Sean Combs And The Ownership Of Genius [WAAMN Chapter 1.5]

Diddy went from paper boy to Bad Boy to burgeoning billionaire thanks to his focus on ownership and customer service—a strategy that works way beyond music.

This is the weekly installment of my new book, We Are All Musicians Now. To make sure you don’t miss future serializations, subscribe here. Below you’ll find Chapter 1: The Ownership of Genius (Part 5). Enjoy!


In the initial installment of this book’s first chapter, “The Ownership of Genius,” I recounted my conversation with Paul McCartney about his early motivations to control his work with the Beatles (“No matter how successful we made the company, we didn’t get a raise”) and his ensuing fixation on ownership.

Today we’ll close the chapter with another member of the Forbes Centennial issue’s list of greatest living business minds: Sean Combs. And whether you call him Diddy, Puff Daddy or Brother Love, he represents the next step in how musicians have evolved in relation to intellectual property.

More specifically, it’s not just his music, or even his own work, that has him headed toward the gilded gate of the billionaire club. Like Berry Gordy with Motown, Diddy built much of his hit catalog with the strength of other artists at his record company (Bad Boy).

He took things even further, finding a way to own not only music, but to grab pieces of the broader entertainment ecosystem from clothing to booze. And for someone who made a name for himself by showing up at parties in fur coats, he approached business with a surprisingly mundane focus.

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