Home > Life and Culture > How much does it cost to bring artists to NU for concerts like Dillo Day and A&O Blowout?

How much does it cost to bring artists to NU for concerts like Dillo Day and A&O Blowout?

Photo credit: Justin Barbin

Popular performers and speakers frequent Northwestern on countless occasions that bring the community into a frenzy of enthusiasm. As students race to purchase tickets that are usually soon to be sold out, they wonder: is this real life? How do the artists turn up at Northwestern? And more specifically, how much do they cost?

In the Internet age, records are losing customers due to streaming and music sharing. As a result, touring and live performances become a major source of income, and a measure of the popularity and worth of the artists. The amount that artists get paid for a performance, their quote, becomes an indicator of their ranking in the business. Just like how artists used to have sales competition to see how their careers are fairing, now the competition turns to quotes.

The quotes can vary for many reasons and are not the absolute representation of the artists’ worth, as the third party in any show invitation besides the artist and the host, the booking agency, can greatly influence the outcome. A few major booking companies and agents form an oligopoly in the touring business. William Morris Endeavor, CAA, the Agency Group, and ICM, for example, represent nearly all the most popular rappers today. The middlemen’s strategies make them the tastemakers in the ranking of quotes.

Understanding the importance of the quotes of artists, without further ado, this article surveys the estimated costs of some artists who will or have made an appearance on Northwestern campus in the past three years. The figures come from scouring the Internet for details on tours posted by industry sites or checking on CelebrityTalent.net, a site that claims to be able to reach out to managers of the performers and speakers to find up-to-date booking fees.

CTI’s estimation provides a range, explaining that the final fees depend on “location of the event, where the celebrity is traveling from, if the celebrity is or is not bringing equipment, if they are very busy or not, what type of show, ie. solo, band, etc.” The following prices do not necessarily represent what Northwestern pays to host the artists, but intend to offer a broad numeric overview of the costs of the concerts that Northwestern students have access to.

Two major stages for artists visiting Northwestern are Dillo Day and A&O Productions. Dillo Day is the country’s largest student-run music festival, and A&O Productions is a non-profit student group that brings entertainment like concerts, film screenings and standup comedies to campus.

Dillo 2013 hosted a lineup of Wiz Khalifa, Lunice from TNGHT, Danny Brown, Walk the Moon and Smash Mouth. Wiz Khalifa is estimated to expect $115,000 for a show on average, and the others get $40,000-$75,000, $20,000, $75,000-$150,000 and $40,000-$75,000, respectively.

Dillo last year witnessed performances from 2 Chainz, OK Go and Chance the Rapper. 2 chainz is estimated to receive a quote of $85,000 on average, which is a huge financial leap for him since 2011. OK GO’s quote ranges from $40,000 to $75,000. Chance the Rapper costs about $35,000, which may not be too impressive a price, but he has played an impressive number of shows lately and is accumulating his wealth and influence. He inked a contract with Cara Lewis and CAA in 2013, which was more than enough to verify his hype.

Dillo 2015 recently announced the lineup. Charli XCX, Odesza, and Miguel are scheduled to take the stage on May 30. CTI estimates Miguel’s quote alone to be $150,000-$250,000.

A&O also keeps a remarkable record of the artists they have hosted over the past three years, which includes Vacationer, The O’My’s, T-Pain, AlunaGeorge, Laverne Cox, Nick Offerman, Big Sean, MS MR, Chromeo, Vic Mensa, Adam deVine and James Franco. Some performed for the A&O Blowout, or A&O ball, and others turned up for Benefit.

Among the long list, both artists that performed for A&O Ball this year, T-pain and AlunaGeorge, expect $75,000-$150,000 in their checks. James Franco falls in the same range. Chromeo tops the list with a wide range of $150,000-$500,000. MS MR is estimated to cost less, placing them somewhere in the $40,000-$75,000 range, while Vic Mensa allegedly has a quote of $10,000, which is lower than the others, but he is praised for the strong materials and expecting a climb in the booking fees.

The estimates offered by online sources do not reflect directly the costs of the artists’ performances on Northwestern campus, but the quotes of artists are an increasingly important indicator of the artists’ place in the business. Next time the performers storm campus with their talents, the audience can attempt to make their own estimation of the costs that go into the becoming of the glamor in front of them.


Theresa Dai

About Theresa Dai

Theresa Wei Dai is from Shenzhen, China and went to high school in Concord, MA. She is majoring in MMSS and Economics, with a minor in International Studies, but she has been very interested and involved in journalism, including attending an Investigating Reporting program in high school.

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