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Rihanna Reportedly Rakes in Five Million Pounds for a Private Party, Which Begs the Question: When Did Performances Start Costing So Much?

In 1969, even considering the cost of inflation, many high-tier British bands could be secured for shows for less than £10,000.

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Source: MEGA / Bill Rowntree/Mirrorpix/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Rihanna and the Small Faces: even with inflation, the Small Faces were quite the bargain, comparatively speaking

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This past Friday, Rihanna delivered a private performance during a private pre-wedding get-together for the son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani. The gig in question, which was momentous enough to warrant coverage in Variety, was Rihanna’s first live performance of note since playing the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII, but one of the reasons it’s drawn such attention is the price tag involved to secure the singer for such a show.

Per the online incarnation of The Daily Mail, Rihanna scored a cool £5 million – that’s $6.33 million in the US – for her performance. While this may seem like a staggering amount of money, let’s put it in perspective with two pieces of information:

  1. Ambani’s net worth has been estimated by Forbes to be around $116 billion, so it’s not like he doesn’t have the funds.
  2. When Ambani’s daughter was married in 2018, her ceremony featured a performance by Beyoncé, so this sort of spending isn’t exactly unprecedented within the family.

Now, granted, Rihanna is obviously one of the biggest artists in the world, so it’s to be expected that she wouldn’t work cheap, but... doesn’t that seem a bit pricey?

Well, actually, no.

As it turns out, it’s about on par for the sort of small shows that high-profile artists have been doing in recent years.

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Source: MEGA

Jennifer Lopez performs at the UNICEF Luisa Via Roma charity concert in Capri

In 2013, Jennifer Lopez was reportedly paid more than a million dollars for a three-song concert for Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow... or four songs, if you count the version of “Happy Birthday” that her management said she was “peer-pressured” into singing.

In 2023, The New Yorker offered up a piece by writer Evan Osnos entitled “How to Hire a Pop Star for Your Private Party,” detailing the specifics of what rapper Flo Rida was earning for his private gigs.

“Flo Rida’s fee for private gigs in the United States runs between a hundred and fifty thousand and three hundred thousand dollars, depending on location, scale, and other particulars,” wrote Osnos. “Reginald Mathis, his lawyer, told me, ‘Internationally, it could run you up to a million.’”

The same year, Beyonce performed a private show at Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, her first live performance in five years, and was reportedly paid over $24 million for her trouble.

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Source: MEGA

Beyoncé stuns in glittering ensemble created by Brazilian brand PatBo during Renaissance tour

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Yes, corporate gigs and private parties have become a major moneymaker for artists of varying degrees of popularity in recent years, but it's a trend that's served to price a lot of artists into a realm where the average fan can't possibly afford to see them in such a small venue.

It wasn't always this way, however, and a 1969 letter sent by the London-based firm Commercial Entertainments to the Queens College in Oxford that's been making the rounds online provides some insight into what it used to cost to secure performances by some of the biggest bands in the UK as the ‘60s were coming to a close.

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Take the Small Faces, for instance. At the time the letter was written, they were only seven months past having scored a No. 1 hit with their album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, they’d had two top-10 singles in the previous six months (“Itchycoo Park” and “Tin Soldier”), and yet they were doing shows for £450... and they're the highest-paid group on that list. Others include Pink Floyd, Ten Years After, the Troggs, the Pretty Things, Joe Cocker, Fleetwood Mac, and the Moody Blues.

But even factoring in the cost of inflation between 1969 and 2024, you still could’ve secured the Small Faces for a show for well under £10,000, which is decidedly less than the sort of money that Flo Rida is pulling in, let alone J. Lo, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.


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