While the recording biz is on the skids, the concert biz is bigger than ever. Besides the ’60s and ’70s icons soaking boomers for their Depends money on the outdoor and arena circuit, there is a whole new avenue open to lesser stars – Indian casinos:
- Some 80 of the nation’s 320 Native American casinos boast professional-quality stages. In addition to the cash–payouts start at $25,000 and climb to $100,000–the shows offer artists from The Temptations to The Turtles a chance to stretch out their fame just a little bit longer.
“A lot of artists, by being routed among the Indian casinos, have rejuvenated their careers,” says Kip Ritchie, marketing director for Potawatomi Bingo Casino, the $120 million, 250,000-square-foot complex in downtown Milwaukee. Early Eighties icon Olivia Newton-John fell off the pop charts long ago, but all 500 tickets for her June 16 show at Potawatomi sold out in ten minutes.
….The casinos have a bit of additional leverage: In many regions of the country, they are the only game in town. “They’re out in the hinterlands,” says Howard Silverman, who books [Sheena] Easton and other faded stars, like Taylor Dayne, at Indian casinos about a dozen times a year. “Indian casinos don’t compete with city bookers.”
The casinos book top comic talent, too. Bill Cosby makes $65,000 to $100,000 per show up to 30 times a year, pulling in up to $3 million a year in guaranteed fees. Jay Leno, who is on the road nearly every weekend, stops by Indian casinos a dozen times a year, at $100,000 a pop. [Forbes]
I met Olivia back in the early ’80s working for a Japanese pop music show – I have a hard time thinking of her as anything other than “Oh-ri-via.”