It recently came to my attention that for the past two years, Ed Turner & Number 9 have been paid for the Beatles benefits staged each August at the Imperial.
I’m glad to hear it.
I called Mr. Turner and he confirmed that each member of the band is paid approximately $1,400 for the two performances. That might, on the surface, seem like a lot, but let’s break it down.
The band rehearses twice a week, for at least four hours, for four moths before the performance. Mr. Turner said the weekly average is probably about 11 hours. Beatles music is hard. That’s what it takes, even for musicians as trained and talented Number 9.
That means that members of the band are paid $1400 for 154 hours of work, or about $9 per hour. Not bad, but not great either.
But there’s more, more to be factored into that number. For instance, that does not take into account the time spent practicing the songs at home, or prepping for and playing warm-up dates, such as this year’s rooftop and Sky City shows. It doesn’t include the time spent promoting the shows, appearing on television or, even worse, talking to newspaper reporters.
It certainly doesn’t take into account those things more difficult to quantify, such as the years spent becoming musically proficient enough to be able to pull off these impressive sets. How to you put an hourly rate on the time spent away from family and friends, holed up instead with Mean Mr. Mustard.
And lest we forget, playing music costs money. Guitar strings cost money. Drum sticks and heads cost money. Instrument maintenance costs money.
Of course, all this would be academic if, despite being billed as benefits, no money made its way to charities. But that has hardly been the case. This year, the concerts cleared $27,000. Over the past three years, they have raised $90,000.
For all of that, Number 9 gets paid $9 hour. If you ask me, it would be a bargain at twice the price.