monsters, there would be no Beliebers for Justin Bieber or Barbs for Nicki Minaj. Gaga's influence with fans has been entirely transformed through her branding deals. When Virgin Mobile sponsored her tour, for example, she worked the company into the show itself by way of a nightly phone call to a fan in the audience. Gaga also serves as the creative director for the Polaroid Grey Label and made a headline-grabbing presentation for the line at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.
Rounding out the list, Simon Cowell comes in at No. 100. With "American Idol" behind him, Cowell's "X Factor" flexed its muscles in 2011, launching five finalists from the British show's seventh season as potential global artists and landing the show on the air in the United States. Cowell's involvement in televised music competitions makes them ratings successes, and his combination of taste, honesty and snark makes people in the desirable 18-34 demo tune in week after week.