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Family Money

Family finance lessons: Musician Steve Albini

Nick White Jun 5, 2014

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family. 

On Money, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited from the people they grew up with. This week our guest is musician and recording engineer Steve Albini.  He’s a member of the band Shellac, owns the recording studio Electrical Audio in Chicago, and has recorded bands such as The Pixies, The Jesus Lizard and Nirvana. 

Albini grew up in Montana and then Santa Barbara with two siblings. He says they were encouraged to get jobs at a very early age. 

“As soon as I was physically capable of holding down a job I had one,” says Albini. “I think my first job I was seven years old. I was a shoeshine boy at the Top Hat Barbershop.”

Albini says he developed the philosophy that he had to earn the money he lived on; that he wasn’t entitled to it. 

 “That sounds like a ‘self-made-man’ capitalist perspective, but … philosphically I don’t think of myself as a capitalist. I actually think that the profit motive is a symptom of a pathology,” says Albini. 

“From the earliest days of my involvement in music, money has always been a problem. You know, finding the resources to do something, to get a guitar fixed or buy an amplifier or make a recording,” says Albini.

As a business owner, Albini says that he tries to be equitable with the money that comes into the recording studio. Electrical Audio has been running in Chicago for nearly 20 years, and has developed a reputation for its high quality facilities and affordable rates. 

“It’s not just out of kindness,” says Albini. “Because I know that the most interesting, most creative music is often made at the margins. So the people who are the least likely to have money to burn in the studio are the people most likely to be doing stuff that’s ultimately going to become culturally important and ultimately going to be the most satisfying to work on.” 

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