Las Vegas Becomes the Secret Weapon of Musicians in a Spotify World

October 19, 2018, 1:50 PM UTC

Britney Spears is hitting Vegas one more time. And who can blame her?

The singer announced Thursday her return to Las Vegas for a residency at the Park Theater at the Park MGM casino and resort. It’s a triumphant homecoming for Spears, who will share the venue with artists such as Cher, Lady Gaga, and Aerosmith.

That’s a far cry from the days when acts like Wayne Newton and Liberace ruled the strip. But as the financials of the musical world evolve and artists earn less from streaming services like Spotify (SPOT), Las Vegas has become a place where successful acts can still command a windfall amount.

Spears is living proof. Her Britney: A Piece of Me residency at the Planet Hollywood resort earned her $140 million over four years and 250 performances. (That works out to $560,000 per show, to save you the math.) Fans happily paid up to $855 to see her perform hits such as “Toxic,” “Oops, I Did It Again,” and “Slave 4 U”.

While the terms of the deal weren’t released, she’ll almost certainly make more this time. Park MGM has been paying top dollar to acts. Gaga is said to be earning as much as $1 million per show, in a deal worth nearly $100 million.

Down the strip at Caesar’s, DJ Calvin Harris is making a reported $1 million per show with his EDM (electronic dance music) hits.

Part of the reason for the surge of big acts in Vegas—as well as the why casinos are willing to pay generously to house them—is their drawing power for millennials, who are coming to Sin City in droves these days. Those guests don’t gamble as much, but they are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for tickets to see top-tier musical acts (and cult favorites, like Puddles Pity Party, the 7-foot tall clown with the baritone voice who broke through on America’s Got Talent and will have a residency at Caesar’s Cleopatra’s Barge starting next year).

Other artists currently in Vegas for residencies (or headed there in the coming months) include Gwen Stefani, Queen (with Adam Lambert), Blink-182, and Mariah Carey, who will step in after Celine Dion wraps up her final run in the city after two decades there.

The other part of the appeal? Artists’ brands are marketed in a big way year-round, even as they perform a nominal number of shows. And as Las Vegas attracts a wider assortment of people with a new football team on the way and one-off acts at the T-Mobile Arena, that marketing can be invaluable.