With the release of her first studio album in 2005, Rihanna entered global popular culture consciousness as an unknown teenage singer from the Caribbean island of Barbados. From the start of her music career, she pursued parallel streams of entrepreneurial activity and numerous sponsorship/endorsement deals that have significantly increased in value and visibility, greatly enhancing her overall commercial viability.
Music has almost become a marginal facet in Rihanna’s career, with fashion and cosmetic activities accounting for a progressively larger amount of her income, her creative attention, and her social media identities. Students can use this case to analyze the growth of Rihanna’s commodity value, exploring the complexities of the commercial interrelationships between her music and selective product alliances, and the sponsorship/endorsement chronologies. Has Rihanna’s success in the worlds of fashion and beauty overshadowed or enhanced her presence as a musical performer? Why has Rihanna succeeded where so many other similar performers have achieved less commercially, in and beyond music?