Sunday 18 August 2019

'A bad song stays bad no matter how much money is thrown at it'

My money

Ryan Cullan. Photo: Dara Munnis
Ryan Cullan. Photo: Dara Munnis

Ryan McMullan is a young musician from Portaferry in Northern Ireland. He supported Snow Patrol on a tour of the US earlier this summer. He also supported Kodaline on their European tour last year.

He made his debut at the Glastonbury Festival last month - and will play at Belfast's Custom House Square on August 17. For tickets and more information, visit

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

What's the most important lesson about money which your career has taught you?

That a bad song will remain a bad song - no matter how much money you throw at it.

What's your favourite saying about money?

Your health is your wealth - my mum instilled this in us growing up.

What's the most expensive country you have ever visited?

It's really all relative. I spent $20 (€17.75) in America on a breakfast and it was dreadful. However, I spent A$20 (€12.50) in Australia on the same-style breakfast and it was amazing.

What's the most you've ever spent on musical equipment?

I have these beautiful handcrafted guitars made by Lowden. They did cost a bit, but personally I couldn't imagine playing another guitar. But again, it's all relative really, because I use them every day of my life. I also have a guitar pedal which I bought for £400 (€445) which I've used once. That could be considered the most expensive piece of musical equipment as it spends its time as a dust-gatherer.

What's your favourite song about money?

The Lakes of Pontchartrain. The idea behind the song is that money has no value - and that kindness is king. The lyrics go: "I cursed all foreign money, no credit could I gain." This leads to the singer asking a girl for a bed for the night, as his money wasn't worth anything in the country he was in. He subsequently falls in love with the girl.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

I'm sure my car is the right answer - though only just about! However, I'm going to go with a pair of shoes I bought for $400. For the record, I thought the tag said $40 - because $400 for a pair of shoes would be ridiculous, right? I never paid any attention when paying with my card, took my shoes and headed off. It was only when I got back home to Ireland and my rent bounced that I learned that a pair of shoes can actually cost $400.

What was your worst job?

I studied civil engineering at university and, for my work experience, I went to Washington DC. It involved waking up at 2am to drive four hours to Philadelphia, working 6am to 6pm, driving back for four hours to DC and then sleeping for four hours - and all for $5 an hour. I've appreciated every job I've had since.

What was your best financial killing?

I sold 400 CDs at a gig once - though, there were 16,000 in attendance so it was not that great really.

Are you better off than your parents?

They've a happy, healthy life, as do I. Which is all that matters. But I'm younger, so the answer is yes.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

I think the Euromillions is too much money to win. But if I won 'just' a couple of million, I'd start my own label and publishing companies, and invest in my career and the careers of other artists that I love. And I'd buy a vineyard in Italy.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Yes - under my musical equipment insurance. I was on tour supporting Kodaline through Europe and on the third show, I picked up my guitar to find it smashed to pieces.

It could have been in transit or a local stage hand accidentally hitting it, but how it happened didn't really matter.

The Kodaline lads could see how upset I was and kindly lent me one of their guitars for the remainder of the tour. I genuinely felt heartbroken.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

Invest in art and property. So that's what I'll do - if I ever get any money.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business