Here’s a guest post from the folks at Business Insurance Online.
Rock Stars and Business
There are two missing from the list – Paul McCartney who eclipses them all in both wealth and business management – a while back he was hailed as the first Billion Dollar Rock Star.
And he might of course be overtaken by Bono with his Facebook holding about to IPO.
But, it’s still a cool post about North American Rockers who know how to run a business.
“Vintage rockers and young bloods are all currently navigating an industry that some say is imploding, if it hasn’t already disintegrated. Others believe the innovations in technology for promotion and distribution of music, sometimes referring to the artists themselves as “product” or “content,” are providing musicians more opportunities than ever before for making a living. Here are 10 rock stars (well, nine plus one country music star) who, in addition to faring well in the brave new world of the 21st century music industry, all have a gift for making good business decisions.
In 1977, lite cowboy and cocaine rockers the Eagles went to court to gain control of their music publishing from their former manager and Asylum Records label head David Geffen. From the very beginning of their career, Eagles founders drummer Don Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey never pretended to be anything but ambitious, and they backed up their ambitions with a string of hit singles and albums. By the mid-’70s, the Eagles were selling one million albums a month, and playing hardball with their label and live concert promoters, receiving whatever they demanded as a percentage of gate ticket sales. The Eagles won their suit against Geffen and regained control of their publishing, worth tens of millions of dollars. But success has had its cost. The band’s cynicism about the music business, not to mention women and their own fans, comes through loud and clear in the lyrics to several of their hit songs. And while Eagles continue to tour, selling out stadiums is difficult to do thanks in part to our current economy.
A child of the Marcy Houses housing project in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Shawn Carter, better known as “Jay-Z,” went from releasing his first recordings on his own label, to becoming one of the most successful hip-hop artist entrepreneurs of all time. Jay-Z’s empire includes stakes in the 40/40 club chain, the New Jersey Nets basketball team, the clothing line Rocawear, and the Roc Nation label. He recently launched a lifestyle website, Life + Times, to help perpetuate the notion of Jay-Z as a brand. “My brands are an extension of me,” Jay-Z has said. “They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.”
Nine Inch Nails, formerly on Interscope Records, are among a handful of top-selling artists, who have recently chosen to manage and release their music themselves instead of under the auspices of a major label. Nine Inch Nails front man and mastermind Trent Reznor is currently exploring a variety of ways to finance and perpetuate the Nine Inch Nails “brand,” including allowing fans to video tape concerts, and releasing recordings, sometimes for free or pay what you will, under a Creative Commons license, allowing for remixes of the material. “There’s a lot of opportunities I think to make money,” says Reznor with regard to Nine Inch Nails and its website. “But it shouldn’t always be about just making money.”
Madonna’s net worth has been estimated to be between $525 million and $600 million. Early on in her career, she had a strong sense for business and, perhaps more importantly, took care of herself physically by exercising and avoiding drugs and alcohol. The scope of her talents, which include singing, songwriting, fashion designing, dancing, and acting, is mind blowing, linking her to other great multifaceted female entertainers, like Josephine Baker, Judy Holiday, and Marilyn Monroe. However, in spite of her reputation and skill at artistic appropriation, Madonna’s accomplishments in the music industry as a woman, including creative and financial control of her brand, are unprecedented.”