Newfound price of fandom

Molly Schreiber

We’ve all said it. We’ve heard our friends say it. Some of us have even heard our brothers, our sisters, our mothers or our fathers say it. 

“I would do anything to meet them.” 

As dedicated music fans, this hyperbolic statement doesn’t always seem so outlandish. While we may joke about selling our souls and signing away our worldly possessions, what would we really be willing to give up in order to meet our favorite artists?

For David Bonderman, a Texas-based investment mogul with a soft spot for the Rolling Stones, a check for a mere $7 million did the trick. Other music fanatics have emptied their wallets for the likes of Elton John, who charges around $4 million for his private appearances, Bon Jovi, who earned $1 million for a private concert and even 50 Cent, who charged $500,000 for his performance at a bat mitzvah. The driving force behind all of these appearances, however, is neither fanciful nor imaginative; instead, it is purely capitalistic. Gone are the days of pleading for backstage access and waiting to catch a glimpse of the musicians after a show. Instead, as Steve Eizing, founder of, explained in an interview with CNN, “It all comes down to the money.” 

Eizing’s website acts as a liaison between wealthy music fans and an array of artists, ranging from Etta James to the Spice Girls. Within 24 hours of your request, the online talent agency will respond with a monetary estimate for the private show. Thanks to this website, and others like it, an impressive roster of performers has become available for private booking. Corporations have shelled out millions of dollars in order to book “big acts” to impress their clients and entice the media, while wealthy brides and grooms are renting their favorite musicians for their post-vow entertainment. 

Perhaps it’s just the jealousy, but I can’t help but be disappointed in these outrageous pricetags. While I understand the appeal of such a large payout for the artists, these estimates exceed absurdity. While the occurrence of a $6 million concert is rare, the massive numbers are indicative of the rising cost of daily concert tickets and festival passes. As a result of the increasingly capitalistic focus of the industry, the cost of shows, whether private or public, makes it harder for the true fans to attend. When I hear stories about friends catching their favorite artists at a bar after a show or snagging an autograph outside of the venue, my heart warms a little. These transcendent moments of handshakes or even hugs, make the waiting worthwhile. Wouldn’t paying these artists to say hello or sign an autograph seem like a cheap form of bribery? In addition to the excitement that these moments provide, they also serve to remind us of the humanity of our idols. 

So, as the artists cash in, will the fans check out? Of course, it takes a lot to deter a true fan from getting to a show, but I believe some respect will be lost for the artists who choose to play for money before playing for fans. But, another question remains: How, then, can the average music fan get a private show? The answer, it seems, relies as heavily on money as the show itself does; we’ve all got to find some friends with a little extra cash and a lot of love for our favorite bands.