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Duff McKagan: The rock star accountant

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15th Nov 2012
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Accountancy and the debauched 1980s LA metal scene might seem at odds with each other to the casual observer, but when Guns N' Roses’ Duff McKagan finally sobered up he discovered a new passion: crunching numbers.

In 1994 the bass player ruptured his pancreas and, fuelled by a distrust of anybody in the music industry and with a lot of time on his hands, he went about trying to understand his filing cabinet full of G’N’R financial statements.

McKagan enrolled in an accountancy class at Santa Monica College and progressed from there to the Albers School of Business at Seattle University.

It was here that finance became a “living and fascinating” thing for McKagan, where he could apply lessons from class immediately to his work in the music business.

Word got around about his degree in finance, and McKagan found he was being taken more seriously in business meetings.

McKagan soon became “the voice of business from within the music industry” and even had the Wall Street Journal lining up to talk money with him.

“I do think that there was, in a sense, fear that one of the ‘rock guys’ was going to knock down the house of cards that is the record business. Cool shit,” he said in one of his “Duffonomics” columns for Playboy magazine.

He said the column had two objectives: to help “educate” readers; and “bring down The Man”, by offering advice ranging from day-to-day money issues to an explanation of the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis.

In a recent interview with The Independent, he explained that how he now delivers “sage advice” through his Meridian Rock wealth-management company for musicians.

“When the record company pays you an advance, it is just that – an advance,” McKagan advised new bands. “And it's at worse rates than any bank would charge you to pay them back. Plus they'll charge you for all kinds of crap you don't ever see.”

In the article he also claimed that Duff beer in the Simpsons was named in honour of his heavy drinking, and that he could have made a fortune from the royalties had he known about licensing back in 1988 when Fox approached him.

More recently he topped the New York Times best-seller list with his autobiography ‘It's So Easy (And Other Lies)’.

Last year AccountingWEB unearthed a selection of rock royalty, including the likes of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Lou Reed, who have dabbled with careers in accountancy.

Have you got any more rock star accountant anecdotes to add to our AccountingWEB Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? We’ll be giving away a free copy of Duff’s autobiography for the best story and discussing it in the AccountingWEB Book Group.

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By asillahi
16th Nov 2012 11:15

How do we go the other way

I'm an accountant but wld like a career in rock music. Does anyone have any tips? I think Genesis should reform with me at the drums.

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By Thehazyman
16th Nov 2012 11:55

Rockers to accountants

I saw G'N'R twice in the early nineties when I was a student.  I doubt either Duff or myself thought we would end up in the world of finance.  Those were happy days!

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By Tom 7000
16th Nov 2012 12:43

Iron maiden

I think their lead singers a BMI pilot

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By carnmores
17th Nov 2012 23:52

Bruce Dickinson would be horrified at that

until my autobiography my lips are sealed, i was there i survived :-)

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By trevv69
18th Nov 2012 18:02

Comedy is the new Rock'n'Roll...
... So they say, so Eddie Izzard, accountancy student turned comedy superstar surely counts.

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By carnmores
18th Nov 2012 20:06

back in the good old days !
Touring was the poor relation with the records companies coughing up tour support ie giving the band some of their own royalties to big up the record companies share. Touring is where a lot of the money is tho most of it remains with the publisher

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