Rock music and economics might not be the most obvious combination to unite on stage. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened when the Nebraska Council on Economic Education (NCEE) invited the Gooding band to play music and talk economic literacy to a group of 600 students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Nebraska Union October 28.
Jennifer Davidson, president of the NCEE and assistant professor of practice, coordinated the performance of Gooding, which is also the name of the lead vocalist and guitarist. She explained why their music and message are a win-win for young people.
“What I love about Gooding is his street credibility,” Davidson said. “College students are more likely to accept economic information from this amazing guitar player who can play two guitars at the same time, and then tell them that in order to live your dreams and have financial freedom, you have to be economically responsible.”
The show began with several high energy songs. Then, unlike a normal rock concert, the house lights came up and the projector screen was illuminated by a PowerPoint presentation.
“Gooding talked about compound interest, saving early, not using pay day lenders and getting a bank account. After the show he gave out postcards encouraging students to answer economic literacy questions on the Gooding website to redeem for free music,” she said.
Part of Gooding’s credibility comes from his own financial misconceptions early in his career.
“Some people think rock and roll and financial literacy don’t have much to do with each other, but they actually do,” Gooding said. “It wasn’t until I saw what we do as a business that it began allowing us the freedom to do what we wanted. We’re on our own music label now so we play what we want to play and tour how we want to tour. We wouldn’t be able to do it if we weren’t investing in ourselves.”
Several years ago Operation Hope out of Los Angeles asked Gooding to talk to inner-city students about financial responsibility. It led him to start his own non-profit in 2012.
“Our message happened very organically because I made some big mistakes along the way. I knew more about geometry after high school than balancing a check book, and like many people in the music industry you think the record contract is going to save your life,” he said.
Gooding played at several high schools during the week as part of his work with the NCEE, but was thankful for the opportunity to play to college students.
“It’s great to play here because it gives us a chance to talk to people who may one day teach economics and be in a position to talk to young people. We’re trying to break the cycle of financial debt by spreading the word that if you save money now you’ll be set up for the rest of your life,” Gooding said.