Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon moonlights as a music producer and party starter under the name DJ D-Sol. This week, he released his latest single “Rescue Me.” And we don’t mind saying that it’s a pretty sweet track.
It might seem weird that a banking CEO making $15 million per year would want to get into the DJ booth. But dance music is big money these days. Solomon makes about a quarter of the $64 million that DJ Calvin Harris made in 2018. Diplo made about $26 million in the same year. Of the world’s top 10 DJs, the poorest of them, Martin Garix of “Animals” fame, who pulled in $17.8 million last year. Heck, if anything, Solomon should want access to their capital.
It doesn’t seem like he’s using the side hustle to catch up to Diplo, though. D-Sol donated all the proceeds from his records to opioid crisis charities.
While “Old Town Road” has a lock on “Song of the Summer 2019” with seven weeks at number one, “Rescue Me” is a light and fun summer jam. Here’s the most honest review we could possibly give it: we have every reason to want to think that the Goldman CE-Bro can’t produce tracks, but this song is great.
Its composition is a pastiche of remix and reworkings, beginning with the anthemic horn section from the 1965 Fontella Bass classic “Rescue Me.” But instead of being a straight remix or remake, it then slides right into a verse written by X Factor contestant and award-winning songwriter Laura White. The vocals are belted out with power from Glee star Alex Newell.
[Coincidentally, in 1990 Fontella Bass herself was inspired to get her financial life in order after she heard her song used in an American Express commercial.]
Punk fans will recognize the chord change of this verse as the intro to the Clash’s 1982 single “Straight to Hell.” This was later sampled in MIA’s 2007 smash, “Paper Planes.” The chord progression subsequently became a staple of dance music and was lifted in various forms for 2011’s “(I Don’t Care) I Love It” and Martin Solveig’s “Big in Japan.”
When the original chorus kicks in, Newell blends clap-along elements of gospel and soul to the four-on-the-floor beat. This is a song meant to get a crowd to move at an outdoor festival and in a big club. The gladiator-style callbacks and crowd-tinged vocals will doubtless give this track a long second life in SoulCycle classes.
This is one of the reasons I find writing about complex financial instruments and cryptocurrency a little easier than writing about music. In crypto I can tell you why something does or does not have an upside and how much it will cost you. In music I can really just say, “This song is great!”
New fans should know that there’s plenty more where that came from. Note that Solomon’s history in music didn’t hurt his opportunity to step up at Goldman. In January 2018, DJ D-Sol released an interpretation of Fleetwood Mack’s “Don’t Stop.” In March 2018, he was promoted to COO. He took over as CEO in October 2018.
“Don’t Stop” might even be a better track, one that has more in common with arena-rock than techno. The bright remake that seems perfect for getting young kids who have never heard to Mick Fleetwood to pogo to in muddy summer festivals.
Goldman Sachs spokesperson Jake Siewert maintains that Solomon’s side hustle is all part of his work-life balance. “David’s always believed that having a wide range of outside interests leads to a balanced life and makes for a better career,” Siewert told the New York Times in 2017. “He’s preached that regularly to younger employees in the firm and tries to lead by example.”
So why would you want a DJ or producer handling your money? There’s a couple of things about D Sol and producing in general that apply to running a fund.
- It’s not about doing every job. Some producers play drums on every track. Others can’t play a note. It’s more about how your team works together and how you can make them work and perform at their best.
- Whoever can deliver is the one who wins. Music and festivals aren’t made in a lab with unlimited resources. If the headlining DJ’s private jet got delayed in customs, the next person needs to step up and save the show. I’m told there’s something like that in deal-making.
- What works today will not work tomorrow. People need to be nimble, but they also need something new to chase. This is the reason that they keep making new music even though there’s already plenty available. It’s also the reason that it’s almost always time to rediscover an old gem.
Other than that, we admire—and even like—that D-Sol combines his favorite off-duty job and his favorite cause. These are the kinds of songs that can keep generating revenue year after year. That should mean a recurring dividend to help opioid treatment centers and other charities in years to come. And that’s pretty cool.