IDOL FOR RENT: Like actors who abjure endorsements here, but are happy to do whisky, perfume and car commercials in Japan, there’s an invisible industry where million-selling music stars will do weddings, Sweet 16s and bar and bat mitzvahs for a very hefty price. (The former was part of the setup for the movie Lost In Translation; the latter is an open secret, where ’NSync and Ja Rule have helped wealthy young ’uns announce to the world that they are now a man or woman.)
According to Don Kaplan of the New York Post, former American idol contestants are glutting the private-party market, with a former Idol contestant — winner, finalist or reject — available at prices ranging from exorbitant to competitive. On the top of pyramid is Kelly Clarkson, who charges $300,000 US for a private concert, followed closely by Carrie Underwood, who asks $250,000 per mini-gig.
Taylor Hicks has charged $150,000 for private parties, and Ruben Studdard asks about $75,000 a performance, though he’s been known to charge less than half of that for industry insiders. On the bargain end, Kimberley Caldwell from Season 2 asks $3,000 for a private show, but only $2,000 to just show up and mingle.
Prices fluctuate, however, based on the intangibles of fame, mere buzz, and the client’s own potential importance to the singer’s profile. One ex-Idol manager told the Post that "the price can change overnight and is frequently different depending on who they’re singing for, where and when."
One imagines what contestants in the Canadian version of Idol can get for much more competitive prices – right now, there are probably several onetime Idol hopefuls in bands taking part in the hallowed industry tradition of making unsigned bands pay to play weekend nights at some dingy downtown club.
Some awful part of me that I keep well-hidden when I visit my in-laws has been sitting at my desk imagining a world where I come into millions. After I pay for the usual things — a big house, monster car, a Panasonic 103" plasma TV in every room, the elimination of my enemies — the fantasy turns to renting out Massey Hall and a half dozen of the more irritating Idols who made my Tuesday nights a weekly hour in hell.
I’m thinking Chad Doucette and Steffi D, Suzi, Daryl and Casey from Canadian Idol, and the ever-annoying Kalan, a huge Twister game, several high-pressure hoses attached to a tank of baked beans, and a Norwegian death metal band doing Kurt Weill tunes. And me, sitting in the dark, halfway back from the stage, screaming "Faster! Faster! More beans! More beans!"