Please explain this 1000% income disparity

Amount paid to Woodstock performers:

Care to give a little more context than just a sentence and an unknown link?

I am shocked - shocked! - to find the payments may have conformed to the law of supply and demand.

Headliners get paid more than warm up bands. Why does this need to be explained?

Jimi Hendrix was capable of generating more than 43 times the revenue as Quill at the time of the concert.

Conversion in today’s money:

  1. Jimi Hendrix: $18,000 ($115,000)
  2. Blood, Sweat and Tears: $15,000 ($95,000)
    3T. Joan Baez: $10,000 ($63,000)
    3T. Creedence Clearwater Revival: $10,000 ($63,000)
    5T. The Band: $7,500 ($48,000)
    5T. Janis Joplin: $7,500 ($48,000)
    5T. Jefferson Airplane: $7,500 ($48,000)
  3. Sly and the Family Stone: $7,000 ($45,000)
  4. Canned Heat: $6,500 ($41,000)
  5. The Who: $6,250 ($40,000)
  6. Richie Havens: $6,000 ($38,000)
    12T. Arlo Guthrie: $5,000 ($32,000)
    12T. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: $5,000 ($32,000)
  7. Ravi Shankar: $4,500 ($28,500)
  8. Johnny Winter: $3,750 ($24,000)
  9. Ten Years After: $3,250 ($20,000)
    17T. Country Joe and the Fish: $2,500 ($16,000)
    17T. The Grateful Dead: $2,500 ($16,000)
  10. The Incredible String Band: $2,250 ($14,000)
    20T. Mountain: $2,000 ($12,700)
    20T. Tim Hardin: $2,000 ($12,700)
  11. Joe Cocker: $1,375 ($9,000)
  12. Sweetwater: $1,250 ($8,000)
  13. John B. Sebastian: $1,000 ($6,300)
    25T. Melanie: $750 ($5,000)
    25T. Santana: $750 ($5,000)
  14. Sha Na Na: $700 ($4,500)
  15. Keef Hartley: $500 ($3,100)
  16. Quill: $375 ($2,400)

So Woodstock-caliber aspirants today might have to be content with $2,400. But the median of $22,000 wouldn’t be so bad.

Sha Na Na had only formed a few months before Woodstock. Quill hadn’t recorded before Woodstock, was only known in a small region, and broke up a year after Woodstock. The Keef Hartley Big Band was only formed shortly before Woodstock and only lasted a few years. Mountain had only formed a few months before Woodstock. I never heard of either of Quill or Keef Hartley or Mountain before now. The other bands and singers are at least reasonably well known (although Sweetwater is known mostly as a band that played at Woodstock but you probably don’t know anything about).

I’m confused, why is ANY explanation required?

Bunch of bands got paid differing amounts to perform at a concert over 50 yrs ago. A wide spread of amounts, based on their popularity, record sales, distance travelled to perform, number of band members etc, etc.

Why would it be otherwise? What were you expecting? That they’d all get some set rate?
Why do you, or should anyone, care all this time later?

Can the OP please explain WHY they feel there is something worth discussion here?

I may be alone in this, but I think The Who went on to have a more successful career than Canned Heat.

Mountain is one of those band’s who’s name I only know from having a car radio that displays song info. They’ve got one popular song, that I know of, Mississippi Queen.

I think the OP will find a huge discrepancy in pay at any music festival. A friend of mine has a band and plays at one of our week long music festivals in Milwaukee. He mentioned that he doesn’t get paid (or at least it’s small enough not to even bring up), but he’s glad just to have an air conditioned dressing room to stay cool between sets. Headliners get paychecks right in the million dollar range.

Since musicians (unlike, for example, CEOs) have limited ability to game the system and claim rewards unrelated to talent, I presume that some are just better than others.

The triple bill of the Dead, Santana, and Joe Cocker for south of $5,000 was a heckuva bargain.

Santana only put out their first album just after Woodstock.

Indeed … the promoters were thus getting them at a bargain rate. Their price was only going to go up :smiley:

Mountain doesn’t have a deep catalog, but they released several tracks of interest to hard rock and metal fans. “Mississippi Queen” was their only major crossover hit.

I work in the Treasury at a multi-day music festival each year that hires many professional acts. The pay range from our lowest paid acts to our headliners differs by a factor of around 50. Bands with no recording history and no track record generally get paid almost nothing. Some acts work entirely for free, just for the chance to play in front of a potential audience of tens of thousands. Of course, because we have multiple stages and some inconvenient show times, most of those unpaid acts wind upplaying before audiences of dozens or a few hundred. My guess is that with the name recognition and recording history of some of the Woodstock bands, they were lucky to get paid at all.

Also importantly, the band’s ability to negotiate a high rate. I’m pretty sure the organizers didn’t just come up with a pay schedule for each of the bands without some serious back-and-forthing about remuneration, particularly at the higher end of the payscale.

The festival promoters behind Woodstock lost a lot of money.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these acts didn’t get paid.

There’s a famous story that one of the bands refused to go on stage until they were paid in cash first.

Here’s some additional rough as bags data which supports the comments above about relative merits of the different artists and their fee.

First figure is albums released to the end of 1969, which may include some post-Woodstock release, but gives a general sense of their musical fecundity. All pale into insignificance behind one R. Shankar with 26 releases! The second is how many of these made it to a US Top 5 position, as a rough measure of popularity. Hendrix went three for three, which is pretty good and probably why he got top dollar.

Ignoring Arlo Guthrie’s platinum, which was probably for cumulative sales over a long period, the only band below the top 10 with a Top 5 was Santana, whose release more or less coincided with the concert, otherwise their fee would have been probably much higher.

  1. Jimi Hendrix: $18,000 - 3 - 3
  2. Blood, Sweat and Tears: $15,000 - 2 - 1
    3T. Joan Baez: $10,000 - 9 - 0
    3T. Creedence Clearwater Revival: $10,000 - 4 - 2
    5T. The Band: $7,500 - 2 - 1
    5T. Janis Joplin: $7,500 - 3 - 2 [solo + BBHC]
    5T. Jefferson Airplane: $7,500 - 5 - 1
  3. Sly and the Family Stone: $7,000 4 - 0
  4. Canned Heat: $6,500 - 4 - 0
  5. The Who: $6,250 - 4 - 1
  6. Richie Havens: $6,000 - 5 - 0
    12T. Arlo Guthrie: $5,000 - 3 - 0? [platinum]
    12T. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: $5,000 - 1 - 0
  7. Ravi Shankar: $4,500 - 26 [global] - ?0
  8. Johnny Winter: $3,750 - 3 - 0
  9. Ten Years After: $3,250 - 2 - 0
    17T. Country Joe and the Fish: $2,500 - 1- 0
    17T. The Grateful Dead: $2,500 - 4 - 0
  10. The Incredible String Band: $2,250 - 5 - 0
    20T. Mountain: $2,000 - 0 - 0
    20T. Tim Hardin: $2,000 - 5 - 0?
  11. Joe Cocker: $1,375 - 2 - 0
  12. Sweetwater: $1,250 - 1 - 0
  13. John B. Sebastian: $1,000 - 1 - 0
    25T. Melanie: $750 - 2 - 0
    25T. Santana: $750 - 1 - 1
  14. Sha Na Na: $700 - 1? -0
  15. Keef Hartley: $500 - 2 - 0
  16. Quill: $375 - 0 - 0

the Who had just put out the Tommy album a few months before Woodstock. Also they almost did not play because there was an issue with their payment ,they wanted the money up front before the show started.

I don’t know when the contracts were signed: promoters who are good for the money and are willing to book with long lead times (that is, colleges, universities) used to sign up bands when they were just starting out and get stars playing for very little money.