Shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night With David Letterman may not have great musical segments for too much longer, as more and more labels decide that performances—such as Van Halen's epic seven-song set on Kimmel—just aren't worth it anymore, according to a Billboard report.
In case you weren't already aware: Musicians featured on late-night talk shows don't get paid for their appearances. That might seem alright, considering the amount of attention and viewership acts get for performing on such a program, but few realize just how expensive it is for an act to stage such a performance. According to the report, it costs at least $25,000 for an entry-level band to appear, and often more. A major event such as Van Halen's performance, which took place right on Hollywood Boulevard cost $400,000 to stage.
Where do those costs come from? Obviously shutting down a major roadway in Los Angeles costs a pretty penny, but often it's just an issue of getting the performer to the gig. Most groups will get to New York City while on tour, of course, but they work at the program's convenience, not their own. In other words, they fly out when the show gives them the opportunity.
As record sales have continued to drop, more labels are seeing a far smaller return on investment, and have therefore have started to pull the plug on appearances.
Another aspect of the talk show circuit that labels have been battling for years is secondary content for the online format. If a band plays a bonus song that's not caught on television, it often ends up exclusively on the site of the host, where those unfamiliar with the band are less likely to search it out. Such clips have a limited lifetime as well: Labels regularly allow such videos to exist online for 30 days, after which they charge producers a publishing fee to keep the clip up. Those fees are more than four figures, and networks rarely see the need to maintain them.