After having hits and problems with Sony in almost equal measure, Sophie B. Hawkins went out on her own – she has done quite well:
- BANKRATE: How do you see your future, business-wise?
HAWKINS: The thing in business is you have to have something you own, even if it’s on a small level. Something that’s original and unique and has its own life. For me, that means owning my masters. I’m a songwriter. I’m 100 percent my own writer. So I always get checks. If someone else covers my songs, I get checks. If my song’s on the radio, I get checks. So the next step from being a songwriter was owning the actual masters, which is what I did when I left Sony. If I only sell 100 CDs at a concert, I get a lot of money from that, as opposed to 3 cents per when I was on Sony, which I never even saw because they always say you’re not recouped and can’t get any money.
BANKRATE: What was your economic picture like during the struggle with Sony?
HAWKINS: Because I had written all the songs and I had a hit, I had made a tremendous amount of money. Every time a royalty check came in, I fell on the floor, shocked. I didn’t understand how popular the songs were. And it’s still the case because those songs are played a lot. So my financial situation was good, but not as good as after I left Sony because I still had lots of people in my life siphoning off my money, and I wasn’t watching it. When I left Sony, I got rid of my business manager. I write all my own checks now. I had a year where I even kept my own books because I needed to learn about it. So now I do everything myself. I have different ways I invest — in land, stocks, bonds, in some funds. I have Ameritrade, E*Trade and I even have a more traditional Bear Stearns account. So I’m pretty flexible and very aware. I pay my bills twice a month on Sunday, religiously.
BANKRATE: When you have a hit song like “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” what is a song like that ultimately worth for you?
HAWKINS: It’s worth millions. I will leave my catalog to my children. If there’s still radio and people still play songs, it’ll be worth something to them. Because even a small success like “Walking in My Blue Jeans” has amazing royalties. Even songs that aren’t even radio hits will get played in Europe, songs off the album, cuts that you never would think get played in Singapore or Israel. You just can’t believe the numbers.
BANKRATE: So even a song that’s not big here is making you a lot of money?
HAWKINS: Yes. I also keep my overhead down. That’s my biggest philosophy. I spend very little on a car, and I lease only because it’s a deduction for my corporation, otherwise I would buy. I rent a studio that’s very cheap. But where I put my money is in my work, my gear, my studio. Not too much money, but enough so I can keep totally current and professional. I don’t spend a lot on clothes. I take Jet Blue. I’m very much into keeping the cost of my life down so I can enjoy it.
BANKRATE: You mentioned you had a lot of people siphoning off of you. How much do you think you lost because of people like that?
HAWKINS: So much that it gives me a stomach ache. So many millions. The first thing Gigi (her current manager) did is say, ‘What the hell is happening with your money?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And she said, ‘That’s a big problem.’ Because she knew the business. When I finally looked at it and saw that my business manager was making more than me at the end of the year, after taxes and all that, she said, ‘Sophie, this is ridiculous. How hard is your business? How many checks do you really write?’ [Bankrate.com]