Dave DiMartino
September 25, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

What if they gave a concert and nobody came? Bruised egos and reputations aside, empty stadiums are no big deal to many performers because of the guarantee, the lowest figure for which artists agree to play. Typically, the fee is leveraged against an agreed-upon percentage of ticket sales, so that the artist will take home whichever piece is bigger — the guaranteed figure or the gross cut.

Except in the very biggest cases — like a Madonna or a Paul McCartney — artists are usually flexible about their guarantee demands, especially when playing smaller metropolitan areas. Guarantee figures are guarded, but word trickles out — especially when promoters think performers have overestimated their worth. Here’s what sources say a few of this summer’s biggies were promised:

PAULA ABDUL: $125,000 — but, some promoters say, she was really worth $75,000

CROSBY, STILLS & NASH: Between $75,000 and $100,000 (the higher figure was way too much, some say)

B-52’s: $75,000, with sales looking soft

RINGO STARR: $75,000

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER: $40,000 — not a lot for former superstars, but radio has ignored their reunion album

Lollapalooza Tour: A big $200,000, and, all agree, worth every penny.

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