Sat, 13 May 2000

Local pop singers's fees in the stratosphere

By Endi Aras

JAKARTA (JP): Showbiz means money and glitter. You only need to have good looks, a good voice and a good slice of luck to be on the way to becoming a millionaire.

So says Krisdayanti, one of Indonesia's top female singers. She reportedly gets Rp 100 million per show. Other pop singers, such as Reza, can fetch up to Rp 70 million a night.

Newcomers like Andien and Rossa, with only two albums to their credit, can ask for between Rp 7 million to Rp 15 million a show, comparable to the monthly salary of a middle-level manager in a local company.

Music promoter Log Zhelebor reckoned figures like this were common in the industry.

"There is no rigid standard or criteria used when setting the rate for an artist," said Log.

The rate is determined by an artist's popularity and the number of hit albums he or she has had.

"If their songs are popular and their albums are selling very well, their bargaining power with event organizers or recording companies is strong," Log said.

Event organizers, music promoters and managers have the power to decide fees for each artist. "It is a kind of word-of-mouth business, we often contact other promoters to ask how much money to give the singers," added Log.

Log suggests artists get familiar with the current market situation.

"Don't be too arrogant and ignorant. A-rate artists may deserve such a high fee, but fading ones don't have much of a choice: take it or leave it," he said.

He continued, saying event organizers should appreciate an artist's achievements. "If they are professional, popular and qualified singers, then the promoters have to pay them well," he added.

He also advised organizers to exclude snobbish artists from their lists. "That is the first rule of the game in this competitive showbiz world," Log said.

Ndol Geaffary, production director of Global Production Services, said many newcomers liked to show their teeth and were narrow-minded.

"It seems they are only looking for a short-term career. If they know that people like their songs, they will act like superstars," he said.

But some artists are quite wise, and are looking to carve out a long-lasting career. Usually, they are very careful in accepting offers and setting fees, explained Ndol.

He said pop singer Ruth Sahanaya and singer/songwriter Iwan Fals were both professional and cooperative.

"A good and professional artist is one who value himself or herself and can closely collaborate with musicians, managers and event organizers," Ndol said.

He went on to say that a number of artists were flexible. Performing at five-star hotels or international convention centers is of course very different from on university campuses or at charity events, he said.

"When Ruth Sahanaya performs in the Jakarta Convention Center with a ticket price of Rp 250,000, it would be unfair if she was paid only Rp 2 million," he said.

But she could lower her fee if she performed in public places like youth centers and university campuses.

Singer Iwan Fals can be paid Rp 50 million at one venue and Rp 15 million at another.

"That depends on the situation and the efforts of the artist," he said.

In one performance, Iwan may sing between 10 and 25 songs. He also has to pay his musicians, backing vocalists and technicians and rehearsal fees. "I think it is fair for him to get that amount of money." he said.

Sometimes, artists are willing to perform at campus shows or at orphanages for free. "They even donate their own money to humanitarian charities," he said.

Ndol said it might be easier to deal with artist managers, but unfortunately there were only a few people who deserve such a title in Indonesia.

"We still don't understand the concept of an artist manager," he said. In foreign countries, professional managers are hired by artists to take care of their business contracts, including their legal and financial affairs. The manager must have very high qualifications for the job.

"Here, an artist often hires his friend, sister, brother or even mother to become his or her manager," he said. Many of them have no managerial or financial background.

But, he also admitted many event organizers lacked professionalism and integrity.

"They are not real event organizers but brokers working for large companies that want to hire a top artist for a company event," he said.

A big company usually pays a lot of money to invite a top artist. "This destroys the 'unwritten' local showbiz payment standards," he said.

As a rule artists make most of their money from stage shows. Recording royalties for artists here are still meager compared to Western artists, who can sell millions of copies of their albums.

"Artists and promoters must know their places and how to negotiate their contracts to create a fair business atmosphere and a professional one as well" he said.