Mick Jagger: The Rolling Stones’ back catalogue might go to charity

Mick Jagger (C) with models Georgia May Jagger and Elizabeth Jagger attend the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Mick Jagger attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party with his daughters Georgia May (left) and Elizabeth (right) - Kevin Mazur/VF17

The Rolling Stones catalogue may eventually be given to charity instead of being sold for a huge sum of money, Mick Jagger has suggested.

The band’s frontman, 80, discussed plans for one of the most prestigious catalogues in music history, as well as his business acumen, in a new interview.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal about a sale of the band’s post-1971 tracks, he said: “The children don’t need $500 million to live well, come on,” before suggesting that it may go to charity, adding – “You maybe do some good in the world.”

Jagger is father to eight children, ranging in age from six to 52. He had his first child, Karis, in 1970 with actress Marsha Hunt and the following year he had his second daughter, Jade, with ex-wife Bianca Jagger.

He shares four children with Jerry Hall, daughters Elizabeth, 39, and Georgia May, 31, as well as sons James, 38, and Gabriel, 25.

In 1999, he had Lucas, 24, with model Luciana Morad Gimenez and in 2016 he had his youngest, Deveraux, with Melanie Hamrick.

Gabriel Jagger, James Jagger, Sir Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Georgia May Jagger
(L to R) Gabriel Jagger, James Jagger, Sir Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall and Georgia May Jagger - David M. Benett/Getty Images

Sir Mick insisted that there were no plans to sell the catalogue as it stands, as he also dismissed ideas that he had any intention to pen an autobiography.

His comments came after the announcement that the Stones were releasing their first album of original material in nearly two decades, titled Hackney Diamonds.

In a press conference earlier this month, the trio confirmed they had abided by a tight schedule to record the new 12-track album, due Oct 20, at studios in Paris, London, the Bahamas, New York and Los Angeles.

It marks the band’s first album of new songs since 2005’s A Bigger Bang, leading to Jagger joking that they had “been lazy,” despite being on tour almost every year for the last decade.

‘If you don’t do it, you get f----d’

Speaking to the Journal, Sir Mick said that he never intended to build the Stones into rock music’s first colossal – and longest-standing – brand name, but that he had to do so as a form of self-preservation.

“One of the things I’m really proud of, with the Stones, is that we pioneered arena tours, with their own stage, with their own sound and everything, and we also did the same with stadiums,” he said, adding: “I mean, nobody did a tour of stadiums.”

This initiative by the Stones has now paved the way for artists in every genre to commercialise their own music with lucrative tours, branding, merchandise and sponsorships.

However, the singer admitted that he doesn’t actually like the business side of the band’s affairs, saying: “Some people just love it. I just have to do it.”

“Because if you don’t do it, you get f----d,” he added.

‘Look what happened to Taylor Swift!’

The Stones’ 1972 US tour is widely credited with ushering in the modern stadium concert era, in which pop stars like Beyonce and Taylor Swift are estimated to have established records for the highest-grossing tours – grossing well over $1 billion (£820 million) each.

The band’s pioneering, however, stemmed partially from serious financial troubles in the 70s, after a court battle for ownership of their music recorded before 1971.

ABKCO Music & Records still owns the copyright for their early music and the contested ownership of a musician’s catalogue continues to be an issue, made arguably more prevalent by the rise of the online streaming model.

On this subject, Jagger told the Journal: “The industry was so nascent, it didn’t have the support and the amount of people that are on tap to be able to advise you as they do now.

“But you know, it still happens … look what happened to Taylor Swift! I don’t really know the ins and outs of it, but she obviously wasn’t happy.”

Swift became embroiled in a battle over her master recordings with music executive Scooter Braun in 2019 after he bought her former record label, Big Machine Records.

With this purchase, he became the owner of the catalogue of her first six studio albums, which he then sold to a private equity firm owned by the Disney family estate.

She voiced dismay over the deal, called Braun a bully and retaliated by re-recording and re-releasing all her early albums under the “Taylor’s Version” tag – versions that have now far outstripped the original albums’ sales.

‘We might drag it out a bit’

‌On the other hand, many artists have sold the rights to their music for huge paydays in recent years, such as Bruce Springsteen, who earned a reported $500 million (£409 million) when he sold his entire back catalogue to Sony Music Group in 2021.

Keith Richards has previously addressed the same idea for the Stones, in an interview with CBS This Morning last March, but said it was a “sign of getting old”.

‌“Mick and I have not spoken about it on a serious level,” he said.

‌“I don’t know if we’re ready to sell our catalogue. We might drag it out a bit, put some more stuff in it. The only thing about selling your catalogue … it’s a sign of getting old.”

News of the group’s Hackney Diamonds album followed, and Jagger teased that this would not be their final original album, despite the band members all hitting or nearing their octogenarian years.

“We have a whole album of songs we haven’t released,” Jagger told the Journal, adding: “I have to finish them.”