Cowboy Capitalist

December 1st, 2012  |  Published in Music



Forbes magazine, 07.15.13 (cover story)
Toby Keith, Cowboy Capitalist: Country’s $500 Million Man
Country superstar Toby Keith has some of the most loyal fans in music. And he owns enough product extensions to make sure they’re also some of the most lucrative. Personal earnings so far: $500 million.


Wu-Tang’s Album Sold By Paddle 8
But to whom?, 10.07.15
The 30 Under 30 Music Festival
Here’s what Shawn Mendes, A$AP Rocky, Lindsey Stirling and Hanson have in common., 09.09.15
Hip-Hop And The Holy Land
Grim challenges and silver linings., 07.29.15
Country’s Martha Stewart
Can Trisha Yearwood become the genre’s lifestyle guru?, 07.29.15
Cowboy Up
How Jason Aldean cashed in on the changing landscape of country., 07.14.15
Taylor Swift And The Rolling Stones
Two shows, two nights, many similarities., 06.29.15
What Jackie Chan Taught Will Smith And Jay Z
Lessons from an unlikely environmentalist.

Forbes magazine, 05.05.15
The Forbes Five 2015
Hip-hop’s wealthiest artists ranked., 04.22.15
Quincy Jones On EDM
“If they handle it right, it won’t be a fad.”

Forbes magazine, 04.15.15
Revenge of the Record Labels
Music’s majors are quietly hijacking the multibillion-dollar digital revolution (written with Nick Messitte), 03.31.15
From Texas To Abu Dhabi
A peek at Migos’ road to riches., 02.26.15
Weird Al’s New Business Plan
After the most successful album of his life, no more albums., 02.18.15
Chris Martin’s Bono Moment
How the Coldplay frontman plans to save the world in 15 years., 01.30.15
Katy Perry’s Free Half-Time Show
Why the superstar diva isn’t getting paid–or paying–for her Super Bowl gig., 01.05.15
The FORBES 30 Under 30 Music list
An inside look at the Class of 2016., 01.05.15
Country Fireball
Exploring the rise of Florida Georgia Line., 12.19.14
Piano Forte
Inside Steinway’s century-spanning business., 11.21.14
A Shot At Patron
Diddy’s DeLeon takes aim at tequila’s top dog., 11.06.14
The Real Story Behind Jay Z’s Champagne Deal
Recent “news” of his stake in Armand de Brignac is nearly a decade old.

ForbesLife magazine, 11.03.14
A Spin With Afrojack
Inside the Dutch DJ’s incredible car collection., 10.30.14
The Last Platinum Album
Why Taylor Swift’s 1989 could be the final million-seller. Like, ever., 09.23.14
Rick Ross, Chicken Boss
How a rapper got his Wingstop., 08.28.14
Writing About Writing About Michael Jackson
What some critics still get wrong., 08.25.14
The Strange Symbiosis Of Kanye West And Taylor Swift
Five years after “I’ma let you finish,” West and Swift are arguably music’s two biggest stars., 07.28.14
The Big Business
…of Florida Georgia Line’s blurred boundaries., 06.02.14
Buying The Beatles
Inside Michael Jackson’s best business bet., 05.06.14
Unlocking Wu-Tang’s Secret Album (and mini-documentary)
A trip to Marrakech yields the first snippet of the record that’s ever been publicly heard., 04.16.14
Smoking Section
Inside Jay Z’s new Cohiba Comador cigar venture., 03.26.14
Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
Why Wu-Tang will release only one copy of its secret album., 03.13.14
Neil Young, Tech Entrepreneur
How Pono Music raised $2 million in two days., 03.13.14
Diddy At SXSW
Highlights of my one-on-one keynote with hip-hop’s wealthiest man.

Forbes magazine, 03.03.14
Golden Oldies
How to become a music publishing mogul., 02.19.14
J. Cole’s World
Jay Z’s first Roc Nation signing is a music mogul in the making., 02.10.14
From Blue To Green
Inside Pharrell’s eco-friendly fashion venture., 02.05.14
Grunge Beatle
How Paul McCartney ended up at a Nirvana reunion.

Forbes magazine, 01.20.14
From Cereal To Super Bowl: The Evolution of Bruno Mars
How the Hawaiian hitmaker went from scraps to the Super Bowl in five years., 10.23.13
Michael Jackson One
The latest piece of a postmortem empire., 09.24.13
Hip-Hop’s Secret Mogul
Tech N9ne is quietly building a musical empire in America’s heartland., 09.24.13
Spinning Profits
How hip-hop is cashing in on the DJ boom.

Forbes magazine, 09.02.13
Sin City’s Latest Savior: Electronic Dance Music (co-written with Ryan Mac)
From shows to theme parks, Las Vegas has always figured out a way to bounce back. The new white knight: million-dollar DJs spinning at mega-nightclubs., 08.14.13
Zedd Ahead
Meet the next big star of electronic music.

ForbesLife magazine, 06.24.13
Rapper’s Delight: Inside 50 Cent’s Car Collection
50 Cent started out as a drug dealer and ended up a rap star. Throughout, there’s been one constant: a love of cars., 06.20.13
Diddy Talks Cable Deal
Will Revolt make him a Billionaire?, 03.18.13
Why Most Acts Don’t Get Paid At SXSW
Machine Gun Kelly, the Lonely Biscuits and Clive Davis explain. Plus: Zack gets drop-kicked by Jack Black.

Forbes magazine, 03.04.13
Moneyball For Music: The Rise of Next Big Sound
Alex White’s Next Big Sound is using advanced statistics to transform a stubborn industry. Sound familiar?, 01.23.13
How To Make A Living In The Modern Music Business
I traveled to Berklee College of Music to find some answers.

Forbes magazine, 01.21.13
All Time High: Wiz Khalifa’s Next Big Step
Can the Pittsburgh-bred rapper make the leap to superstar?

Forbes magazine, 12.24.12
Reaching For A High Note
How Evan Lowenstein went from pop star to startup boss., 12.17.12
30 Under 30: Music
The brightest young stars in the music business.

Forbes magazine, 12.10.12
Invest Like A Star
If you want to manage your money like David Letterman, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, take a lesson from Hollywood money managers David Tracy and Chuck Tharnstrom., 11.28.12
The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians 2012
Fueled by heaving touring and creative business ventures, these are music’s top 25 earners., 11.22.12
Why Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock Won’t Get Paid For Their Thanksgiving Halftime Gigs
It’s an annual trend., 11.16.12
Pharrell Williams’ New Gig: Internet Talk Show Host
The superproducer opens up about his latest venture., 11.08.12
Power Of Music Part III
Emmanuel Jal and the business of peace., 10.24.12
Michael Jackson’s Personal Debts to Be Paid Off By Year’s End
The King of Pop’s postmortem success has secured some of his most prized assets for posterity, 10.24.12
Why Whitney Houston Didn’t Make Forbes’ List Of Top-Earning Dead Celebs
A complex financial web surrounds the late diva., 10.19.12
Power of Music Part II
Lupe Fiasco and the business of “conscious rap.”, 10.16.12
Bigger Than Psy
2NE1 and the business of K-Pop., 10.03.12
Inside Andreessen Horowitz’s $15 Million Rap Genius Investment
The founders of hip-hop’s biggest web hub–and their new backers–open up about a groundbreaking deal., 10.01.12
Power of Music, Part I
Foo Fighters and friends rock Central Park in record-setting charity gig.

ForbesLife magazine, 09.24.12
Hungry to Help
Jon Bon Jovi dishes on his new pay-what-you-can restaurant., 09.10.12
Jay-Z’s Occupy Wall Street Problem
It’s an issue not just for Hov, but for hip-hop on the whole., 09.06.12
Jay-Z’s Review Of The Book I Wrote About Him
A biographer’s first meeting with his subject., 09.04.12
Ludacris Dreams
A rapper diversifies his empire.
Full coverage: Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2012, 08.29.12
My Next Book: Michael Jackson, Inc.
Why I decided to write a business-focused biography of the King of Pop.

Forbes magazine, 08.20.12
The $15 Million DJ
Skrillex made more than all but one EDM artist this year–and he’s creating a new model for all of music in the process.
Full coverage: Electronic Cash Kings 2012, 08.17.12
The Scandalously Boring Truth About Michael Jackson’s Will
Even if it’s invalid, it’ll revert to a nearly identical document., 08.02.12
Gym, Tan, Money
Inside DJ Pauly D’s $11 million payday., 07.11.12
Mark Teixeira’s Silicon Alley Hit
The Yankees’ first baseman is an investor in SportsYapper., 07.03.12
How Sony Helped LL Cool J Become A Tech Entrepreneur
Mama said plug you in., 06.29.12
Jacksons Rock The Apollo
The King of Pop’s brothers return to Harlem’s most hallowed ground., 06.27.12
The $46 Billion Band
Jon Bon Jovi and Warren Buffett rock the Forbes galleries for the greater good., 06.26.12
Why I Wrote An Unauthorized Jay-Z Biography.
Part II., 06.19.12
Delta Rae At Forbes
The bandmembers talk Kickstarter and give a newsroom performance.

Forbes magazine, 06.04.12
Bieber’s Business Brain
Scooter Braun made his name managing Justin Bieber. Now he’s diversifying.

Forbes magazine, 05.07.12
Label Maker
INgrooves’ Robb McDaniels shows you can make money in the music business — even if you’re not Apple.

Forbes magazine, 05.07.12
Who Needs A Middleman?
How Pomplamoose Got Lucky With Apple’s iTunes., 04.17.12
The Forbes Five (2012)
Our latest accounting of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists., 03.27.12
Big in Japan: L’Arc-En-Ciel
The richest rock band you’ve never heard of., 03.16.12
St. Patrick’s Day Score
Inside the big business of Celtic music., 02.12.12
Grammys 2012: Where The Magic Happens
Inside the Staples Center Media Lair.

Forbes magazine, 02.27.12
The Grammy Bounce
How much is an award really worth?, 02.03.12
Why Madonna Isn’t Getting Paid For Her Super Bowl Gig
It’s a matter of precedent.

Forbes magazine, 01.16.12
Mac Miller: Indie Music’s Savior?
The 19 year-old rap sensation is creating a new blueprint for mainstream musical success — without the help of a major record label.

Forbes magazine, 01.16.12
30 Under 30 in Music
Mac Miller, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga — and a handful of entrepreneurs whose names you’ll need to know — lead Forbes’ first-ever list of the music industry’s best and brightest youngsters., 01.11.12
Michael Jackson Vs. Elvis: The Rise And Fall of Two Kings
In Las Vegas, the gloves are coming off in the battle for posthumous supremacy., 12.22.11
The Best Jewish Rapper of All Time
In honor of Hanukkah, three Hebrew hip-hop heads (including yours truly) select The Tribe’s top rhymesters., 12.14.11
David Archuleta Headlines First-Ever Forbes Holiday Concert
The former American Idol contestant talks about the business of music — and brings some holiday cheer to the newsroom., 11.24.11
Why Nickelback Isn’t Getting Paid For Thanksgiving Day Gig
Hint: It’s the same reason the Black Eyed Peas didn’t get paid for their Super Bowl gig., 11.22.11
Defending the Jay-Z Class at Georgetown
Who says hip-hop doesn’t measure up to Homer?, 11.08.11
Watching Jay-Z and Kanye’s Throne at MSG
A front-row seat to what might be one of the more ambitious undertakings in live hip-hop history., 11.02.11
2 Chainz And The “Forbes Effect”
The rapper speaks out on what compelled him to make “Forbes Muzik.”, 10.25.11
Michael Jackson and the Economics of Touring After Death
The King of Pop may end up earning more on the road posthumously than he did alive., 10.11.11
Less Money, More Problems
Financial lessons from rapper Ace Hood., 10.06.11
Why Steve Jobs Was The Most Important Man In Music
Hint: It’s a lot more than just inventing the iPod., 09.27.11
Steve Stoute on the Tanning of America
The entertainment marketing guru talks Jay-Z, Brooklyn, and the difference between good and bad advertising., 09.22.11
Who Will Be Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire?
A look at rap’s wealthiest., 09.20.11
Get Rich, Or Feed The Poor Trying
50 Cent’s latest move., 09.19.11
Richard Branson On Being A Rockstar Billionaire
A chat with the founder of the Virgin empire., 09.14.11
Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings On Canvas
New York artist Borbet offers a visual take on rap’s top earners., 08.31.11
The Price of Fame in Ireland
On the Emerald Isle, footballers play for free., 08.26.11
The Rolling Stone Who Gathers Moss
Keyboardist and musical director Chuck Leavell might be the greenest man in rock and roll., 08.09.11
Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2011: Full Coverage
Jay-Z tops this year’s list. Who else made the cut?, 08.09.11
Wiz Khalifa’s High Earnings
The pride of Pittsburgh banked $11 million this year, thanks in part to a smokin’ hot merch business., 08.09.11
Birdman’s Billion Dollar Dreams
The Cash Money chief talks business with FORBES., 08.09.11
Hip-Hop’s Favorite DJ
The incredible business of DJ Cassidy.

Forbes magazine, 07.18.11
The Tables Are Turning
Vinyl has been on the rebound for years. Will LPs outlast CDs?, 06.29.11
Michael Jackson’s $400 Million Afterlife
The King of Pop continues to rake it in from beyond the grave., 06.09.11
Red Dillard: Musical Gangster
The Harlem legend once labeled as “the most dangerous man in America” did have a soft spot.

Forbes magazine, 05.18.11
Mars Attacks!
Bruno Mars isn’t on the cover of FORBES, but he’s getting closer.

Forbes magazine, 05.18.11
Still Rocking
Bon Jovi earned more than Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Kanye West — combined. How’d that happen?, 05.17.11
Without Me
Why Eminem Isn’t Getting Anything From That Universal Suit (Yet), 04.20.11
Lady Gaga’s Meaty Tax Deduction
Sometimes it pays to be weird., 04.05.11
Jay-Z, Beyonce and April Fools’ Day
In which I accidentally convince hundreds of people that music’s royal couple bought EMI., 03.31.11
The (Grateful) Dead’s Lifesaving Device
A roadie, a keyboardist and a real estate mogul walk into a bar…, 03.17.11
St. Patrick’s Day: A Pot of Gold For Irish Bands
The busy business of blarney., 03.16.11
Why Diddy Will Be Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire
The main reason starts with “C” and ends with “iroc.”, 03.01.11
Justin Bieber: Business or Businessman?
A surprise encounter with the teen heartthrob yields questions about his business savvy., 03.14.11
Grammy Bounce
The financial aftermath of an award., 02.08.11
Insuring the World’s Fastest Fingers
Why Oliver Lewis sleeps easy., 02.04.11
Why the Black Eyed Peas didn’t get paid for their Super Bowl gig., 02.03.11
The Decemberists’ Business Model
Just don’t call it a ukulele., 01.28.11
A Visit To The Rolling Stones’ Morocco
Tangier has really let itself go., 12.23.10
Paul McCartney Continues to Have a Wonderful (Financial) Christmas Time
The former Beatle has given himself a gift that keeps on giving., 12.14.10
Fab 5 Freddy Goes to Las Vegas
One of hip-hop’s most influential trailblazers opens up about his latest work., 12.14.10
Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Diddy’s Billion-Dollar Remix (“I Get Money: Forbes 1-2-3″)
The original cash king anthem, inspired in part by the work of yours truly., 12.08.10
11 Musicians To Watch In 2011
Justin Bieber leads a list of stars ready to take the next big step up–both musically and financially–in the year ahead., 12.08.10
Flo Rida Vows He’ll Return to FORBES List
Fortunately for Flo, FORBES’ Cash Kings list is determined by gross income, not net profits after car payments., 11.16.10
What Jay-Z’s Book Doesn’t Decode
The rapper’s memoir leaves plenty of questions about his life unanswered.

Forbes.vom, 11.05.10
Names You Need to Know For 2011: SoundExchange
Hey, dirt-ay, SoundExchange got your money!, 11.01.10
Tupac Shakur’s Ghastly Halloween
For the first time in his very lucrative life after death, Tupac Shakur’s earnings aren’t enough to place him among hip-hop’s living Cash Kings., 10.28.10
George W. Bush’s Gift to Hip-Hop
John Forté would still be sitting in jail, were it not for a last-minute pardon from a president not known for his love of rap., 10.25.10
The Rich Afterlife Of Michael Jackson
Smart deals by his estate have the King of Pop set to be one of the top earners in music for years to come., 10.22.10
Usher’s Favorite Music Rejection Service
Great news for up-and-coming musicians: Now you can pay to have your music rejected by industry executives!, 10.14.10
T.I. Saved Someone’s Life Last Night, And Perhaps His Own Career
A life-saving gesture this fall may have saved T.I. a few years of jail time., 10.15.10
Mr. T Wants to Buy Your Gold — Time to Sell?
Mr. T has signed on to hawk a mail-in gold buying service. But, he assures us, it’s no sign of a bubble (Bonus: a video of me interviewing the big guy)., 10.08.10
The Recording Industry’s Piracy-Proof Business Plan
With illegal file sharing contributing to a 50% drop in revenues across the recording industry over the past decade, many artists and record labels are turning to paid product placement in songs and videos to scare up funds., 10.06.10
Swizz Beatz’s Uncle Relaunching Ruff Ryders With Unusual Business Plan
Joaquin Dean is revamping the label that helped launch the careers of Swizz Beatz, The Lox and DMX., 11.04.10
Mariah Carey and Lil Jon’s Favorite Jeweler
From diamond-encrusted fish tanks to the largest diamond pendant in recorded history, Jason Arasheben is making some of the world’s most outlandish pieces for some of the world’s mos celebrated stars., 09.22.10
Jay-Z’s $50 Million Music Box
Jay-Z is already worth $450 million, by our estimates. Here are a few reasons he’s well on his way to becoming a billionaire., 08.17.10
Special Report: Hip-Hop Cash Kings
(Edited by Zack O’Malley Greenburg)
Even in a shaky economy, rap’s richest keep finding ways to thrive., 08.17.10
Hip-Hop’s Unofficial Sommelier
Branson B. has provided rap’s royalty with fine champagne. Now he’s trying to make his own brand of bubbly pop in a crowded marketplace., 08.17.10
Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2010
Rap’s richest are finding ways to thrive during the recession — especially these top 20 earners.

AOL Daily Finance, 05.14.10
The Crunk Life
Lil Jon explains how he’s creating a diversified portfolio (on video!)

AOL Daily Finance, 02.04.10
The Roots Grow Their New Hip-Hop Business Model, a Year Into NBC’s ‘Late Night’
A year after the eclectic Philly ensemble became Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s house band, it has a new strategy. Drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson discusses the network salary, late-night jams, and less touring.

AOL Daily Finance, 02.01.10
A Grammy-Winning Producer Explains How an Award Turns into Cash
Grammy-winning producer Jim Jonsin discusses the economics of winning an award: the ability to demand $75,000 per song from a music label, and the potential to demand $150,000., 07.09.09
Akon’s Recession-Proof Tune
One sweet-singing impresario is thriving amid the rap recession., 07.09.09
The Man Who Invented Hip Hop
Afrika Bambaataa is credited with creating a musical movement, but he’s no cash king. That’s fine by him., 07.09.09
Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings 2009
Rap’s richest aren’t immune to the worldwide downturn, but top stars still find ways to rake in millions., 06.27.09
Michael Jackson’s Estate Sale
Jackson’s debt may force a quick sale of his prized asset: rights to the Beatles catalog., 08.18.08
The 50 Cent Machine
Curtis ”50 Cent” Jackson is hedging against the whims of the music industry–with the help of an African billionaire.

Forbes special issue, 08.18.08
The Beatz Goes On
Records produced by Swizz Beatz have sold over 100 million copies. Now he wants to become an industry., 08.18.08
Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings 2008
Behind the thumping beats and aggressive stage personas are some very savvy businessmen. These 20 top the list.

Forbes magazine, 08.16.07
Money From Heaven
Think you have estate problems? Take a look at the fighting over slain rapper Tupac Shakur and other hip-hoppers.

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Zack O'Malley Greenburg is the senior editor of media & entertainment at Forbes and author of two books: Michael Jackson, Inc and the Jay Z biography Empire State of Mind. In a decade at Forbes, Zack has investigated topics from pension fund scandals to Katy Perry's touring business to Wu-Tang Clan's secret album. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Billboard, Sports Illustrated, McSweeney's and Vibe; he's served as an expert source for BBC, NPR, MTV, NY Times and 60 Minutes, and as a speaker at SXSW, TEDx, Georgetown, Harvard and Yale, his alma mater. A recovering child actor, he played the title role in film Lorenzo's Oil (1992). Zack is now writing a new book, THREE KINGS, which will be published in 2017 by Little, Brown. Get Zack's quarterly email updates | Full bio

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Zack is available for speaking engagements related to music, business and media, as well as his books, Empire State of Mind and Michael Jackson, Inc. To inquire about his availability, please click here.


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