…what can a poor boy do,
‘cept to sing for a rock & roll band…
A couple issues back, Mick and Keith were on the cover of Fortune magazine. I know what you’re thinking. I’m going to launch into some sort of self-righteous flaying of the Glimmer Twins. But that’s far from the case. All that glimmers isn’t gold.
The reason for the cover story is, of course, that the boys make money. Lots of money. The kind of money that we wish we had. As Andy Serwer explains in the story, “Since 1989 alone, for instance, the band has sold more than 38 million albums at roughly $12 each, for gross proceeds of over $460 million.” Recognize: That’s gross. And it’s not like just Mick and Keith are getting all the money.
And let’s not underestimate the kind of problems that these guys have. You and I can pretty much live wherever we want to live. OK. Where we can afford to live. But that’s no difference from them. Once again, from Fortune:
“The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws,” says Keith. Marlboro in one hand, vodka and juice in the other. “It’s why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it.”
You think it’s easy being rich? These poor guys had to move out of their homeland: Keith is quoted: “We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. I don’t want to screw anybody out of anything, least of all the governments that I work with.” See, just as you and I have to worry about working with people in government—say, the people at the Department of Motor Vehicles—the Stones have issues, too. Maybe they’re in a slightly higher tax bracket, but no one can accuse them of not being sensitive.
Take ticket prices for the Licks tour. Once again, from Serwer’s story:
Jagger is happy to delve into the topic. “This is one element of the business thing that I try to really control as much as I can,” he says. “Pricing a concert ticket is very different from pricing a Lexus or toothpaste. It’s more like a sports event. And you are prepared to pay the market price. So if U2 or Madonna costs $100 (I’m making these up), you don’t want to be charging $200. I try to keep ticket prices within the market price range. It’s America. We’re not living in a socialist society where we’re all paid so low and no one can afford it.”
See, he knows that we’re all concerned with good oral hygiene. And that we’re not socialists. And while they won’t be pulling in the kind of money that previous tours made (Voodoo Lounge, ’94-’95, ~$370 million; Bridges to Babylon/No Security, ’97-’99, >$390 million), that’s not their concern. No, they want to make sure that not only do we have good grooming practices, but that we look good, too. Serwer notes that the tour will be chock-a-block full of purchasing opportunities of quality Stones wear: “Jagger tells me that there will be some 50 products—such as underwear by Britain’s Agent Provocateur and new, expensive items like shirts, jackets, and, yes, dresses.”
Do you remember how your grandpa always made sure that you were always wearing clean underwear? Just think of Mick and Keith just like that.