For most artists, playing private and corporate gigs are no longer taboo

[This was my weekend column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

The woman was an event planner on a very chi-chi Caribbean island, a place where the ultra-rich go to play.

“Maybe you can help me,” she said. “I have a client. Very wealthy. From the Middle East. He wants to celebrate his 50th birthday with a private concert aboard this yacht. His price points for a performer are $250,000, $750,000 and a million-plus. Plus costs and a per diem, of course. Can you suggest any names that might be available? Just don’t say Elton John because we asked and he’s already booked.” (I think the client ended up with an acoustic Lenny Kravitz performance. He was in the million-plus bracket.)

I also had a conversation with someone from a big software company. “We want to throw a party for the employees and our biggest clients. We’ve got about a million-and-a-half bucks to spend on musical talent. Gimme some options that I can take back to the boss.”

Then there was the guy who wanted a big pop star to perform at his daughter’s bat mitzvah. He was willing to drop a million on her daughter’s favourite singer — and he did.

With music sales cratering, performers can no longer depend on big royalty cheques arriving in the mail every six months or so. Today, the big money is found playing live. Traditional tours are fine, but the best gigs are private and corporate engagements. Why? Because (a) they’re done on the down-low and fairly hassle-free, and (b) they pay well. VERY well. And almost everyone is available for the right price.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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