You are not even prepared to cope with this crazy story. A rich guy recently bought a $250,000 bottle of champagne in a Vegas nightclub on one condition:
The DJ had to play a song request. Do you hear what I am saying? One song — $250,000.
My source: Ed Shapiro, the main transactional lawyer for DJs on the Strip. He negotiated $30 million in Vegas DJ contracts for 2013.
In March, I heard a rumor a VIP bought a ton of champagne at Marquee nightclub in the Cosmopolitan, but Marquee denied it.
Shapiro would not tell me which DJ, club or VIP was involved. But here’s how it went down a few months ago.
Someone at the club whispered in the DJ’s ear, “I would never ask you this, but we have a gentleman who has got a table with a fairly large entourage with him. If you spin this one song he will buy a $250,000 bottle of champagne.”
The club person handed the DJ a USB drive with the song on it. The DJ did not have to play it. But he listened to it and said he could make it work. He played it. And:
“The guy purchased the $250,000 bottle. And not only that, he bought something like another 30 bottles for the whole place,” Shapiro says.
At the end of the night, the DJ asked someone at the club, “What’s my cut.”
The DJ’s cut was nothing. Nada.
But was the DJ upset? No.
Do you know why?
Because top DJs on the Strip already get paid as much as $500,000 per night. And when that DJ’s contract comes up next time, the happy champagne episode will keep club relations as smooth and respectful as usual.
If you want more stories and insights from Shapiro, you can see him on a music-business panel at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the industry conference called EDMbiz, which is today-Thursday at the Cosmopolitan (EDMbiz.com).
Shapiro represents star DJs Kaskade, Eric Prydz, Dirty South, Alesso, Arty, Above & Beyond, Gareth Emery, Swanky Tunes, Hard Rock Sofa, Matt Zo and Adventure Club.
Shapiro, based in New York, says Vegas DJs generally get paid $25,000-$500,000. Top earners are “good at the bottle service,” he says:
“So you’re talking about Kaskade. You’re talking about Calvin Harris. You’re talking about Tiesto.”
To put DJ fees in perspective: It’s not seven-figure Rolling Stones money. Shapiro did legals for the first leg of the Stones tour.
But he points out some DJs merely walk into a club with nothing but a USB thumb drive full of songs, or a laptop and a mixer, and they plug into a club’s sound system.
To the contrary, pop acts such as the Stones, Beyonce and Chris Brown pay for 18-wheelers full of tour-production equipment, plus tour staffs, and venues must sell expensive seats in arenas.
“You can’t walk into the Staples Center with two turntables and a mixer, put the lights down and put on a show,” he says. “There’s no bottle service at the Stones” shows.
So anyway, star DJs are worth the money — as long as they bring in those champagne VIPs.
“You get the wealthiest people in the world showing up in Vegas, and you get people who have scraped together pennies to show up,” Shapiro says.
“That (Vegas club) model is about bringing in guys who put down their black (credit) card, buying tables and bottles of champagne and hard liquor. They (clubs) want real value for those tables.
“Kids drinking screwdrivers or cosmopolitans (martinis) and beers all night — that’s not a good model.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.