Megamillion-dollar label deals are a thing of the past. But with Usher, Timberlake and Swift nearing the end of their contracts, this is how majors will have to fight to keep them.
Taylor Swift, Usher and Justin Timberlake are about to enter an all-too-familiar crossroads for pop superstars: Their next albums will also be the last ones due to their respective major labels (Big Machine/Universal for Swift, RCA for Timberlake and Usher).
But unlike the mega-stars of yore, today’s top acts face a different marketplace in which they’re required to work much harder for their hefty advances — with lower sales to show for it. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to 2001 to a find a nine-figure commitment, when Whitney Houston re-upped with Arista for a multi-album deal worth $100 million. Britney Spears recently renewed her deal with RCA for an undisclosed sum, sources tell Billboard. But when Timberlake, Swift and Usher head to the table, what can they expect?
“The trend is definitely toward shorter [term] deals on both sides,” says Donald Passman, an entertainment lawyer at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown who negotiated Janet Jackson’s $80 million EMI contract in the 1990s and authored the book series All You Need to Know About the Music Business. “The industry is in distress and digital is not picking up the slack, so the big companies are worried about long-term commitments, and the artists tend to take longer between product. Unless you’re Taylor Swift, very few can command a top-of-the-market deal.” Sony Music chief creative officer Clive Davis concurs: “There will be a fair and hard negotiation to re-sign her,” he says.
Today, the high end of a recording contract is a $7 million-plus advance per album, but it’s rare that an artist secures that large a payout without giving up a piece of his or her ancillary income. Indeed, 360 deals are now the norm among newer acts — One Direction, Ed Sheeran and 5 Seconds of Summer all have revenue-sharing agreements with their labels on touring, merch and other back-end fees. So are such hefty upfront payments a thing of the past?
“Each case is different,” offers Kenny Meiselas, a senior partner at Grubman Shire & Meiselas, who represents Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga. “When you have an artist at the peak of their career, I’ve never seen a record company not be open to renegotiating and treating their artist fairly.” Meiselas would know: He just renegotiated Mary J. Blige’s contract with Universal Music Group, moving her from Interscope to Capitol for her anticipated London Sessions album (see story, page 40) in what one source describes as a “very lucrative” deal. Says Meiselas with a smirk: “We figured it out.”
One thing certain about the new contracts is that “marquee artists will own their own masters,” says manager Jim Guerinot, who represented Nine Inch Nails for decades. “When Nine Inch Nails did their deal, they signed for a high royalty with a low advance and they own the master. Artists make most of their money on the road anyway.”
Indeed, adds Joel Katz, chairman of global entertainment and media practice for Greenberg Traurig, who reps Timberlake among other music clients: “Artists will not only want to reserve as many rights as they can, they will also want to retain ownership of their new albums.”
That’s if they choose to stick with a label, rather than taking the DIY route, as acts like Wilco and Prince have done with varying degrees of success. A major facing a defection can offer one more carrot, however: an imprint. Pharrell Williams has one (I Am Other with Columbia) as does Maroon 5′s Adam Levine (222 Records through Interscope). Such deals not only give acts signing power, but allow them to license new releases for “pressing and distribution” (or P&D) deals, which can net as much as an 80 percent to 85 percent profit split, compared with the more standard 50/50 share. However, Timberlake (with Tennman for Interscope) and Usher (with US Records for Sony’s J) have already tried that approach, with little to show for it. Still, labels may look to revive the concept come re-up time.
Resident shows may be an integral part of the Las Vegas experience, but Sin City has also become a popular stop for artist on U.S. tours. Vegas visitors have shown a strong propensity for taking a break from Cirque du Soleil and catching one of their favorite artists as they make a stop on The Strip.
This week’s Vegas concert slate is headed by none other than Justin Timberlake. Timberlake will be performing on Friday, November 28th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. At an average price of $327.39, JT’s show is the most expensive of this week’s Vegas concert tickets. Despite Timberlake’s status as a modern pop icon, there is still the perfect hint of nostalgia in seeing him perform in Vegas. With ex-girlfriend Britney Spears in the middle of a two year residency at Planet Hollywood, it stands to reason that JT also perfectly captures that late 90’s preteen zeitgeist. That same demographic are now 20-somethings making the trip to Vegas. The get-in price for Timberlake’s show is currently $77.
With Justin Timberlake tickets leading the secondary market for Vegas concerts goes well to exemplify the purchasing power of millennials, many of the other concerts in Vegas this week are doing just fine when it comes to ticket demand, despite appealing to more mature demographics. The second most expensive concert in Vegas this week is Stevie Wonder’s show on Saturday, also at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Tickets for this concert currently carry an average price tag of $206.82, with a get-in price of $56.
For the more rebellious Vegas visitor, Alice Cooper will be rocking the Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort on Wednesday, while Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders will be doing the same two nights later on Friday. Both shows have get-in prices of exactly $50 at the moment, but Chrissie Hynde outpaces Alice Cooper by 24.1% when it comes to overall averages. Currently, tickets for Chrissy Hynde’s show carry an average secondary market price of $161.37, compared to $130.05 for Alice Cooper.
If R&B and hip hop are more your speed as opposed to pop or rock, Boyz II Men will make an appearance at the Terry Fator Theatre in the Mirage Hotel and Casino on Saturday, November 29. Despite being one of only four artists to ever hold the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for more than 50 consecutive weeks (the others being Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Mariah Carey), Boyz II Men is among the least expensive Vegas concert tickets this week, checking in at an average of $106.64. Interestingly enough however, this show actually has the most expensive get-in price of our featured concerts for the week, at $87.
Although average secondary market ticket prices are varying rather substantially, with get-in prices for all of the week’s hottest concerts ranging from $50-87, there is really something for everyone when it comes to Vegas concert tickets this week, regardless of musical taste.
Singer Justin Timberlake is offering his fans the chance to be his road manager for a day while raising money for a music charity.
JT announced the competition on Twitter and fans from all over the world immediately stating pledging funds to the ‘Musicians on Call’ charity which is an organisation that says it is “dedicated to sharing the healing power of music with hospital patients and their friends, family and caregivers”.
Fans were told that the more they donate the more chance they will get to join the former boy band singer in New York for the day during his concert in Brooklyn.
The maximum donation of £5,000 will get that lucky fan 1000 extra entries, a tour microphone signed by Justin along with the campaign hoodie, the t-shirt and a thank you e-card.
Even fans who can’t afford a donation are allowed to take part but they will only have one entry into the prize draw to get up close and personal with the successful singer.
honoring the man responsible for how fabulous JT looks in a suit, Justin and other celebrities gathered in Hollywood last night for the Tom Ford Gala.
Justin Timberlake attends amfAR LA Inspiration Gala honoring Tom Ford at Milk Studios on October 29, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Wifey was not on his arm for the event, Rumor has it that Mrs.T is expecting ….. we shall have to see!
Justin Timberlake boarded his private jet at Adelaide airport on Wednesday, Spetember 24, 2014. Justin played two sold out concerts while in town. His next stop on the Australian tour is Brisbane. The singer was very low key while staying in Adelaide with barely any sightings.
WHERE does international popstar and avid golfer Justin Timberlake go to have a hit while in Adelaide? Nowhere apparently, with the exclusive Royal Adelaide Golf Club too busy for the SexyBack singer on the weekend.
Timberlake’s entourage, including his security detail, reportedly scoped out the highly-rated course at Seaton on Sunday afternoon but the perfect spring conditions ensured the manicured fairways and greens were already overrun by players.
Timberlake, whose golf handicap is said to be in single figures, previously played nine holes at Royal Adelaide when he was in town back in 2007.
Club general manager Andrew Gay said he was unaware the megastar was considering playing the course when contacted by The Advertiser.
Timberlake jetted into Adelaide on Saturday, enjoying a quiet evening at his CBD hotel. Unable to get a game in on Sunday he headed out to Norwood’s Hoyts cinema for a screening of the new animated children’s flick, Planes: Fire & Rescue .
Wearing a yellow baseball cap, green top, khaki pants and white sneakers, Timberlake — who was minus actress wife Jessica Biel — was ushered into the complex through a back entrance by an entourage of about 12 people, including a van full of security guards.
Surprisingly, the singer, who’s rumoured be trying to start a family with Biel, didn’t secure the entire cinema, and was joined by other patrons for the screening.
Only a small group of fans were aware of Timberlake’s appearance at the film, which was a closely guarded secret. The cinema remained tight-lipped after signing confidentiality forms prior to his arrival.
Justin brought “SexyBack” to the top of Billboard Hot 100! I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since FSLS.
(So, I realized that it’s not Sept 9th in the US just yet, but it is where I am)
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