Q: Miley Cyrus has announced Icona Pop as the opening act for her Bangerz tour. Will this equal fame and fortune for the Swedish duo?
But quite possibly not.
This question assumes that the baby act is even getting paid for the privilege of getting the kids all turnt up for Miley and her super-feminist, extra-nekkid twerking jamboree. Some acts don’t get paid anything. Other singers, I’ve been told by managers and similar people who would know, actually have to pay for the privilege of being an opening act. One young woman, in fact, paid $31,000 to open for a rising British pop group last year.
That said, some big touring acts do pay their openers nominal fees; in the country world, for example, an agent tells me that a lucky baby country star may bring in $3,500 a show. (In comparison, bear in mind that a major star can earn a five figures per concert, easily.) The opening act also gets to sell merch and albums at the concerts, but basic expenses, such as transportation and hotels, aren't covered.
Not that the opening acts tend to care. They're there for the music, man.
Budding country-rock singer Brynn Marie told me that. She opened for Pat Benatar's recent tour with Cheap Trick, and is currently doing some appearances with country acts such as Joe Nichols and Craig Morgan.
Here's how the opening-act world worked for her: Benatar invited Marie to open for one of her shows; the megahitmaker saw Marie rehearsing during the subsequent soundcheck; Benatar loved what she saw; and more and more Benatar gigs followed for Marie.
"I was like, 'Pat, you tell me where and when I will be there.'" Marie recalls.
I'm told that Marie did get paid for shows. But Marie tells me that cash wasn't the reason for hitting the road.
"Honestly, you've got to be financially smart, and that's why we drove ourselves around in a minivan from city to city," Marie tells me. "One night, we had to drive from Nashville to Aspen; oh, it was crazy. But it was all just so I could have this opportunity; just to be with Pat and play for a half-hour in front of fans...when you have that fire in you, it just keeps you going.
"The merch sales totally help out, but people are hearing my voice, and hearing my music; that's priceless. So whether I broke even or had a great night financially, it was all about the experience to me."