Rock’n’roll used to be a passport to fame and fortune, a favourite aspiration of working class kids the nation over, though that ticket out of the gutter becomes ever more elusive. Nowadays even bona fide rap sensations are seeking gainful employment. Obama-baiting MC Lupe Fiasco recently revealed to Billboard that he’d taken on a new full-time job as creative director of a healthy living app. “I’m still doing the rapper thing,” he says, “but I got a legit 9 to 5 now…”
Lupe might be alone in ‘fessing up, but more members of bands than you’d care to name need to take a second job to support themselves these days. Fact is, they just don’t want you to know they’re not riding on easy street. Go on, rattle the cage of your office temp right now, I bet they turn out to be the trumpeter in Wolf Alice or something. You’ll see! Mind you, having said all that, some artists get second jobs because a) they’re bored, b) they’re greedy, or c) simply for shits and giggles. Like this lot…
Mick Jagger – Venture capitalist
When little Mick made good with The Rolling Stones in the early 60s, his mum must have thought that business degree he obtained from the LSE would go to waste. How wrong that assumption turned out to be. Mick runs the Rolling Stones like a CEO and is remarkably canny; he spotted early and lucrative sponsorship opportunities with the likes of Microsoft back in the 90s and is said to keep a map in his dressing room that indicates when the operation goes into profit on tour.
There was a window in the 120 years of the record business where performers made loads and loads of money out of records, but it was a very small window – say, 15 years between 1975 and 1990
With a mixture of stock investments, substantial property holdings and endorsements, Jagger is back on top as the highest paid singer in the world, raking in a ridiculous $46m between February 2012 and February 2013, according to People With Money.
Antipodean polymath Nick Cave certainly keeps himself busy. When he’s not writing or performing with his Bad Seeds or his other band Grinderman, he’s writing books or scoring soundtracks or successfully getting scripts turned into films by Hollywood. Credits include last year’s Lawless and 2005’s The Proposition, both filmed with director John Hillcoat and both starring Guy Pearce. The chrome-domed goth legend recently claimed his prolific output was a diversion from watching the porn channel on tour.
Jarvis Cocker certainly caused a quiver or two in university libraries across the country when it was announced he would take up a position as editor-at-large at renowned publishing house Faber & Faber (to coincide with the release of his ‘Mother, Brother, Lover’ book of lyrics), a role formerly filled by TS Eliot no less. If his musical endeavours and his new “broad commissioning role” weren’t enough, Cocker – who artfully manages to be a bookworm and an unlikely sex symbol at the same time – also presents his own Sunday Service radio show on 6Music.
Sign up for the newsletter
50 Cent – Boxing promoter
Built like a brick shithouse and 9-time bullet-dodger, it should come as no surprise that Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson is attracted to blood sports, though one probably envisaged him in the ring and not as the new Don King. Fiddy scored his first victory as a boxing promoter at the end of last year, when his SMS Promotions Cuban fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa won in Las Vegas, contributing heartily to Filipino fighter Michael Farenas’ future brain damage.
Everything Bryan Adams used to do, he did it for you (whether you asked him to or not). Then internal conflict – Benevolent Bryan was usurped by Bastard Bryan who lived only to please himself. And so Bryan became a photographer: it turned out he knew his aperture from his shutter speed. Campaigns followed for Fred Perry, Converse and Guess Jeans and he was asked to do shoots for Elle, Vogue and Esquire. He won awards in Germany and even took the shot of Amy Winehouse used on the posthumous ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’. True story.
Bono – Managing director
Tease Bono with even a glimpse of pie and he’ll soon have his fingers in it. When the vainglorious Irish micro-man isn’t at TED conferences explaining how he’ll eliminate poverty by 2030, he’s chucking his money around like there’s no tomorrow via his investment vehicle Elevation Partners. Only last year, he was being touted as Earth’s richest rock star, when he snapped up Facebook shares ahead of its flotation on the stock exchange. Sadly for the singer – real name Paul Hewson – the IPO turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, and he didn’t trouser anything like the sort of cash he was purported to be creaming. Even before the Zuckerberg-related debacle, 24/7 Wall St named him “The Worst Investor In America” for a plethora of tech turkeys he’d backed.
If British musicians are calculatedly coy about the kind of cash they make, then US artists have no such qualms shouting about their extraordinary wealth, especially in hip-hop. Jay-Z is the embodiment of the American dream: a crack dealing ne’er-do-well turned husband of pop queen Beyoncé and friend of President Obama. Then there’s all the cash he makes from Rocawear, the 40/40 Club, the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, as a board member and strategist for Budweiser Select yada yada… Last year he took home $38m, while it should be noted at this point that his wife Bey earned a cool $40m, mainly from celebrity endorsements.
Madonna – Gym owner
Rumour has it Madonna used to ask friends to punch her in the stomach, so hard were her abs. With her dedication to the gym and her considerable wealth it made sense to marry the two together and open her own gym, or a chain even, and become pop’s own Duncan Bannatyne. Hard Candy? I’m oot.
Alex James – Cheesemaker
“Blessed are the cheesemakers” goes the (misheard) line in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, though Alex James must have felt far from blessed recently. Blur’s once louche and cool bass player who traded in his credibility to hang out with Jeremy Clarkson in the Cotswolds, was almost ostracised by the Chipping Norton set when the company behind his Alex James Presents Harvest festival – Big Wheel Promotions – went bust. Worst of all, kids from the Kingham Primary School weren’t paid, and as James wasn’t allowed to talk about it for legal reasons he was perhaps unfairly cast as an arrogant villain. A concert in Chipping Norton was staged in December and most of the debt was paid back. “I pledged to raise the funds from my own pocket,” said James, “and we managed to return most of the money.”
David Bowie – Art critic
The Thin White Duke has certainly proved what a man of mystery he can be this year, with the immaculate execution of a campaign for his ‘The Next Day’ album that has seen it romp its way to fastest selling album of the year so far. Most Bowie fans will know he’s a keen art enthusiast, but many won’t realise that he worked on a magazine during the 90s. Bowie joined the editorial board for art magazine Modern Painters and, keen to contribute, he suggested getting an interview with the reclusive French painter Balthus who lived down the road from him in Switzerland. When Bowie told 86-year-old Balthus he would bring a writer along, the curmudgeonly painter said: “Heavens no, please don’t bring a critic,” and so Bowie took on the task himself, and wrote all 15,000 words of it. If he also transcribed it himself then hats off.