BY ROBERT INTELISANO
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure and privilege of flying to Pittsburgh to see the Rolling Stones play an outdoor concert at Heinz Field. One of my favorite rock bands, I saw the Stones on their 1989 Steel Wheels tour in Philadelphia and at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, to name a few.
That 1989 tour is when the Stones changed what was a typical stadium tour into a theatre-like setting. Other than perhaps Kiss, the Rolling Stones have mastered the marketing of their brand and logo, namely the famous big red lips and tongue. For Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, rock and roll is big business.
The Stones last played Heinz Field in 2015. Their revenue from that 2015 Pittsburgh show was $9,000,000 from the 50,000-plus fans that attended. Mick Jagger, arguably the best front man in history, is what makes the Rolling Stones different from all other bands.
Few people know that Jagger spent some of his teenage years studying finance and economics at the prestigious London School of Economics before quitting school to start a band. Most bands concentrate on their craft and leave the day-to-day business operations to their agents. Not 78-year-old Mick, whose net worth is over $360 million.
The Rolling Stones operate like a well-oiled business with 300 employees, and it costs them $1 million per week to keep the show on the road. They had 11 people on stage and many more behind the scenes. In a 1994 interview with Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes (the 14-minute interview can be seen on YouTube), Jagger referred to himself as the “Chief Executive of Business Operations of a Mobile Virtual Corporation.”
Here are five lessons business owners can learn from Mick Jagger:
1. It is not enough to have a great idea or product. There have been many great bands over the years, however only a few have all members financially secure for life. It takes business skills to know what gigs to book, how to promote new albums, how much to charge for tickets, and how to manage employees.
2. Learn from your mistakes. The Stones lost big money in the 1960’s. Jagger was quoted in a 2002 Fortune Magazine article saying, “I’ll never forget the deals I did in the 60’s, which were just terrible. You say, oh, I’m a creative person, I won’t worry about this, but that just doesn’t work!”
3. Do not give up: One Stones song carries a message for small business owners. “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need!”
4. Stay relevant: One of the reasons the Stones have had staying power through generations is because they keep people talking. Whether putting out new albums, licensing their old songs to new movies, the Stones continue to be a topic of conversation. Attending Queens Chamber events is a good way to stay relevant!
5. Understand the importance of collaboration: Jagger has made many savvy decisions about partners. Two band members, until drummer Charlie Watts recently passed away, have been with him since the 1960’s. Others have shuttled through the band over the years. It is important to know when to make changes for the betterment of the band or business.
Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones have lived long and storied lives. Since Jagger has eight children with five women, it is good that he has been prudent with his money. He made an excellent career choice, and when you do what you love, work will never be a chore. Rock on Rolling Stones!