Want Kiss or Selena Gomez for Your Office Mixer? It's Gonna Cost You
By Gary Susman Posted Aug 3rd 2010 05:31PM
So suggests an article at The Smoking Gun, which has long specialized in obtaining the concert contracts of various music stars so that we can laugh at their persnickety backstage demands. The new article lists what are purportedly the booking prices of a number of concert acts. They range from the bargain-priced ('Nashville Star' winner Chris Young, at just $7,500 per appearance) to the arena-priced (Rascal Flatts at $702,500 per gig).
According to TSG, recent 'American Idol' winner Kris Young comes in at an affordable $12,500, while 'Idol' sixth-place finisher Kellie Pickler costs more than three times as much, at $40,000 per appearance. (Then again, she's been around a few years longer and has had a more substantial recording career.)
Want Disney-bred thrush Selena Gomez at your tween's bat mitzvah? You can have her for just $100,000. Want rising rapper Drake instead? That'll be $155,000.
At the upper end of the list are stadium-quality acts (Keith Urban, Kiss, and Rascal Flatts), who not only get the fee listed by TSG as a guaranteed minimum, but also traditionally get a percentage of the gross ticket sales once they exceed a given amount. So Urban gets $487,500 before he even plays a note. The members of Kiss may be a bit long in the tooth, but they still can demand $500,000 per show. (No word on how much of that half a mil goes toward face paint, or on whether you can book Little Kiss, the band of tiny Kiss impersonators in that Dr. Pepper commercial, for a discounted rate.)
Just for fun, TSG also has backstage concert riders for Kiss and Rascal Flatts. The Kiss contract, which is from 10 years ago, stipulates that the band's backstage banquet must include caramel and chocolate rice cakes (hey, gotta stay regular at that age) and steamed corn stripped from the cob (wouldn't want it to get stuck in the dentures, now, would we?).
As for the country trio, whose tour rider dates from 2009, the band demands the services of a female masseuse, who'll be paid $1 per minute in cash for any work done unkinking the backs of tour personnel, and after the show for any massages given to the three band members.
But are these stars worth their fees? Maybe, says Gary Bongiovanni, Editor in Chief of Pollstar, the trade magazine that tracks the concert industry, but it's hard to tell without some additional figures for context. For instance, he tells PopEater, "For the first half of this year, Rascal Flatts did $11.8 million in ticket sales, but their average gross was $564,000. If you were paying that $700,000 fee, you'd have a hard time making money." However, he adds, it's not clear whether that fee cited by TSG is for past performances or the band's asking price for future performances. With rising ticket prices, it's possible that a promoter could make a profit booking the trio at that fee.
In 2009, Bongiovanni says, Keith Urban averaged gross sales of $721,875, well above his fee, but "if that's the case, the guarantee he's asking is fairly close. There's got to be a couple hundred thousand in other expenses," Bongiovanni says, citing such costs to the promoter as operating the hall and advertising the show.
Last year, Bongiovanni says, Kiss averaged a gross of $620,000. "If you're paying the band $500,000, you're going to have a tough time making money with all your other expenses." Drake's recent shows have grossed an average of $100,000, Bongiovanni says, but his fee might still be justified because his career is on the upswing, and his grosses could easily improve.
As for artists like Pickler, Allen, and Young, they've mostly been supporting acts so far, so their earning power as headliners has been untested.
For the sake of comparison, Bongiovanni cites Taylor Swift, one of today's top touring acts. She's been averaging $1.2 million gross, and he estimates her payday per show has been $750,000, better than Rascal Flatts.
That's not to say the average fees cited by TSG are the exact fees these artists get for each show. "There is no list price. It's a moving target," Bongiovanni says. "Bottom line, I wouldn't put too much faith in these numbers."
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