David Macklovitch, 43, one half of the Grammy-nominated electro-funk duo Chromeo, came from a family that thought it was "kind of uncouth to talk about money," he says, adding that his parents were "very European" in that respect.
Chromeo began releasing music in the early 2000s. As the band took off, Macklovitch began to learn more about his own personal finances and about the finances of being artist. "I think being hands on [is key], especially when you're a musician or a small-business owner ― it's the same thing," he says. Being on top of your expenditures and activities, "that's how you prosper."
The band recently teamed up with Cadillac on a video featuring the company's 2021 Cadillac Escalade and a Chromeo original tune, "Real Breezy." On the heels of the collab, Macklovitch, whose stage name is Dave 1, chatted with Grow about his financial advice for artists and musicians.
Macklovitch's partner in the band, Patrick Gemayel, whose stage name is P-Thugg, studied accounting in school. "So as we grew up with Chromeo," says Macklovitch, "we made sure our accounting and the business side of our band was air-tight." The band kept meticulous track of how much they spent and earned at shows, for example, so they always knew what they were walking away with and where the band stood financially.
"Run the tightest ship possible," Macklovitch advises other artists, adding that, "even if you don't know how to use Excel, do the back-of-napkin [budget] or, like, on paper just make little charts. Stay on top of your own accounting." Monitor every aspect of running your band or acting career or painting gig "so that you can grow your business."
Macklovitch and Gemayel joked about how meticulous they were about their finances. In the early days of Chromeo, when the band was playing festivals, "we'd be playing on a smaller stage," says Macklovitch, "and P used to watch the act on the big stage and be like, 'We're walking out with more than them because I know I'm keeping a tighter budget.'"
Macklovitch's second piece of advice: "Find a business model that suits you best."
"Certain artists don't have to tour but they make a ton of money off of streaming," he says. "Certain artists don't make money off touring but they make a ton of money off merch. Certain artists make no money off merch but they've got their tour accounting so tight that that's where their money is."
That's where staying on top of your accounting helps as well. It's not just about making sure you're not overspending day to day or gig to gig but about seeing what among your activities is resonating with an audience and figuring out how, at least in part, you can pivot your activities to ensure that revenue stream continues.
"We started during the piracy era, so money from sales of music was never an option," Macklovitch says of Chromeo's model. "That's why we built a robust touring business."
Ultimately, he says, "every artist needs to find their financial niche."
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