Whether you call him Puffy, Puff, Sean, or Diddy, chances are you also use the word “rich” when describing the music mogul. After once again topping the list of highest grossing rappers, we explore what keeps him ahead of the competition.

Gone are the glory days of hip-hop when the formula was simple; make a great album, sell that great album for money, watch as people buy that album for $15 USD, and then tour off the strength and reception of that project. Before the introduction of music piracy, artists weren’t required to diversify their holdings. But today, being at the proverbial “hip-hop mountain top” has little to do with tangible album sales. First and foremost, being a rapper in 2015 means having a serious business acumen.

Forbes estimates Diddy’s net worth at $735 million USD – making him not only the top dog on the “Forbes Five” list of the wealthiest hip-hop artists, but also the highest grossing hip-hop artist in all of 2015 with an additional $60 million USD added to his already staggering fortune.

While he has released a few singles in the recent past like “Big Homie” featuring Rick Ross and French Montana as well as “Finna Get Loose” featuring Pharrell Williams, it’s safe to say that his days of going platinum are in his rear-view mirror. It may be even safer to say that Diddy’s current music earnings are more akin to a kid’s lemonade stand than his meal ticket.

As affluent peers like Jay Z, Drake, Eminem and Kanye West continue to churn out new albums, Diddy simply doesn’t need to make music to be considered hip-hop royalty in the eyes of those who cover finance. Here’s why:

image credit: mzshyneka.com

Revolt TV

With a current reach of just 25 million pay TV homes, Diddy solidified the future of Revolt TV with a partnership with AT&T in July of this year which would see the channel added to the U300 bundle.

“This is a historical day for Revolt,” Combs said. “With a major player like AT&T, more people will be able to access the hottest music and original content on every screen and device. This agreement shows the world that Revolt is a force in the media industry.”

While financial figures have never been disclosed related to Combs’ financial gain from both his original deal with Comcast and his new deal with AT&T, there’s reason to believe that even with a quarter of the audience that MTV has, there is still lots of money to be made.

As Forbes noted in 2013, “Turning a profit may prove difficult in the early going, but a well-oiled network can generate margins in excess of 25%. So, some back-of-the-envelope math: say Revolt manages $4 per subscriber per year. That works out to $100 million in sales, and perhaps $25 million in profit. Apply a 15x earnings multiple, and you get a valuation of $375 million for the network. Diddy wouldn’t disclose the precise nature of his stake, saying only that it was more than half. Even if it’s 51%, he’s looking at a potential net worth bump of nearly $200 million on paper when Revolt goes live. If he doubles his subscriber base over the next few years, the math says he’ll be a billionaire.”

Diddy has stated that he has aspirations to make Revolt to music what ESPN is to sports. The latter made $7 billion USD in cable fees in 2013.

image credit: artfile.ru

Sean John

Although Diddy’s venture into clothing may seem like a relic of yesteryear, it’s still very much a lucrative endeavor for him. According to their company bio, Sean John still pulls in a whopping $525 million USD in sales annually in the United States alone.

While Sean John sportswear has been exclusive to Macy’s in the U.S. since 2011, Combs has plans to expand internationally through a series of new licensing agreements and partnerships that will find the brand on sales floors in India, South America, Africa, China, and the Middle East. Jeff Tweedy, the company’s longtime president who oversees the day-to-day operations of the New York-based business, noted that the shift to foreign markets would account for an additional $100 million USD in revenue in the next three years.

Additionally, Tweedy forecast that by 2018, Sean John would be a $1 billion brand at retail.

image credit: qzprod.files.wordpress.com


Whether the correct pronunciation is “en-y-ce” (like NYC), or “en-ne-che” because of its early Italian ties to Fila, under Diddy’s watchful eye, the clothing brand that gained notoriety in the late ‘9os proved to be a lucrative acquisition in 2008.

Purchased for $20 million USD from Liz Claiborne who had bought it from the original owners in 2004 for $114 million USD, the brand remains available in 2,000 retail locations.

image credit: cloudfront.net


During his training for his role as Mickey Ward in The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg noticed a difference in his recovery time between workouts after sampling a strange beverage in a blue bottle. After locating the source, he quickly realized that AQUAhydrate was a fledgling brand – but one that he believed in.

Soon after, he brought Diddy and billionaire Ron Bukle on board as primary investors. “Mark was the person who found the product, and we kind of fell in behind Mark and his passionate belief in the product,” says Diddy. “And it was contagious.”

According to AC Nielsen, AQUAhydrate is the fastest growing water in the United States and has enjoyed triple-digit annual growth since 2012.

In 2014, Diddy and co. hired 30-year Coca-Cola veteran Hal Kravitz to be AQUAhydrate’s CEO. Previously, Kravitz had the distinction of overseeing the brand during its acquisition of Glaceau – which now includes Coke’s smartwater, Powerade and vitaminwater brands – for $4.1 billion. As many are aware, this deal netted 50 Cent $100 million USD despite having less shares than Diddy currently has in AQUAhydrate.

image credit: theblueflameagency.com

Blue Flame Marketing

Responsible for getting the word out for Bad Boy Records-related projects, Ciroc Vodka and much more, Diddy’s Blue Flame Marketing did $12 million USD worth of billing in 2004 (the last known figures available.).

If AdAge’s report last year is any indication, the marketing space is quite the lucrative arena to be invested in, noting, “U.S. agency revenue increased 3.7% to $39.1 billion in 2013.”

image credit: gbllifestyle.com

Ciroc Vodka

Diddy’s relationship with Diageo – the parent company of Ciroc – has caused beverage sales to increase from 40,000 cases sold annually to 2 million. While many on the outside may see him as merely a spokesman, Bloomberg reports that the vodka is “an equal-share venture with Combs” and the product accounted for 11 percent of Diageo’s $20.4 billion USD revenue in 2008.

Forbes reports that he receives a seven-figure annual payout from the brand and a reported nine-figure windfall if the brand is ever sold.

lead image/feature image credit: huffingtonpost.com

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.