Jimmy Buffett's 'Margaritaville' is big business
The flip-flop-loving songsmith has built a highly lucrative and ever-expanding empire based on that simple tune.
Sure, "Margaritaville" has been parodied on Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC show "Saturday Night Live" and is voted as the most hated song ever by some, but songwriter Jimmy Buffett is strumming his guitar all the way to the bank.
That's because the song ranks as the most lucrative ever, thanks to Buffett's business savvy, notes BloombergBusinessweek.
His privately owned Margaritaville Holdings has spawned a business empire of 27 themed restaurants, as well as branded gear such as the $299.99 Explorer Cordless Frozen Concoction Maker. When might one need such an item? "Whip up frozen drinks right on your boat. Take it tailgating. Throw a bash at the beach," Buffett's site instructs.
Behind the image of a laid-back beach life, Margaritaville has big ambitions. No less than New Jersey Gov, Chris Christie opened the newest themed attraction in Atlantic City just last week. The $35 million complex not only features two restaurants but a beach-themed casino as well.
Margaritaville doesn't release financial data, but the Orlando Business Journal reported that the company was earning about $100 million annually in 2007. Since that report, Buffett's anthem to flip-flops and porch swings has only grown larger as several more restaurants have opened in locations ranging from Honolulu to Nashville.
At least one other music star has sought to emulate Buffett: Country rocker Toby Keith has opened his third I Love This Bar & Grill, based on his 2003 song "I Love This Bar."
"If there is anything on the same scale as a 'Margaritaville,' it’s not a song -- it's a motion picture," Robert Brauneis, a professor of intellectual property at the George Washington University Law School, told Businessweek. "When you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, you have to think in terms of 'Star Wars,' 'Winnie the Pooh' or 'Transformers.' That’s probably in the same order of magnitude."
But it's more the lifestyle Buffett is selling than the song itself that's responsible for its earnings power. The tune didn't make it into the top 10 of the BBC's "Richest Songs in the World," which places "Happy Birthday to You" at the No. 1 earnings spot, Businessweek notes.
But Buffett has surely parlayed a catchy number into an American aspiration, allowing fans to kick back and put themselves in his flip-flops during a visit to one of his restaurants. No wonder consumers can't resist paying up.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Marguaritaville - The anthem to tequila cocktails!
Hearing the song occasionally is a good thing. It conjures up a happy laid-back feeling although the lyrics are actually quite depressing (drinking it up cuz he is to blame for losing his babe). Country music theme with a reggae presentation!
Marguaritaville restaurants are predictable with their food in much the same fashion as Applebee's et al. It's not fine dining but its not bad. And when you are on vacation, have some fun! That's what Marguaritaville is all about!! Long live the Parrotheads!! (as for me, my Patron is straight up, no ice) Hang Loose!
The Key West location is just a pain. Last September was a joke, getting waited on for food or drink was just plain not happening. However all the rest I have been to Caymans, Jamacia, Cozumel and others the service and food and drink are awsome. I love this place called Margaritaville.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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