Their placing, the magazine said, recognised the way they had transformed the way music was released – Jay Z releasing Magna Carta Holy Grail free to Samsung mobile users, Beyoncé putting her self-titled album straight on to iTunes with no warning.
"Leveraging their star power to release new albums in unprecedented ways … they instantly changed how the industry and fans thought about interacting with music," Billboard said. "He gave his album away; she charged a premium price for hers. But they both used the element of surprise to restore the excitement that used to accompany a new release, before that impact was dulled by the endless thunder of carefully plotted promotion."
The pair were the only performing artists to feature in the 100, the rest of the list largely comprising label executives, digital industry figures, managers and producers. A Brit came in at No 2 – Lucian Grainge, the chairman and CEO of the Universal Music Group, whose successful purchase of the EMI music group was cited as a reason for his position. "As music business revenue opportunities continue to diversify away from a reliance on retail to areas more beloved by investors – subscription services, digital platforms with access to youth and high-margin brand partnerships – the value of music assets will at worst hold steady, but more than likely appreciate," Billboard said. "Grainge has almost guaranteed that UMG, as an all-dominant market leader, will benefit disproportionately from the rebound."
At No 3 is Coran Capshaw, the founder and owner of Red Light Management, who "continues to be on the leading edge if the industry's shifting power dynamic from labels to artists and, by extension, managers". Capshaw is powerful in Nashville, the home of country music, meaning he is powerful across the US industry, and employs more than 60 managers. However, his interests extend beyond management, into festivals, venue operation and labels, meaning he is able to build partnerships, rather than rely on traditional and declining revenue streams.
It's perhaps telling about Billboard's view of the music industry that the upper reaches of the lists are dominated by old-style executives. The highest ranking figure with a power base within the digital sector is Jimmy Iovine, at 10, whose Beats streaming service launched this week. And his background is deep in the heart of the old music industry – as engineer, producer and then label boss. The first figures on the list to have come from outside old music industry careers are Apple's Eddy Cue and Robery Kondrk, at 12. And even the man responsible for marketing at Anheuser-Busch comes in 11 places higher than Spotify's Daniel Ek, who sits at 25.
The Billboard Top 10
1 Jay Z and Beyoncé, artists
2 Lucian Grainge, CEO and chairman, Universal Music Group
3 Coran Capshaw, founder and owner, Red Light Management
4 Michael Rapino, CEO, Live Nation Entertainment
5 Martin Bandier, chairman and CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
6 Doug Morris, chairman and CEO, Sony Music Entertainment
7 Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment
8 Len Blavatnik, vice-chairman and owner, Warner Music Group
9 Rob Light, managing partner/head of music, Creative Artists Agency
10 Jimmy Iovine, chairman, Interscope Geffen A&M; co-founder and CEO, Beats Electronics
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Joella Marano