Asset Management

The Stones fled the UK 40 years ago in order to pay less/no UK tax, so there’s a long-standing precedent for the avoidance activities currently being indulged in by the likes of Starbucks, Amazon et al. 

But what business activity are Jay-Z and Beyoncé setting an example for in their attempt to trademark their daughter’s name? Sounds a bit like something the megalomaniacal Apple might do, except that branding is really important to them and protecting business interests is what trademarking is all about.

No, sorry, I simply can’t get my head around these two immensely rich people attempting to get even richer by exploiting their child. Their products should be boycotted, shouldn’t they?

28 thoughts on “Asset Management

  1. I’m a bit disinclined to hold the Stones’ Exile against them, and not just because i’m biased and we got such a magnificent masterpiece of an album out of the deal (ok, perhaps a slight bit of bias there). The UK tax rate at the time was 98% on any income over 200,000 quid at the time, and i think that’s bullshit however you slice it. There is a Laffer curve, as mercurial to pin down as it is. Adele and Tracey Emin whining about 50% these days is a bit different, you can still have a very decent life on 50% of what they rake in.

    as for Mr. and Mrs. Z, they’re basically just pimps now. I don’t need to boycott anything because i wouldn’t buy any of Mr. Z’s vodka or chmpagne or try to get into any of his clubs anyway. His music got boring quite awhile ago anyway (shame, he used to be very good), and i like her first solo song and that was it for me.

    • I didn’t mean to be mean to your fave band, amy, but they were the first example of capitalist-shit musicians I thought of in my anger and disgust at these two.
      (I know 98% is a bit steep but income of £200k pa. was rather a lot of money back then and their flight turned them from anti-Establishment rebels to greedy bastards overnight in my young eyes.)

      • I don’t take Stones disses personally Chris, no worries! And you weren’t being mean to them, no doubt they can take it. I’d think them shitbags more because the nasty contracts they had basically locked Mick Taylor out of recieving any royalties for the inestimable contribution he made to their very best work.

  2. How about boycotting them just on the basis of taste, just ignore ’em.
    But when I see statements like ‘the megalomaniacal Apple’ my hackles rise especially when it comes from such a strong proponent of the near defunct Windows system. I bought my first Mac in 1986 and have had one ever since, for most of those years Apple occupied a mere 2-3% of the worldwide market share, Windows loudly claimed 90%+. If there’s any megalomania it lies therein.
    In recent years primarily because of the excellence of the Apple system and the advent and acceptance of iPods, iPads and iPhones those roles have been dramatically reversed, Apple’s now in the drivers seat and Windows seems about to go under. Excellence prevails!
    Looking forward to the next Spill challenge.

    • Oh dear, it looks like I’ve stirred up more than I planned!
      OK, Windows has always been technically and aesthetically inferior to the Apple products but at least Gates gave people an option. He took the view that, if you make it open and available for everyone to run their own software on, it will be popular. This was in direct contrast to the old IBM approach of ‘conform or die’. Jobs & co went back to this approach but with a significant twist: if you make it super-cool, you can decide who is allowed to join your club, but they have to play by your rules. Apple products are defiantly proprietorial and they sue the f*ck out of anyone who seems to be stepping on their toes (see Samsung at the moment).
      We’re on the verge of returning to the IBM era in computing where a few, very large, very litigious companies (Apple, Amazon and Google primarily) control the whole thing. If Windows disappears, choice will diminish and prices will rise.

      • You know Gates was in court here for anti-trust violations? He won, but i think only because other options were becoming available anyway.

      • Yes, I know Gates wasn’t a saint (although maybe he’s atoning for that now with his Foundation) but it was still a much more open deal than Apple has ever wanted.

      • They’re suing Samsung et al for patent infringement, and so they should, they’ve built their reputation on the quality of their designs and rightfully resent the competition stealing it, which started long ago with Microsoft.
        It’s not a question of ‘who’s allowed to join your club’, there’s a free choice involved, people are freely buying Apple products because they choose to, because they appreciate the features that no one else is offering, particularly the Windows group. And are you suggesting that Apple doesn’t make their operating system open and available, there’s a 3 day convention in SF every year where independent programmers come together to show and share their Apple oriented software, there’s thousands of them.

      • Anyone can design apps for Apple products and put them on the app store. Any books, podcasts, music, etc can be uploaded to the Apple store for sales and download. Granted, Apple takes a large percentage of sales, but if you sell millions of an app or book or tune or whatever, you stand to make a very healthy chunk of change. Apple makes the software for app development and iBook formatting available to all. I’ve said before that i make a (much smaller) chunk of change designing cases for iThings. So i don’t have much beef with Apple either.

      • The law of unintended consequences seems to have kicked in…. It’s Mr & Mrs Z I was attacking!

        Final point: Windows applications run on any PC except Macs; Apple applications only run on Macs (you can apply the same statement to hand-held devices). No-one pays Microsoft to put apps on their platform; everyone pays Apple. Microsoft’s approach doesn’t give them hardware revenue; Apple’s approach makes them gazillions of dollars from hardware (for which they set the prices).

      • Long time since i even touched any Windows so things may have changed – but there used to be a crapload of popups and ads and viruses and all sorts of crap. Bill made his money on it, don’t you worry. Just in a different way than Apple does.

      • Google Chrome runs on any system i believe. But don’t think they don’t make their money from it either – they had a suit against them here for harvesting information from the browser – which they used for their own search and ad selling purposes. They pulled from a leak in the Safari browser too.

  3. I don’t think Mr & Mrs Z are really worth bothering about.
    Of course all Windows apps run on Windows and all Apple apps run on Apple and all Windows also run on Apple if you install the Parallels software. Regardless of who pays who Bill Gates got his from somewhere to become the richest man in the world from his Microsoft business!
    I know you have a thing about Apple but I’m curious why you choose to pick on them, why not any or all of the petroleum conglomerates, Shell, Exon, BP, Chevron all have profits in excess of Apple’s and all are more deserving of scrutiny given the way their prices are manipulated. How about Wall St and the banks, they’re making enormous profits and for who’s benefit? Not mine. To my mind ‘megalomaniacal’ is much more appropriate for this bunch, Apple was a poor choice.
    Then there is the business about Microsoft’s refusing to give it’s users access to other than their pathetic browser, but we won’t go there, let me instead suggest that you check out iBooks-author, another one of Apples free programs, like so many of the others, it’s wonderful.

  4. I wouldn’t be interested in anything by Beyonce or Jay Z anyway, but it does seem sad to cash in on your child’s name. I’m going to sound like an old fart but I am really saddened by celebrity culture and all that goes with it, the bread and circuses approach of this apology for a government and the emphasis on what people have rather than what people are.

    Not saying that I’m a shining example of moral rectitude either, but hey ho, better an old fart than an egomaniac!

  5. Suspect even the “Dead” might have paying 95% of their earnings to “the man” uncool.

    Pete Townsend is the only star I know of who maintained UK residency during this period, but even he made whatever legal arrangements he could to shelter his earnings & why shouldn’t he?

    & I’m an Apple fan – it just works. Unlike Microsoft, which is always just an “update” away from collapsing again, like the house of cards it is.

  6. Don’t know about branding babies, but thought I’d join the Apple debate.

    Due to a succession (well, OK….2) of creative girlfriends and a Mac-enthusiast IT manager at my last job, I only ever used Macs until starting at my current workplace….I honestly didn’t know anything about Windows or Microsoft and I couldn’t believe just how shit it was! Their programmes seem deliberately designed to be as annoying and obscure as possible….and as Shoey says, they just don’t really work.

    I taught some Business English Training courses at Apple Japan a few years ago, just before it all kicked off and their profits went stratospheric. It was a strange workplace…all very secretive, even amongst employees. When a new product was launched, most of the employees themselves didn’t know what was coming, only the rumours that everyone else knew.

    Saying that, they were all very very clever indeed and definitely thought differently to the rest of us. There was one woman who had something to do with research that always asked me these strange Herzogian questions about my music listening and computer using habits. They were always seemingly trivial points she picked up on, but which, I presume, revealed a profounder truth to her. When I told her I wasn’t a good person to ask as my listening habits weren’t typical (pretty much all vinyl, no iPod etc) she was even more interested and asked me more and more, she always said that the untypical was the most important to understand.

  7. Well, this’ll teach me to pick a target without having the full information pack with which to back up my assertion!

    Time will tell with Apple. I still maintain that they are inordinately keen to control 100% of their market (so I stand by ‘megalomaniacal’). They do it by having excellent products – and I can’t argue with that as a goal – and superb marketing but they also hate competition and charge a significant premium for their ‘cool’ element. [I’m not opening the can of worms containing their production outsourcing set-up.] I’d be interested to know of any businesses that use Apple products on a large scale (outside of the arty farty markety companies): I doubt there are many, due to the limited openness of the software and the extra cost, compared to bog-standard PCs.

    But all I really wanted to say was: aren’t Jay-Z and Beyoncé a couple of despicable shits? Hey-ho.

  8. I suspect that you may not have watched the Apple iPad show yesterday, if you had you might have heard CEO Tim Cook announce that they’d sold over 100 million units since it was released just over 2 years ago and that 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies use iPads “in an official capacity.” Plus it’s being widely used in education; schools and universities are restructuring their curriculums to adapt to the iPad. I doubt that ‘coolness’ enters into their buying decisions.

    Last word, I decided to see what ‘megalomaniacal’ actually means since I didn’t think it applied to Apple, the dictionary states:

    1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
    2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.

    Did these apply during all those years when we had 3% of the market?
    ‘Nuff said.

  9. Want something to really get disgusted with the Stones about? Look no further –

    The band shrugs off grumbling about the $800-plus it’s charging for the best tickets. “As Keith said, ‘Sounds about right,'” says Wood. “I’d pay it! We already spent, like, a million on rehearsing, and we’re not even halfway through. And the stage is going to cost millions and millions.”

    …the Rolling Stones have gotten it together just in time to celebrate their latest anniversary onstage. But Mick Jagger isn’t inclined to get all mushy about the achievement. “I wanted to call the tour ‘Fuck Off,'” Jagger says. “But no one went for that.”

    No, you fuck off, Mick. Christ.

    • As a fan, that must really piss you off. To me, it just confirms the feeling I had back when they escaped the UK tax regime. I sometimes find it difficult not to see the whole thing as one big we’re-not-The-Beatles-see-how-rebellious-we-are scam. They made some good records but, fundamentally, they were only ever in it for the money.

      Love the ‘Heroin’ story from your Black Crowe man, btw. They could be a real mean bunch.

      • Well, i think it’s a especially rich for them to be charging that much when they’re well past prime. I wouldn’t be itching to see them live these days anyway. But if i was, it sure wouldn’t be for a stage show, couldn’t give a shit about that. Some of the comments said that they should give something back to the fans and play small venues, i’d be delighted to see them in that context. And Glasto does sound tempting.

        I just noticed that i called Jerry’s Comes a Time a cover in that post, but as i just got up i’m too lazy to login and change it right now.

      • btw, want to do a post making a case fro the Dead as best cover artists? I thought about it, but you’d do a much better job of it. I also considered Phish until i heard how they butchered the whole of Exile on Main Street.

      • You do it if you want amy. My angle would be ‘hear how beautifully they play music’ rather than ‘listen how this version is better than that’. I just wouldn’t do the comparative research and many folk would see it as yet another adoring Deadhead post! But I’d be happy to look for the ‘best’ version of a cover you suggest for your post (email me, if you want to collaborate).
        If you do it, stay away from their Beatles covers, though; I’ve never heard them do a good one. Pig’s attempts at Hey Jude were particularly awful.

    • Collaboration sounds like a great idea. Let me get my work week done with here. I’m definitely down with the “see how beautifully they play this too” angle. I’d stay away from some oldies too, there was one particular early concert on archive where they must have been off their tits, it was all oldies and they made a hash of nearly every one of them!

      I try to stick with the “listen to this” approach to make my case anyway. I reference the other covers because they’re going to be known to many, but if an artist doesn’t make the song their own in some way, it’s not going to work anyway.

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