The public needs entertainment. This is without a doubt and is a fact. It needs
entertainment daily especially when work becomes more difficult and people's
lives become harder, more harried and
stressful with the daily battle for survival. Entertainers in the form of
singers, musicians, film stars and sports superheroes supply this entertainment.
However, fans and followers of sports and other forms of entertainment are
increasingly demanding and sophisticated in their requirements for
entertainment. The stars who are able to command their fan's loyalty and
following will therefore command higher fees than entertainers who cannot pull
in the numbers.
It is a fact of life that the market rules in deciding how
much a product is worth. Entertainers who have better skills or talents will be
paid more by their employers.
Let us take the case of the famous basketball legend, Michael Jordan. He was
not only a good shooter, but he was also a man of many talents. He was also a
charismatic entertainer. In many cases, his presence on the court ensured the
success of the team he played for. This was the reason for the Chicago Bulls'
successes in the NBA Championship. Jordan was not only a rare sports talent but
he also had a respectable public image. He not only ensured a large following in
America by his mere presence, but he also had legions
of fans abroad. The NBA show was telecast to many countries. Jordan's image as a
famous sports personality could be used to market numerous consumer products.
Despite Jordan commanding hefty fees for his match appearances, he made
substantial profits for his management. Even though he was paid excessively (in
the opinion of some critics), he ensured prosperity for his backers.
The same thing could be said of David Beckham, the famous football player
from Manchester United Club who later switched to Real Madrid. He had to be paid
millions of pounds to renew his contract. However, Beckham with his famous
bending kick ensured revenues for his club and attracted scores of screaming
fans. In Japan, he is the most recognisable figure on consumer advertisements
and people are even willing to pay to sleep in the rooms he last occupied in the
hotels he stayed in.
Therefore, fan base and skills are used by agents to justify the fees they
pay to famous sports figures. Some can be leading sports figures in their
countries but only a few can be sports heroes. The same arguments can be used to
justify the astronomical sums paid to leading public entertainers like famous
musicians, film stars and singers.
Madonna, the pop singer, sells millions of records worldwide. However, she
fares less well when she acts. Her fees are substantially higher as a singer
than as an actress. Pavarotti, the famous tenor and his fellow singers like
Dominigo can command sell-out performances when they tour globally. Hence, their
concerts can command high ticket prices and fans are prepared to queue up and
pay for these tickets. Some cast members of 'Friends' (the hit American show
which is syndicated globally) were paid five-figure sums per episode.
The arguments against the payments of these stars are that the sums are too
uncomfortably excessive. Paying excessive sums to these stars increases the
costs of their performance. Even some football stars like David Beckham admit
that they are overpaid excessively. The salary of Leonardo Di Caprio, who
starred in the hit film `Titanic' increased after it attained cult status.
Hence, high ticket prices may have to be borne by the average cinema goer to
view their performance. Producers may think twice before hiring such stars who
require superstar salaries, and there may be fewer performances from them, a
loss to the public.
Again, the sums paid to these people seem astronomical compared to the
paltry wages of poor workers in the world. A
night's performance earned by a superstar may be a lifetime income to the poor.
"Where is the fairness?", critics will ask regarding these excessive fees.
Some shows, like television shows and sports matches, may not be held if
superstars do not obtain the fees they demand. However, I am glad that a move
has been made to water down the increasing tendency to raise fees of star
performers in order to obtain their services. The recent global recession has
also lowered the high fees. My view is that superstars should command more but
not the excessive amounts they are paid presently.