The Great Entertainer
|It Is Unusual|
A catered dinner and a bakery cake won't cut it anymore for marking the special events in our lives, and for some, a DJ or cover band won't either.
But couples still want to dance to the romantic tune they fell in love to; boomers hitting their 50th want to rock out to the music of enduring icons.
And youngsters coming of age want to hear the songs they've downloaded on their iPods and cell phones.
To keep the quality of the entertainment in scale with the other elements of the celebration, there's an increasing demand for renowned entertainers -- the original hit makers -- to provide live music for milestone fetes.
The Beat Goes On
It's common for musicians to stop doing parties and weddings as soon as they can afford not to -- the crowds can be inattentive and sometimes downright disrespectful.
Some guests won't stop schmoozing just because the performance begins; others might leave the room if the act isn't to their taste.
As Bob Grabow, CEO of the Grabow Agency, points out: "Well-known artists [usually] play to people who can sing every word of every song, but at private events, they're not playing to their fans."Entertainers who rarely do a private gig might be willing to squeeze one in if they have a few free days in the middle of a tour, if there's something unusual about the job that piques their interest -- or if the perks make it seem worthwhile If you want a big name at your event, "Offer a private plane, another night of lodging in a nice place or a generous per diem allowance for all the people on staff," Grabow says. "That shows that [you are] inclined to take care of the act and crew." Among those who have played at private events -- and the fees some of them are said to command -- are Billy Joel (around $1 million); Michael Buble ($400,000); Elton John ($900,000-$5 million, much of it donated to his AIDS charity); Sheryl Crow; Jimmy Buffett; Wyclef Jean; Earth, Wind and Fire; Stevie Nicks; Tony Bennett (another million-dollar club member); and the Rolling Stones (the sky's the limit). Grabow says Dave Matthews asks for more than $1 million, Norah Jones' fee would be "in excess of $250,000" and Harry Connick Jr.'s is at roughly at that same level. Not surprisingly, "The more popular they are, the more money they'll command," says Erik Marshall, a partner in Hank Lane Productions. "For an entertainer with hits on the charts right now, the fee will be well into six figures." Party planner David Tutera reminds that "the $250,000 for services doesn't include the lighting, sound system and staging. The expense for the performer is just the beginning; the prices escalate quickly."
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