Athletes and entertainers face unique wealth management opportunities, considerations and challenges. The athletes and entertainers we interviewed shared their personal stories and perspectives to highlight the need for more financial education in the sports and entertainment world. We thank them for being strong advocates of financial literacy.
“Nothing changes if you don’t buy that expensive car or watch. You can enjoy your success, but think about your future. If this is your only hit record, how are you going to make sure you live well 25 years from now? Stay involved with all aspects of managing your wealth.”
Rising out of poverty
The first song Rico cowrote as a professional songwriter was “Throwback,” featured on Usher’s 2004 Confessions album, which sold over 29 million copies worldwide. It was a heady start for the then 21-year-old, who grew up splitting his time between living with his mother in Milwaukee and his father in Harlem. His parents divorced when he was young, and there were some tough times. Money was not discussed openly, but Rico and his sisters would overhear their parents worrying about finances. “All I heard was, ‘We need money to do this and that’ and ‘We don’t have money.’”
Growing up impoverished left Rico ill-prepared for the fame and fortune that would rain on him. “A person who grows up in poverty thinks, ‘You have to work today so you can eat tomorrow.’ The idea of saving money is not there. It's not a necessity to save because you are only thinking of today and tomorrow. You're just trying to survive.”
The lifeline of music
Ever since he was a child, Rico knew he wanted to be a musician. As astudent at Florida A&M University, he made weekend bus trips to recording studios in Atlanta. Rico’s musical talents won the attention of some big names. “Usher heard about me and invited me to meet him. He offered me a record contract.”
Rico’s publishing deal included an advance and royalties for three song options. Rico is a “topline” songwriter—he writes the lyrics and melody for premade music tracks. Credit for songs is split between the topline songwriter and the track producer, so he needed to topline six songs to meet the three-song option requirement. Additional collaborators and the use of “samples” from other recordings results in further splits. Rico soon learned that there are many hands in the revenue pot.
The huge success of Usher’s Confessions album thrust Rico into the limelight. “I had something. I was blessed with a gift.” Rico opted to take smaller advances because it allowed him to do more work. “Advances are recouped before royalties are paid anyway. Because I kept my rates affordable, the record companies saw that they were making their money back and not taking a big risk with me.”
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