Music & Musicians

Kenny G: Investing was crucial to my success

I'm an accounting major: Kenny G
I'm an accounting major: Kenny G

Kenny G, who has enjoyed a solo career that spans more than 30 years, says musicians entering the industry now should control their expenses and convert their finances into long-term investments.

"A lot of people don't get to be out there as long as I have. It can end any time, so be smart," said the 59-year-old sax player, whose real name is Kenneth Gorelick and has sold more than 75 million albums.

Musician Kenny G performs at Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square, Jan. 14, 2014, in New York.
Gary Gershoff | WireImage | Getty Images

In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Alley," he said multiple factors have driven his financial decision-making throughout his career. The smooth jazz artist said he actually majored in accounting in college because he "didn't want to study music" and gained a knack for "common sense" budgeting.

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Gorelick, who is widely considered one of the most successful instrumentalists of modern music, said he has always surrounded himself with smart people but has never hesitated to jump on a risky investment when he sees promise. A Seattle native, Gorelick used some of his musical earnings to invest in Starbucks in the mid-1980s as CEO Howard Schultz started to expand the company out of the Pacific Northwest.

"I didn't know really know that much about coffee, but he's such a charismatic guy, so smart, so passionate," Gorelick said.

He has also maintained investments in Apple and Microsoft, another company based in the Seattle area. Gorelick added that artists should not only branch off into new ventures, but also invest intelligently if they want long-term financial success.

"Be smart about your investments, don't think you're bigger than you are and don't think it'll last forever," he said.

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Even after 30 years in the business, the musician is still sporting his trademark long, curly locks. He joked that his famous hair certainly hasn't hurt his career, saying "you've got to have good hair."