Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Keep on rockin' in the really expensive world

Back when I was engaged to be married, I had heard a CD by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and I thought to myself "Man, this would be a great band to have at my wedding." This was way before their big hit "Jump, Jive and Wail", their first album had just come out on Hollywood Records, which meant that hardly anyone knew about them (even though Brian Setzer had been in the Stray Cats years earlier), and it was not completely beyond the realm of possibility that I could afford the band for my wedding.

So I found the number for the manager of the band and gave him a call to inquire about the band for a private gig.

"Oh, Brian really doesn't like to do weddings", the manager said, with a tone that was like dismissive, but with a tinge of "How much ya got?" mixed in.

"So there's no way?" I asked.

"Well, you'd have to really make it worth his while financially, for him to consider it." he said.

"OK, so like how much?"

"A lot."

"Yeah, but how much is that?"

"A whole lot."

"OK, but can you like give me a number to work with here? I just need to see if it's possible."

"I don't think Brian would be willing to consider anything under a hundred thousand dollars."


"Uh, sure, that sounds doable."

I'm totally lying.

"I'll give you a call back."

I hung up. I did not call back.

Well, it turns out that since then, prices have gone up a lot. Now, I know that we talked about this a long time ago, but this new article in the LA Times about the corporate gigs that rock stars are taking these days is really shocking.

On New Year's Eve, for instance, British pop star George Michael was in Russia making about $3 million an hour singing for a few hundred guests of Vladimir Potanin, a mining and lumber magnate. The gig was 75 minutes, and he was home in London by lunchtime.

Last weekend, pop diva Christina Aguilera and Oscar winner Robin Williams were in Pittsburgh as the hired entertainment at the birthday party of Joe Hardy, founder of 84 Lumber. Both stars are veterans of the lucrative circuit. Aguilera took a reported $1.5 million to serenade another Russian businessman, Andrei Melnichenko, at his September 2005 wedding. Williams, who reportedly fetches a cool $1 million for a night's work, joined the Rolling Stones and John Mellencamp in Las Vegas in 2002 at the birthday soiree for David Bonderman, co-founder of Texas Pacific Group, a private equity investment firm. The reported price of the affair: $10 million.

Still, money doesn't necessarily guarantee for a good time, as explained by Sammy Hagar. Hagar definitely had mixed feelings when Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, called several years ago to hire him to sing "There's Only One Way to Rock" at the billionaire's birthday party. Then Cuban mentioned the private plane, the plan to stage the show at the arena in Dallas and, of course, a particularly large sum of money.

"The money," Hagar said, "was very good. I won't say how much, but it was good. But I didn't do it for the money…. Well, maybe I did."

Hagar had to earn it, though. He described the show as one of the most awkward stage experiences of his three-decade career.

"There were 70 people in the audience, so we have this huge, empty arena. But we did a full-blown, 45-minute show, lights and everything. The front row was filled with Mavericks players, and half of them, you know, they didn't know us or care about our music. And they were so tall they were looking me right in the eye. The whole thing was just plain weird."

Not as weird as hiring George Michael for 6 million dollars for night! For that amount of money, that guy should do my laundry too!


Anonymous Scotty said...

How can i get in on this racket? I'm sick of working for gas money.

1/15/2007 11:40 AM


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