Rihanna signed to Def jam records when she was unsure who exactly she wanted to be. She sported half tops, baggy jeans and sneakers like Aaliyah but also had long blond hair and demure soft looks like Beyoncé who she said was her idol
Her first two albums “Music of the Sun” and “Girl like me” did not meet the expectation of Def Jam Label boss -LA Reid- even though there were some hit single in both Albums- “Pon de replay”, “unfaithful”, “break it off” and “SOS” – the albums collectively fell below sales expectations.
At that time , her record Label Def Jams headed by La Reid(Chairman) and Jay Z ( president). The label management had signed two other ladies in addition to Rihanna – Teairra Marie and Christina Milan. Infact everyone assumed it was Teairra Marie that would be the breakout star so the label invested more in her than Rihanna.
But in 2005, they all put out albums- (Rihanna, Teairra Marie and Christina Milan) everyone of them fell below expectations including Rihanna, So Def Jam planned to drop all three of them- Teairra Marie expected to be the breakout success of Def Jam was the first to get axed-Christina Milan was next. The record company had lost money and lost faith.
Rihanna was best described by critics as ordinary, plain, would fade away…
Good girl gone bad
Rihanna- Understood she was next on the chopping block – she took a bold move on her career with her third ALBUM GOOD GIRL GONE BAD
She chopped off her bold blond locks for a shorter haircut and changed from demure soft to Gothic looks- a clear differentiation from her label mates. And every other person she had ever been compared to.
Her next album Good girls gone bad had new songs that suited her new mood and personality – “Russian Roulette” , “Umbrella” “Shut up and drive”
She was no longer a pop princess, she was no longer everyone else- she was Rihanna damn it, and she had been reborn- take it or leave it…. the world loved it, Her single Umbrella stayed number one in Billboard chats for 11 weeks
But Def Jam was not convinced especially because album sales was still low inspite of one hit single- they had not recouped their money, They were hesitant to invest in her, rather than drop her from the Label- they watched to see what happened next.
Good Girl Gone Bad laid the foundation for Rihanna to become one of the best-selling artists of the decade- But Rihanna had to push and sponsor the album herself since her label had lost faith in her
Patricia Williams, Rihanna’s financial manager (Fired for financial misappropriation) revealed how Rihanna had to sponsor most of these projects with her own money because the Label Def Jam did not believe in her.
According to Williams,”Def Jam doesn’t fund Rihanna properly, so her Manager Marc uses the money Rihanna makes from third-party endorsements and from tours to fund her album and music videos.”
Rihanna has been sponsored by the likes of JC Penny, Samsung, Covergirl, Secret, Venus Breeze etc, All the money she made from touring with Pussy cat dolls and Kanye West was saved up to support her album.
Her Manager Marc Jordan very instrumental to her success negotiated affordable deals for her videos or simply low budgets videos
According to Rihanna’s fired financial Manager Patricia Williams- Rihanna sponsored most of the songs in the album- ‘Shut Up & Drive’ and ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ , Umbrella, Disturbia- at the end of it all- the album was a colossal success but Rihanna was left bankrupt.
The Caribbean-born singer was propelled into the spotlight, with Good Girl Gone Bad selling 2.8 million copies and spending 99 weeks on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.The album’s breakout single, “Umbrella,” spent over 2 months (9 weeks) at No.1.
But all that was over 10 years ago, and Rihanna is now one of the biggest musicians in the world, recently named by Forbes as the richest female musician in the world thanks to using her star power to launch beauty products and a fashion empire
I started this as Rihanna’s success Journey, but as I close- it hits me like a story of three young girls that had the same opportunity- and one pushed harder, took bolder steps, stayed hungry….& got rewarded