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Music Media

The Rolling Stones' Business Model 164

reallocate writes "These pages were graced a few days ago by a piece that included comments on the future of the music business from the Stones' Keith Richards. Now, here's a detailed Fortune report on the business side of the Stones -- Keith and Mick seem to know what they're doing and may not be all that concerned about the future -- the Stones have ground out $1.5 billion (yes, that's a 'b') in gross revenue since 1989."
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The Rolling Stones' Business Model

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  • SOMEBODY out there in /. land has to have a logical correlation rant on how the Stones are evil because they came into all their new billions by becoming Microsoft's little bitch for the 'Start' me up campaign.
  • .. who was a "drugged-out, late-teens strip-club owner from Ottawa". He offered $40 million to the band, all of which he didn't have.

    Sounds like a smart business plan to me! ..and he got away with it by introducing corporate sponsorship and cross-promotion to their gigs. I'm sure there must've been some strip-club/Stones cross-promotion going on as well ;)
  • For the biologists here, is it possible for someone to spontaneously mummify?
    • IANAB, but if by mummification you mean desiccation, freeze drying is probably the closest thing to spontaneous mummification, and even that could take a year I'm guessing (since freeze drying a large dog can take up to 6 months []). Don't know how else to gently remove all of the liquid content from a human body.

      If, however, you're talking about getting the Full Pharaoh done in 15 minutes or less, then no. Not only is there the whole brain-removal-through-the-nose business to take care of, but also the internal organectomy (with associated preparation and individualized packaging into a charming array of Canopic jars), the stuffing of the cavities with delicious herbs and spices, the extended natron soak, the wrapping with fine linens... If you're doing the job right, of course, there will also be a tomb of opulent design upon which skilled artisans have been laboring for at least a decade, as well as kick ass grave goods...

      Keith may well have a good head start on the process, depending on how much of his grey matter he's already removed via his nasal passages. Heavy alcohol consumption wouldn't be bad for traditional mummification either, but it would probably fuck up a nice predictable freeze dry -- too much alcohol in the blood and it doesn't freeze, and then where are you?
  • Here I'm specifically referring to their business. After all... who in their right business mind would title the worldwide tour Licks
    and get this little tidbit

    So, too, does Prince Rupert Zu Loewenstein, a London-based banker who carries an old Bavarian title and who's been the band's chief business advisor for some 30 years--"and I hope for another 30 too," he says.

    They have a bavarian Prince named Loewenstein? Is that a normal Bavarian royal surname?
    Since TLD's are apparently being handed out by economic impact (see yesterdays article regarding whois) they'll have to have a new RS set!

    --Computers... just a fad. You'll see

  • <<wonders what the Rolling Stones are doing on /. >>
    Ah, the future of the music-industry, from the mouth of the dinosaurs of the music-industry (:-)
    <<grins, ducks and runs>>

    <<peers at 15^H^H36 previous posts..>>

    uh-huh...rrright - I'd better write something relevant ;^D Here goes...

    <rant & rave>

    Well, firstly thats a pretty interesting confirms something that I've been wondering about for a while now; the Rollings Stones haven't had any big hits for quite some time now.

    I doubt any of us will ever become rock'n roll legends...(software/internet legends? Phah, thats easy ;^)
    but I have to wonder how much of that $1.5 Billion
    GROSS revenue actually went to each of the rolling-stones after tax, expenses, etc etc etc.

    There's a lot of numbers being thrown around in that article...but no specifics...all GROSS figures...hmmm. <<secretly wonders how many pages Mick Jaggers end-of-year tax-statement fills>>

    It occurs to me that software has a lot in common with rock'n roll songs:
    They are 100% creativity, they are created from nothing. (hey, sold on CD's as well :)

    However, the shelf-life of a given song is near infinite, once a succesfull song is released, you can sit back and let the money roll in. (Making sure you move from country to country to avoid the taxman/taxlaw >:)

    On the other hand, the shelf-life for software is ridiculously short though - games are a prime example.(ok ok that doesn't work for (most) open-source software..i think :)

    Maybe I should've become a rock-star after all...

    </rant & rave>

    To quote from the article:
    "How long can we go on?" asks Keith. "Forever. We'll let you know when we keel over."

    That sums it up nicely :) Then we can smoke his ashes! (to quote Dennis Leary)
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @05:22AM (#4306344)
    So Mr. Jagger is now the CEO and a major investor in an SME with a turnover of around $120M per annum. He has well chosen business associates and, presumably, a considerable degree of autonomy. And because the business is built so closely around him and his close associates, his position is rather secure. Unusually, too, he is a celebrity who is actually famous for doing something, rather than just famous for being plucked from obscurity and made famous. Pretty good

    Moral: Kids, stop trying to get on reality TV and go to economics classes.

    (This is just a plug for my new single, Smack up ma CEO of a Fortune 500 company)

    • If you were old enough, you might remember that Mick studied at the London School of Economics (very prestigious school for future CEOs) before realising that the way to make money was to act stupid and sing imitations of black music. (Elvis was probably in Economics 101 in those days, even if not officially).
      • He wasn't there for very long (less than 2 years, IIRC) and didn't do all the much even when he was there (lots of gigging, etc)
      • Actually, I am old enough, though not as old as Mr. Jagger (I don't hold with titles.) But when he went to the LSE it was not a "prestigious school for future CEOs". It was a left-wing institution which promoted statist economics, the sort of place that provided think-tank fodder for socialist governments, and command-economy thinkers for the Treasury. Which may be why Jagger went into music instead...
      • Elvis drove a milk van in Memphis and started gigging for the girls. The Colonel made him and broke him.

      • If you were old enough, you might remember that Mick studied at the London School of Economics...

        If you had read the article you would have known that too.

    • Thats Sir Mick Jagger nowadays. Mr Keith Richards is said to be very angry about the Jagger's new title.
    • And because the business is built so closely around him and his close associates, his position is rather secure.

      All those paparazzi must play hell with any exit strategy, though... unless he takes the Brian Jones route?

  • Keith and Mick seem to know what they're doing and may not be all that concerned about the future

    If you sum up their ages, it comes in right around 134. They are (probably) not burning through other peoples money like some pet food dot com. They've made their billion, married their super models, and pretty much out lived everybody else in their industry. The future they concerned with is propably not a get rich quick scheme -- that probably doesn't matter any more.

    Now Mick, feel free to send those comp tickets to the enclosed address.....
  • "Well folk rock, punk rock, power pop music
    Turned out to be the latest trends
    And ther ain't no more progressive music
    The business has put it to an end
    Ol' "Rolling Stone" has gathered some moss
    No they ain't what they used to be
    They try to look like "Look" with their political pages
    And advertising all over T.V.

    So na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na
    I bet you've heard this song before
    Take your cocaine and hit the door.

    - "Cheap Shot" John Mellencamp, 1980.

    A penny for my thoughts? Here's my two cents. I got ripped off!

  • "...the band has generated more than $1.5 billion in gross revenues."

    $1.5 billion? Son of a bitch!

    Mick, I will NO LONGER TOLERATE hearing you talk about not getting any satisfaction.

  • Education (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lucky_Pierre ( 175635 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @06:34AM (#4306439)
    Well.....Mick *did* attend the London School of Economics.
    • But he mostly studied economic history, not business.
    • Yeah, but:

      Jagger is eloquent and informed, but he has a disclaimer: "I don't
      really count myself as a very sophisticated businessperson," he says as
      he leans back on the couch. "I'm a creative artist. All I know from
      business I've picked up along the way. I never really studied business
      in school. I kind of wish I had, kind of, but how boring is that?"
  • ...that Rock And Roll's most active senior citizens (they're STILL touring?!?)are the first major act to try and take the online music plunge? Isn't it kind of weird that Keith Richards (who's senior class includes Moses, the Sphinx, and Strom Thurmond) is explaining an online music business model? As a long-time Stones fan, I hope it works out for them and other artists follow suit.

    Speaking of Keith, where do I sign up to get some of that man's blood?

    Wild. One of the oldest active bands trying out the semi-latest technology/business ideas. Sorry Alanis, but it is a little too ironic. Yeah, I really do think...
    • Speaking of Keith, where do I sign up to get some of that man's blood?

      I have three words for you: Swiss Chalet Transfusion []

    • When they aired the Babylon tour on PBS a couple of years back, I noticed they had let people online pick the next song in the setlist by voting on their web page. I thought that was pretty progressive for a bunch of rockin'old guys.
    • What the hell, Dave Brubeck still tours, and he's 80-something. Granted, his performances are a lot less athletic, but all the staying-in-hotels-and-sleeping-on-airplanes crap is the same (maybe worse, since Brubeck doesn't have the entourage to smooth the way.)

      Touring can be a lot less wearing then they used to make it. After all, tearing up hotel rooms is optional, like riding motorcycles through the lobby and pitching TV's out the window. If you cut back the really wearing activity to the actual performance (and if you take the nannies on tour with you, I'd say that's a safe bet,) then it becomes a much less daunting task.

  • 1) Sing
    2) ???
    3) Profit!

    At least someones got it right...
  • That much money must involve Sympathy for the Devil ;-)
  • by SailorBob ( 146385 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @08:05AM (#4306571) Homepage Journal

    Of course, it wasn't just the taxman's pinch that forced the Rolling Stones to focus on the bottom line. They also got screwed by record labels. "In the early days you got paid absolutely nothing," recalls Jagger. "The only people who earned money were the Beatles because they sold so many records."

    By the mid-'60s the Stones had reportedly sold ten million singles, including "Satisfaction," and five million albums, but the band was still living hand to mouth. "I'll never forget the deals I did in the '60s, which were just terrible," says Jagger. "You say, 'Oh, I'm a creative person, I won't worry about this.' But that just doesn't work. Because everyone would just steal every penny you've got."

    • Now now, now. Despite being lazy, greedy, opportunistic bastards colluding to monopolize the airwaves of america, RIAA, in the sole case of acting legally against Napster et al, really is protecting the artists.

      After all, it was the artists who raised such a ruckus, when they found unreleased (and unfinished) copies of their songs as MP3s on Napster which started the whole legal shebang. Left to their own devices, RIAA would never have lifted a finger against P2P.

      Now, if only we had enough data for a marketing queen (must be smarter than a drone) to explain to Madonna and Lars why controlled and proactive P2P actually increases their record sales...
  • Interesting article, not least for the information that Charlie is involved in the merchandising side of the operation - not that it's a particularly big earner, but it's an indication that the original founding Stones like to keep things in the family, so to speak.

    Just one point: the article didn't mention it, but the Stones (and the Beatles, and The Who, and Bob Dylan, and... ) hit the top in the mid to late '60s when the trailing edge of the post-WW2 baby-boom had reached adolesence, which hasn't harmed the longevity of the respective brands... Keith Richards once remarked apropos his love for R&B, that people tend to remain attached to the music that was popular at the time of their first significant interpersonal relationship.

    Well, he may have put it a little more pithily than that, but you get the idea.
  • No mention in a Slashdot article of the Stones' stance on P2P and file 'sharing' ??? Sounds to me like, as astute businessmen and musicians, their opinions would be highly relevant.
  • I'm sure Mick would be the first to say "Nothing in life is 'FreeJack', you gotta work for it".

    (Heh, could not resist the movie ref, I just got the DVD a few weeks ago for $6 )
  • Did anyone else catch how akwardly showhorned in the Keith Richards quotes were? It seemed like the editor felt compelled that Keith must be quoted at least once per page.

    page 2.
    Keith, for his part, just shakes his head: "It's a mom-and-pop operation," he laughs. "Mick is the mom, and I'm the pop, and then we have these offspring that need feeding."

    Perhaps Keith sums it up best: "With our business, who really knows what's what. You go and look at Lake Superior, and you say, 'Look at all that water, and that's just the top!' "

    I'd go on, but they're much funnier in context, so go read the article.

  • Why is everyone so surprised that Jagger and co. are interested in business? After all don't rock stars want to be "*Rich* and Famous". And like most things in life it helps to be talented *and* hardworking.

    There was a cool profile of Puff Daddy in a recent New Yorker in which it was revealed that he spends more time at the office than in clubs. But no one ever made it in the hip hop world by shouting about how they are a suburban catholic school educated grind.
  • Success as has-beens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday September 22, 2002 @01:04PM (#4307488) Homepage
    The really funny thing about this is that the big money came long after they were has-beens. The big breakthrough seems to have been when they dumped Bill Graham Presents in 1989, and started producing their own tours. It's not that they're any more successful as musicians, it's that they got their business model under control.

    This could go on for a long time. Elvis dead makes more money than Elvis did living.

  • ... oh, yea, I guess I can believe it.
  • Duhhh.....Popular music is fundamentally a business like any other economic activity. You deliver the value,product or service..if you like pay for it. If no one buys it does not continue to get created/produced...Pretty basic..Though it took owners 4 years and billions of wasted dollars to figure that out(ie, software solutions looking for problems to solve)
  • '89. Their first, maybe second, farewell tour. That is, they've booked a bil and a half since they *quit* touring. And they still suck.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.