THE SUITS : The king of all he surveys

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The Independent Online
Interested in getting to the bottom of those pop stars' fabulous fortunes? Keen to know who owns those obscure record labels specialising in Sixties psychedelia? Or just want to assess the importance of the music industry to Britain's balance of t rade? Then you should talk to Cliff Dane.

Next week (8-9 February) British Invisibles, an arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, will be publishing a report on how good the likes of Phil Collins, George Michael and the Rolling Stones are for the economy. Mr Dane was a consultant to the project - when not working on his recently launched opus, Rock Accounts 1994.

Thanks to this 224-page survey, which claims to be the most comprehensive analysis of rock stars' earnings and "corporate structures" to date, we know that 33 individuals enjoyed peak annual income of more than £lm, with five passing £2m. And that is just an outgrowth of his acclaimed UK Record Industry - Annual Survey, an even heftier volume that describes shareholdings and other details of almost every British record label you could think of, from the giant EMI to re-issue specialists Demon.

Such works are clearly labours of love, and Mr Dane is determined that the curious should pay a price for his zeal - several hundred pounds for each book. "It's important that people think it's good because word of mouth is my only real advertising," he says.

Like many obsessives, he had a conventional enough start. After studying history at Cambridge, he qualified as a chartered accountant with Touche Ross. He worked for the publishing group Reed International before helping to found Castle Communications, aproducer of mainly reissued records and videos, as finance director in 1983. Since leaving four years ago, he has sought to establish himself as a music industry consultant.

He says that few people could combine figures from Companies House with detailed history and analysis. "I hope to build up a portfolio and do other industries in which I have a particular knowledge," he says, suggesting video and book publishing as likely avenues. "I'm trying to create an intellectual copyright in the reputation of the surveys."

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