Insiders say two Del Mar Fair Grandstand headliners this year will get paid a lot more to play the venue than what they would otherwise get for a local show.
Switchfoot, which would normally command about $30,000 to perform in their hometown, will earn $50,000 to play the fair on July 3. New York--based pop/hip-hop quartet Gym Class Heroes, estimated to be worth about $35,000 for a San Diego show, will get $80,000 for tomorrow's appearance.
"The only way a fair can get a big-name band is to make them a ridiculously huge offer," says one talent buyer. "Fairs way overpay their headliners."
Talent agents often respond to such charges by saying that the musicians are not overpaid but that the band is worth whatever it can get.
"Today, bands have a short shelf life," says the talent buyer. "Maybe they are on top for a year and a half, and then they're gone. The days of bands playing someplace because it is artistically cool are gone. It's now all about making your money while you can."
Over the years, the Del Mar Fair Grandstand stage has hosted Oingo Boingo, REM, James Brown, and Johnny Cash.
"Some artists do fall into that [fairgrounds] circuit and stay there," says Gym Class Heroes manager Scott Nagelberg. "But for [the Gym Class Heroes] it is just an opportunity to get back to San Diego and play at an accessible venue for their fans. I don't think [playing fairs] really has the connotation some people give to it."