What’s happened to the money, money, money? – Telegraph.co.uk
How much do they pay? “Depends. From £2,500 to £100,000? Now that people don’t
buy music, we have to find other revenues. It’s not something I’ve really
been offered. But I might,” she said. “I didn’t know how bad the music
industry had got in those four years I was out.”
Perhaps she should have taken a look at last year’s charts: not the music
charts, but those tracking sales across the entire entertainment industry –
albums, films and video-games – put together by the Entertainment Retailers
Association. These reveal that the top-selling product in 2013 was the
video-game Grand Theft Auto V, which sold 3.67 million copies,
followed by the DVD of Skyfall, the James Bond film, which sold
2.96 million copies.
You would need to go down to ninth place before you hit anything melodic – and
that would be Now That’s What I Call Music! 86, which scraped
just over one million units. The only other music in the Top 20, in physical
or electronic format, is Now That’s What I Call Music! 85.
Only a decade ago – the days when Dido, Coldplay and James Blunt were hit
machines – it was not uncommon for an album to sell more than three million
You might think that the rise of digital music would compensate for the dire
fall in sales of physical CDs, but this isn’t the case. Last year, the sales
of all types of albums and singles totalled £1.04 billion in the UK, down
0.5 per cent on the year before and down 7 per cent over three years.
None other than pop’s biggest female star, Beyoncé, complained on her latest
album, singing: “Soul not for sale / Probably won’t make no money off this /
Oh well.” Queen Bey even makes the credibility-stretching claim that she is
going to have to work “nine to five to stay alive”.
The problem is that people just do not buy music in the quantity that they
used to. They either pick and choose the odd single, or they stream music on
services such as Spotify or YouTube, often free of charge.
But this does not mean that musicians will be forced to become buskers.
Indeed, Allen’s candid assessment hints at how some musicians still make a
comfortable living, despite falling sales.
Touring has long been the most lucrative way of making money for the big
stadium acts, such as the Rolling Stones and Elton John. Now the global
recession is over, ticket prices are on the up and new acts, such as One
Direction, are cashing in.
All of these events are an opportunity to sell merchandise and push the brand.
The days of a Rolling Stone baseball cap are over. Taylor Swift has three
different perfumes to her name; Rita Ora, who has recorded just one album,
has polka dot shorts, necklaces and an entire range of Rimmel London nail
varnish in her stable of merchandise.
As one music agent says: “For a lot of these pop acts, the music is just
another piece in their product range.” And no area is off limits. Pharrell
Williams and Daft Punk not only spawned 2013’s biggest single, Get
Lucky, but also a brand of Get Lucky condoms.
According to PRS for Music, the industry association that helps collect
royalty payments, British writers and artists earned £642 million from
royalties. But on top of that, they earned £105 million in 2012 from
“ancillary brand revenues”. This jargon includes sponsorship of a venue,
concert or tour, with the artists taking a cut. Indeed, Rihanna’s latest
tour was technically known as the Budweiser Rihanna 777 Tour (the crowd
reportedly failed to respond to Rihanna’s call for them to chant “Budweiser
and River Island” in support of her associated brands).
Rihanna: said to charge £60k to appear at a fashion show (AFP)
Artists’ “ancillary” earnings also include the endorsements they clock up,
such as producer Mark Ronson and singer Katy B lending their cool to a
corporate brand like Coca‑Cola. For that, they will usually be compensated
for both the use of their music and of their image. The deals add up: from
Lana Del Rey fronting adverts for H&M, to the likes of Jessie J who has
got into bed with VitaminWater. (And this from the girl who sang “It’s not
about the money, money, money”.)
PRS does not, however, track the pay cheques about which stars are possibly
the most opaque: personal appearances. It is no secret that pop stars can
cash in when they are invited to perform at the birthday party of some
Russian oligarch or Saudi princess – Lakshmi Mittal paid Kylie Minogue an
estimated £315,000 to sing for half an hour at the wedding of his daughter.
Jay‑Z and Beyoncé each charge £1 million a night.
What is more surprising is when celebrities are paid just to turn up: not to
sing or present an award, but just to be seen at the launch of a product or
the opening of a new nightclub, as Lily Allen spelled out.
Yusef Mohamed, director of Big Bang, one of the many agencies that specialise
in placing celebrities at events, says: “Many of these celebrities are very
busy. Turning up to these things can take a lot of the artist’s time – they
are not going to go to them unless someone is paying them.”
And how they pay. The fees start at about £2,000 for the most Z-list of
celebrities, all the way up to £200,000 or more for a proper star. Mark
Borkowski, the PR man who represents celebrities as well as brands, notes:
“This has been going on for some time, particularly in the luxury fashion
world, where budgets are high.”
Sometimes, of course, tempers fray. The designer Nicole Farhi caused ructions
two years ago when she said she was fed up with stars demanding to be paid
to sit in the front row of fashion shows and refused to pay. An A-lister
such as Rihanna, it is understood, charges £60,000 to be at a show.
Allen herself back in 2007 was open about how the fashion industry bent over
backwards to butter up music stars, claiming that after an Yves Saint
Laurent show she was taken to the flagship store and told to help herself,
before emerging with £5,000 worth of dresses, handbags and accessories.
These personal appearances have to be managed with caution, however. “You have
to be very, very careful,” Borkowski says. “If you become a hired hand, and
are seen at the shaking of every stick, your ubiquity will destroy your
And rivals for the work will be snapping at your heels. The celebrity market
is becoming “saturated”, Mohamed warns, thanks to the sheer number of talent
and reality shows, which have created an army of people looking to cash in
on their fame.
For some, the old ways still remain the best. One music agent says: “I get
these offers coming in quite often – and they are fine for a pop act, who
have only a few years to milk it for all it is worth.
“But for a proper music star, you can forget it. Their fans would never