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Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon has decided to stop DJing at high-profile events following criticism that his hobby created a distraction from his work leading the Wall Street firm, according to people with knowledge of the decision. 

What started as a colourful side hustle that softened Solomon’s public image became a lightning rod for criticism of him inside Goldman from bankers disgruntled over strategic mis-steps and lower pay. 

Solomon, 61, made the decision to pull back from DJing about a year ago because it generated unwanted media attention, the people said. 

The last notable event where Solomon DJed was in July 2022 at Lollapalooza, a four-day music festival in Chicago. 

Following a request for comment, Goldman spokesman Tony Fratto said: “This is not news. David hasn’t publicly DJed an event in well over a year, which we have confirmed multiple times in the past.” 

“Music was not a distraction from David’s work. The media attention became a distraction,” Fratto added.

Solomon’s DJing attracted scrutiny from Goldman’s board of directors, the Financial Times has reported previously. Notably, some were uneasy about his decision in 2019 to perform at Tomorrowland, a Belgian music festival known for heavy drug taking.

Solomon also apologised to Goldman’s board in 2020 after he DJed at a 2020 event in the Hamptons resort area of New York that was criticised for flouting social distancing rules during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Solomon was named chief executive in 2018 and since then has tried to diversify Goldman’s business away from investment banking and trading, and expand in areas such as asset and wealth management that are seen to be less volatile.

But the past year or so has marked the most challenging period for Goldman since Solomon took over, characterised by a fall in earnings, a number of high-profile departures and a series of news articles which questioned his running of the bank. 

In the second quarter, Goldman recorded its lowest quarterly profit in three years, as a costly retreat from consumer banking was compounded by the industry-wide slowdown in deals and trading. Goldman reports third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

Solomon’s interest in DJing — an unusual pastime for Wall Street — started more than a decade ago when he was working on a financing deal for a Las Vegas casino. He has said that proceeds from his performances have gone towards charities combating addiction. 

He originally performed under the stage name DJ-D Sol, a moniker that became a big part of his public persona. 

During a cameo in an episode of the US TV show Billions in 2020, fictional hedge fund titan Bobby Axelrod, played by actor Damian Lewis, referred to Solomon as DJ-D Sol. Solomon later changed his stage name to David Solomon. 

While few colleagues remarked on Solomon’s hobby before he became CEO, his decision to keep it up after taking over the bank was controversial for some employees, who felt it brought unwelcome attention. This was partly through the highly visible nature of the performances, Spotify playlists and Instagram posts that came with it. 

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