Business mogul and hip-hop star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has joined the growing number of musicians and entrepreneurs who are embracing bitcoin by accepting the digital currency as payment for his new album, 'Animal Ambition'.
50 Cent’s Shopify store will accept bitcoin payments for the new release, with BitPay acting as the payments processor. Shopify first integrated payments for its network of merchants in November 2013.
The development brings a prominent face to the bitcoin community. In addition to being a successful rap artist and producer, Jackson is a notable entrepreneur, having invested in Glaceau – the makers of Vitaminwater – in a deal that would eventually propel his net worth toward $140m.
Tony Gallippi, BitPay’s executive chairman, hailed the announcement by saying:
"We are excited to see high profile independent artists use bitcoin and 50 Cent's trail as an innovator is outstanding."
Jackson has also sold more than 30 million records to date, with hit albums including 'Get Rich or Die Tryin’', 'Curtis' and 'Before I Self Destruct'.
The release follows Jackson's decision to leave longtime label Interscope Records in February to work with distributor Caroline, part of the Independent Services division of Capital Records.
Bitcoin's latest entrepreneur
Most famous for his investment in Glaceua, which later sold to beverage conglomerate Coca-Cola for $4.1bn, 50 Cent has also engaged in other notable investments over the years.
In 2013, he took another chance on the beverage market, launching Street King energy shots, which currently holds the number two market share in the $2bn annual industry.
Given Jackson's noted activism as an investor, it’s possible that the move signifies the rap star’s larger interest in digital currencies. For example, by accepting bitcoin as payment for copies of 'Animal Ambition', the venture provides Jackson with an interesting way of accruing BTC.
BitPay’s relationship with Shopify allows merchants to receive dollars, bitcoins or a combination of the two. It isn’t clear which direction Jackson plans on taking the store in this regard.
CoinDesk reached out to Jackson’s representatives for more details, but was unable to receive immediate comment.
More artists embracing bitcoin
Jackson isn’t the only music artist to embrace bitcoin for record sales.
In December 2013, Snoop Dogg (also known as recently as Snoop Lion) expressed interest in taking bitcoin for his next record, though to date he hasn't taken an formal steps toward this decision. At the time, he hinted that the record would be "available in bitcoin and delivered in a drone". Later, Snoop had a public exchange with Coinbase via Twitter about the idea, saying that "I want to make it happen".
Former Spice Girl Mel B followed suit later that month, expressing interest in the digital currency for her then-upcoming single. She remarked that she was excited about the possibilities contained in consumer-leaning innovations like bitcoin, saying:
"I love how new technology makes our lives easier, and to me that’s exciting. Bitcoin unites my fans around the world using one currency. They can just pay using bitcoins!"
At the time, Donald Glover, a comedian who goes by the hip-hop moniker Childish Gambino, also suggested that he might accept bitcoin for his upcoming music project.
Beyond payments, other hip hop groups have experimented with the digital currency as a means of generating income. In March, Ain’t No Love launched their second EP, 'Tears of Joy', and paired the release with a bitcoin-friendly torrent publication on the FrostWire platform.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.