In a remix of the popular song “All Of The Lights,” produced by Jeff Bhasker and Kanye West, and featuring the performing artist publicly known as Drake, another popular artist named Big Sean raps, “my vision is 20/20 so I be counting a hundred 100′s.” Drake is signed to Cash Money Records, a label founded by brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams that also features Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. He has been busy counting his money due in large part to his immense touring success and his label’s ability to effectively promote him among the masses. Now, Cash Money Records and Drake may be seeking to capture some of Big Sean’s 20/20 vision through what it likely believes to be a smart business venture — the creation of a sports agency.
On October 25, 2013, Cash Money Records, Inc. filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an effort to eventually receive registration for the mark “Visionaire Sports Group.” The filing was made to protect “Visionaire Sports Group” when used in connection with “sports agency services, namely, management, representation and promotion of professional athletes; business management of sports people; talent recruiting services in the field of sports” and other sports-related ventures. The trademark application was filed on an intent-to-use basis and has not been supplemented with a specimen to demonstrate that the “Visionaire Sports Group” name is being used in commerce.
One potential justification for why any public use of “Visionaire Sports Group” is tough to find is that Cash Money Records may have altered its plans since applying for the trademark in October. According to football industry watchdog website Inside the League, Young Money Records is said to be conducting necessary due diligence to enter the athlete representation arena as early as the beginning of 2014. It is likely that the website intended to refer to Young Money Entertainment, which is a record label that is closely affiliated with the aforementioned artists (and sometimes confused with Cash Money Records).
According to sources of Inside the League, Young Money has chosen to invest in an existing Mississippi-based sports agency named Play 2 Win Sports, Inc., which appears to lack any notable NFL clients currently signed to Standard Representation Agreements. It would be somewhat akin to Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports hiring NFL Contract Advisor Kimberly Ann Miale earlier this year so that the company would have a certified agent within its ranks to represent New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith. Little was known of Miale, who had failed to negotiate any NFL active players’ contracts at the time she was hired to play a major role in Jay Z’s new football division.
Whether Cash Money Records and/or Young Money Entertainment decides to partner with an existing agency or attempts to make inroads in the world of athlete representation remains to be seen. However, what appears to be quite clear is that at least one of the two entities is taking the idea of sports agency quite seriously.
Prior reports have indicated that Texas A&M quarterback may be heavily learning toward signing with Houston, Texas-based Select Sports Group after the conclusion of his team’s bowl game. However, if Drake even becomes indirectly associated with a competing sports agency, may the former Heisman Trophy winner change course and affiliate with the man whose record label “OVO” is emblazoned on the quarterback’s wrist in the form of a tattoo?
How will the Toronto Raptors and/or the NBA react if Drake decides to take any role in a new or existing sports agency? A few months ago, the Raptors named Drake as the team’s official global ambassador. Drake referred to the day he accepted the offer as one of the best days of his life. ”I can’t wait to add everything I can,” said Drake. He also received a congratulatory email from Jay Z, the rapper turned entrepreneur turned NBA team owner turned sports agent.
Jay Z was right — with his entrance into sports representation came a set of new rules. Yet, the balance of power in the world of representing professional athletes is constantly changing (see: William Morris Endeavor’s recent purchase of IMG Academy), and the speed at which power shifts hands may increase with the introduction of more entertainment-related professionals seeking to carve out their piece of the sports agency industry pie.