Dull, inanimate, and invoking complete boredom is probably a common first impression of musicians glancing at the average finance journal. Unless you are deeply immersed in financial markets, papers like the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times are not your preferred reading material. Every now and then however, there are moments of glory when music and finance come together in the form of an article that speaks to both left brain and right brain.
One of these moments was the highly anticipated interview of Stephen Fry with Lady Gaga in this week-end’s edition of the Financial Times. If not for Lady Gaga, do yourself a favor and read it anyway. Stephen Fry, a “quintessentially English” actor, who also happens to be a fascinating writer well-versed in the subtleties of sarcasm, always leaves an impression and a smile on your face.
You may or may not approve of Lady Gaga’s flamboyant public persona, or of the music that has been described as rather madonna-esque, but the Pop Diva is a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. Her new album “Born This Way”, which could be downloaded for 99 cents at Amazon this week, brought Amazon’s sever to a stand-still; it is projected to sell a million copies within the first week. Her last major world tour in 2009 was said to be one of the most successful promotional tours ever and yet, it was one of the least profitable ones too. In her own words:
I put everything in the show, and I actually went bankrupt after the first extension of The Monster Ball. And it was funny because I didn’t know! And I remember I called everybody and said, “Why is everyone saying I have no money? This is ridiculous, I have five number one singles – and they said, ‘Well, you’re $3m in debt.’”
How could that be possible one might ask. A major recording artist running out of money, going bankrupt?
Well, it’s not the first time. The list of famous musicians that went bankrupt rivals any guest list at a red carpet Hollywood event. But poor money management skills are not limited to musicians only. Famous artists, movie stars, athletes and even some businessmen had to appear in bankruptcy courts. Their money problems were not caused by an inability to make money. They all made plenty of it, often tens of millions each year. Yet, the rules of finance apply to the big stars just as they apply to you and me. The only way to get financially ahead is to spend less than you earn. “It’s not what you make but what you keep!”
In Lady Gaga’s case, the scary part from a financial perspective is the fact that she was technically bankrupt and “she didn’t know.” Granted, things get slightly more complicated when you have to manage a larger pile of money and essentially run a multi-million dollar business. But there is no excuse for “not knowing” at least a rough ball park figure and to put a stop on spending sprees before it is too late.
When Lady Gaga says “It’s honestly true that money means nothing to me” take a moment and consider the validity of her statement. It sounds like the most often quoted lie of successful people. Money always means something to them or else they would not spend much of their waking hours accumulating more of it. The value of money just has different meanings to different people. To someone living on the streets, $5 could mean the difference between having a meal for the day or going to bed hungry. To a young billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the difference between $5million and $10 million might cause him nothing more than a lame yawn. No matter who you are, whether you live on the streets or in a $30 million mansion, the rules of personal finance apply. If you can remember to spend less than you earn, you will get financially ahead!
As for Lady Gaga, she should consider learning the basics of personal finance. She could start by reading Money Music 101.
|Would someone kindly recommend it to her?||