The Rolling Stones are a juggernaught of a band – they’ve outmanoeuvred, outpaced, and outlasted most of their critics and crowned themselves rock royalty. They’ve been everything from counter-culture to classic rock, but not everyone realises how much work has gone into the Stones Empire – nor do they realise that the front man with the funky strut is the one keeping the empire going.
Sir Michael Philip Jagger was born July 26, 1943 in Dartford, England. He attended the London School of Economics for a year, but soon dropped out. While school may have bored him, his knowledge sure came in handy – he’s now known as a Profits Maximizer. That title came with a price, paid in the early years of the Stones. Bad deals made with Decca cost the Stones the rights to songs written from 1960 to 1971 – a sore point to any musician. In 1970, after their contract with Decca Records expired, Jagger formed Rolling Stones Records with Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. Unlike Apple Records, flagship of the Beatles, Rolling Stone Records never made an attempt to sign other artists to its name, and remained dedicated to marketing the Stones, and the individual members’ solo albums. In 1992, the label was sold to Virgin Records, but the iconic tongue-and-lips logo remains on all albums created after 1970.
While the Stones might not have the merchandizing scheme of KISS, their strategy is different. They have a fantastic, disciplined approach to touring, and that’s where they pick up most of their profits. The record industry can rise and fall – downloads and file sharing can directly impact how well an album sells. Touring, however, is a much more predictable, profitable endeavour. While you can’t do anything except advertise to gain more album sales, adding more dates to your tour guarantees more income. Controlling your income by knowing what makes you money versus what doesn’t turns out to be a very effective strategy. Add to this by generating more royalties than should be physically possible, and you’ve got the makings of some serious Satisfaction.