LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jay-Z is on the verge of a deal with concert promoter Live Nation worth about $150 million that rivals the biggest music contracts ever, the New York Times reported on its Web site on Wednesday.
Jay-Z was said to be planning to leave his longtime record label, Def Jam, for a package with Live Nation, which includes financing his own entertainment venture as well as recordings and tours over the next decade.
The deal, which sources told the newspaper should be finalized this week, comes after Live Nation earlier this week announced a 12-year agreement to handle the merchandising, digital and branding rights and touring of Irish group U2.
Live Nation, which unveiled a $120 million deal with Madonna five months ago, has been expanding its business model to develop more far-reaching and deeper relationships with artists beyond just handling their touring as CD sales plunge.
No one at Live Nation was immediately available to comment on the Jay-Z report.
Like many other performers, Jay-Z -- whose real name is Shawn Carter -- has seen his record sales fall but he has also pursued other business ventures such as a clothing line, Rocawear, which he sold last year for $204 million, and a chain of 40/40 nightclubs.
This has kept him at the top of Forbes magazine's annual list of "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" with estimated earnings of $34 million in 2006.
The New York Times said the deal with Live Nation would involve the concert promoter funding a start-up of a venture called Roc Nation that would be an umbrella for the rapper's outside projects which are expected to include his own label, music publishing, and talent consulting and managing.
The venture would split profits with Jay-Z.
Jay-Z, 38, last year stepped down as president of Def Jam Records, a unit of French media concern Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, saying he wanted to "take on new challenges."
As well as being one of the world's best known rappers who regularly tops the lists of richest hip hop moguls, he is also known for his romance with R&B singer Beyonce Knowles.
People magazine reported this week that the couple had taken out a wedding license in Scarsdale Villge, New York, that is valid for 60 days. But representatives for the couple have declined to comment on latest rumors of an impending marriage.