Miniature Disasters: Pop Stars and Pre-Nups
Published on 25 September, 2018 | Sam Hall
At a time when the nature of Britain’s commercial relations with its trading partners across the globe is under intense scrutiny, one industry is unlikely to be derailed by whether politicians in Brussels and London end up with a ‘hard’ or rather more constructive Brexit.
The UK’s music industry might have been subject to the impact of changing technology and the buying habits of the world’s consumers over the years but has always been a rather successful business.
Even without matching the exploits of The Beatles, other British groups and solo acts have achieved renown, selling millions of records, becoming truly famous and establishing very comfortable lifestyles into the bargain.
Over the last 15 years, one of Britain’s most internationally popular artists has been the Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall.
An outstanding live performer, with five albums and a string of hit singles and major award nominations behind her, her career progression can perhaps also be measured by going from the dole in her native Dundee to a house in California and a £1 million apartment in London, as she has revealed to the Sunday Times’ Money section (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kt-tunstall-suddenly-i-see-the-value-of-a-prenup-qvkdm83sc?shareToken=25e9e02dd5cb0516687d1644463eb76c).
In a broad sweep of her financial health, the article described how she has become as astute about the business side of music as she is adept with lyrics, chord changes and appearing before sold-out crowds.
However, she confessed that her worst business decision was “not signing a prenup before I got married in 2008”, going on to say that her marriage was also her worst investment (“If you’re talking numbers..”).
She is, of course, not alone in divorcing. When her marriage ended in 2013, it was one of more than 114,000 divorces in England and Wales.
In addition, when she married her former drummer, Luke Bullen, in September 2008, neither she nor many other individuals were aware of the merits of prenuptial agreements.
It was only in October 2010 – midway through the marriage – that a Supreme Court judgement in favour of the German heiress Katrin Radmacher attached “magnetic importance” to pre- and post-nuptial contracts (https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2009-0031-judgment.pdf).
Prior to the ruling, prenups were generally considered the preserve of Hollywood celebrities and those with individuals with great family wealth.
Since, though, the documents have become very much democratised and are a more regular feature of the work which I and my colleagues at Hall Brown undertake on behalf of couples across a large spectrum of incomes.
As KT Tunstall now no doubt appreciates, prenups are adopted in order to mitigate potential damage which divorce can have on someone’s finances.
They are not specifically aimed at men or women who live the same kind of lifestyle as she does, constantly on tour or in the studio.
Nor are they unromantic, as some critics have suggested. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce. About half of those divorces occur within the first 10 years of marriage (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/divorce/bulletins/divorcesinenglandandwales/2016#what-percentage-of-marriages-end-in-divorce).
Prenups, therefore, are a form of insurance in case marriages do not last the course.
To quote the title of one of the tracks on Tunstall’s breakthrough first album, ‘Eye to the Telescope’, they might be regarded as helping avoid the kind of ‘Miniature Disasters’ which can prove costly to pop stars and public alike.