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The World's Richest Band

Mick's money doesn't come from record sales. From 29 July 2007.

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The Rolling Stones have pulled in over $10 billion the past 18 years. When they come to Sweden they're not just the world's greatest rock band - they're also one of the world's richest corporations.

Mick Jagger once said the lines in his face were from laughing so hard. And to be sure, the old rock star has a lot to laugh about. The Rolling Stones have over the past 18 years put over $10 billion in the bank. Net.

More Than Bozo and Bruce

If you add up the group's record sales, royalties, merchandising such as t-shirts, sponsor revenues, and tour revenues then the Rolling Stones have earned more than Bozo and Bruce, more than Michael Jackson. Yes more than anyone else in the industry.

'In our business you can't be sure of anything', said Keith Richards. 'It's like you're looking out over a big lake and thinking what a lot of water you see, but all you see is what's on the surface'. The Rolling Stones weren't incorporated until the 1970s when they hired the Dutch Promogroup to take care of their finances.

No Tax Please

The band's fortunes are managed from Amsterdam - where foreign musicians don't have to pay taxes - by the Bavarian-Austrian nobleman and financier Rupprecht Ludwig Ferdinand Prinz zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg or 'Roupie the Groupie' as the band call him.

The band announced this May they've ended their contract with 'Roupie' and taken over their own management. In 1985 they were offered $20 million for a recording contract and a chance to get back the rights to their own song catalogue. That's when the money started seriously rolling in.

'Every time they play our music on the radio I take a nap', said Keith Richard. 'I make money while I'm asleep.'

Five years ago Fortune magazine calculated that Jagger and Richards have since 1992 earned $3 billion by their songs being played on radio, in advertisements, and in films.

Biggest Money in Touring

But it's with the tours the Rolling Stones bring home the big money.

'When we started out there was no money to be made by playing in a rock band. There was no tour industry. Someone was making money but it definitely wasn't us', said Mick Jagger.

But all this has changed now. When the Rolling Stones go on tour today they have their legal advisers and accountants along with their guitars and amps. 'A Bigger Bang Tour', the tour they're out on now which arrives in Sweden on Friday, is the most profitable tour in rock history.

Two Years

The Stones have been on the road constantly since the tour began two years ago - save of course for a short break while Keith Richards recovered from that famous fall from the palm tree. In slightly more than two years they've earned $300 million by playing 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Brown Sugar' around Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.

The band have often been criticised for the ticket prices being so high. Swedish tickets have reached $150. 'But I try to keep the prices reasonable', said Jagger. 'But we don't live in a socialist society where everyone is paid poorly and no one can afford to see us.'

No Bestsellers

Whatever: three of history's most profitable rock tours ever are Rolling Stones tours. Since 1989 the band have earned more than $900 million on the road alone.

But when the band release a record it's hardly noticed in Jagger's and Richards' bank accounts. Their most recent bestseller? 1978's 'Some Girls'. That album sold a bashful 8 million copies.

The band have never sold a megahit like Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' or Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms'. But during their 45 years together the Rolling Stones have recorded over 40 studio albums and they're recycled again and again and again.

43 Million Old Records

Since 1989 the band have sold more than 43 million copies of their records; and they've earned more than $600 million on their sales. And that's not counting special editions.

'At first we didn't know how to manage this when our passion became our income. You know you don't start playing guitar because you want to be CEO of a major multinational', said Richards.

But that's what he is today. The world's greatest rock band are also the world's richest and they're playing in town on Friday.

So why reprint this old article about the world's richest rock band? Try looking again at the parts in bold if you still don't have a clue.

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