|Rapper Notorious B.I.G. hit the nail on the head when he wrote “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
The late 90s and early 2000s were the height of boy-band mania, allowing these pop music groups to amass wealth seemingly overnight. However, while the music industry can be quite lucrative once you’ve “made it,” the industry giveth and taketh away fame and fortune in the blink of an eye.
Nearly a decade and a half into the new millennium, and boy bands’ popularity has all but worn off. Former pop sensations such as the Backstreet Boys, Blue, and Westlife can all boast record-breaking album sales, but they also each have at least one member who has gone broke.
Squandering a multi-million dollar fortune may seem like a highly irresponsible — if not impossible — feat, but going broke is easier than you might think. A look into these pop stars’ finances reveals a history of poor investments, hefty tax bills, and difficulties coping when the money well dries up. In fact, bankruptcy is no stranger to the music industry. Considering the large number of high-profile pop star bankruptcies, it seems the two almost go hand in hand.
Perhaps one of the most notorious examples of boy-band bankruptcy is that of English RandB group Blue. The rapid succession of bankruptcy among Blue’s former members, including Antony Costa, Duncan James and Simon Webbe, shows how easy it is to go from boom to bust in just 12 years. Only one former band member, Lee Ryan, avoided bankruptcy.
The group amassed over $125 million USD as the UK’s favorite boy-next-door group, but lost most of their earnings to reckless spending and debt. Duncan James, 36, filed for bankruptcy in September 2013 after investing in homes for his ex-partner, daughter, and parents. Antony Costa, 33, filed for bankruptcy after claiming he couldn’t afford his lavish lifestyle after the group split in 2004.
The band’s company, Blueworld Limited, also filed for bankruptcy once it became painfully clear the company was unable to pay their investors and creditors back. Unfortunately, the timing of Blueworld Limited’s bankruptcy filing coincided with their sold-out European tour in 2013.
Though pop singers and celebrities who file for bankruptcy usually get a bad rap, bankruptcy helps many everyday Joes and Jills turn over a new financial leaf. Not all bankruptcies are created equal, and not all debts are automatically discharged. For example, Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the filer to re-organize their debt and create a court-approved repayment plan for a predetermined amount.