Marshmello's Las Vegas Residency Might Be the City's Most Expensive Yet: Behind the Deal
While top nightlife players have been known to never reveal their numbers, there is a general consensus Calvin Harris and the masked DJ are now Vegas' highest paid DJs.
When the news dropped Monday that superstar masked DJ Marshmello would be a resident at the new Kaos Dayclub & Nightclub set to open at Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort in April, a myriad of claims about the financials behind the deal hit the rumor mill.
Multiple sources reported that Palms would pay Marshmello $60 million for an unspecified number of dates over a two-year period of time. Others claimed that it was the "largest EDM deal in the history of the city."
However, Las Vegas' major nightlife players have been known to never reveal their numbers, and to date no one from Palms will confirm those specifics.
"I don't know where that number is coming from. We don't disclose our deals. I don't know what the talent deals look like at other properties, and I know they don't officially disclose," says Palms Casino Resort GM Jon Gray. "Outside of the total reinvestment dollar figure disclosed publicly on earnings calls -- $690 million -- Palms/Station Casinos does not disclose the specifics of individual project costs, partner deals or residency contracts."
What Gray can confirm is that Marshmello will play more dates in the calendar year than he did at his previous home, Wynn Las Vegas, and that schedules will be released about 60 to 90 days out.
So just how does Marshmello's Palms gig stack up in the Las Vegas pantheon of DJ paychecks?
A quick scan of Omnia Nightclub's website shows that Calvin Harris, the reigning king of high-paid DJs, appears almost every Friday night. According to Forbes' 2018 list of the highest-paid DJs, Harris was No. 1, earning $48 million overall, while Marshmello was No. 5 at $23 million. Industry blogs question whether Harris is being paid $1 million dollars or £1 million pounds per show for his work with Hakkasan Group. Presumably, the deals between the two could be in close range, taking into account inflation and Marshmello's ever-increasing popularity in 2019.
The excitement and conversation created by this guessing game is great marketing, as it keeps public interest in tune with what's happening in the Las Vegas club scene.
"Marshmello's track record has been phenomenal. He's on an amazing run. He's the No. 4 most streamed artist right now. We feel that what he's doing, his whole team, is very creative. They've done some phenomenal initiatives like the Fortnite takeover, and I know he's got some incredible things in the pipeline," Gray says. "He's done some amazing collaborations that give him a lot of range that will excite guests. In addition to that, we really are creating a one-of-a-kind show experience together, leveraging all the great technology in the new room. This isn't just a guy who comes in with the same set list and presses play -- he's creating a show with great visuals, pyrotechnics and all the technology in the space. This is not a DJ set. This is a real concert."
Last year, the rumor mill about Marshmello coming to Palms started to churn when the DJ played the wedding of Kelley Ann Fertitta, daughter of Palms owner Frank Fertitta.
Gray, who has seen Marshmello perform many times, loves the energy he brings to every performance, whether he's playing a small venue or a large venue, as well as the visuals that go along with his set. "He's done some really cool things with the helmet, and it's got LED now," he says. "He's really into the music. He doesn't mail it in. He doesn't have the same set list. He watches the room. He reads it. His sets are different every time he plays, and I truly respect that."
The process for this residency started with Palms reaching out to Marshmello's team, who were aware of the plans for Kaos and the reenvisioning of the property.
"They were really excited about what they could create with us and it starts with our ownership group. They'd be joining an incredible group of guys with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and a great team -- Ronn Nicolli and Ryan Craig.... We work with the talent directly on the deal points, on the production points, the marketing -- I think that was a refreshing approach," Gray says.
These deals typically run as two-year relationships and there is a period of time when the artist's contract is ending with a property that they can court new opportunities or resign.
"We knew the length of time he had at his previous engagement and there was a timeline on which they could negotiate with us," says Gray. "It's becoming more like sports. We work through negotiations during that window. Again, very respectful of the market and the relationships. It's really between the talent management and the property. Each deal's different. When DJs have engagements with other properties, there's a window of time that you can [talk] with them, and we certainly were respectful of that. The conversation [takes] several months."
Marshmello, as a performer, gravitates more toward the dayclub, where 75 percent of his performances will occur. And Gray says the DJ has some "fun ideas" for that space, which has a capacity of 6,000.
"We know that it's certainly trending upward right now, the dayclub market in Las Vegas. We do think we'll be the premier dayclub in the city. With the opportunity that Moe [Shalizi, Marshmello's manager] and Marshmello presented to us with some of their ideas, we felt it was a natural fit."
Entrance prices work in different tiers depending on the performance. On some dates, Marshmello is playing the nightclub, which will also have dayclub area open, so guests can either go just to the nightclub, to the pool, or both. Tickets start at $25 for women and $35 for men.
"As the demand increases, the rates go up. That's how the ticketing tiers work. It's kind of like hotel rooms, because you're running out of capacity."
The currently under-construction pool area includes a massive lotus flower structuring canopy covering the outdoor stage. Marshmello will have his own intricate production elements. "The stage [he will be on is] custom to him. [It will have a] pretty iconic element of his whole look and feel that you'll see come to life in the stage. It's got a lot of technology embedded in it. It'll be one-of-a-kind; you won't see it anywhere else in the world, and you'll only get to see it when Marshmello performs."
How high will the ticket prices go with the potential demand of 6,000 people per performance?
"They'll keep going," Gray says. "We've seen the market can sustain $500 tickets at the door."
Dates have currently only been announced through May, with the rest of summer schedule to be revealed in about a month.
This relationship goes well beyond just the walls of the club. For younger fans, Gray says they might even do some all-ages shows inside the Pearl, although nothing has been finalized. "He's got such a great range of audience that we want to make sure we are enabling some of those experiences that he can create, because he does have such a following."
Around the property, expect Marshmello-themed desserts starting opening weekend, as well as other fun nuances. And the burning question everyone wants to know -- will there be any Marshmello helmets available for purchase in the gift shop?
"We gotta talk to the team about that. They've got some manufactured in the past. Obviously, people love those helmets," Gray says. "I have a couple at my house. My kids love wearing them. They run around the house and they're DJs all day, which is pretty funny."