Barbados Government paid Rihanna £1.25 million for concert. Good value or outrageous?

Updated: December 9, 2011

Bajans were told Rihanna was performing “for free”

Thanks to an old friend for referring us back to an August 11, 2011 opinion piece in The Nation. Luigi Marshall – Kudos for making Rihanna show happen.

Mr. Marshall had very positive things to say about the Rihanna concert and we recommend that our readers have a look. One piece of info though: Mr. Marshall repeats the information given at the time that Rihanna was doing the show “for free”. According to the latest revelations, that might not have been true.

But whether Rihanna performed for free or not, as Nevermind Kurt says in his piece below, it is difficult to quantify the benefits from the Rihanna – Barbados association. Mr. Marshall falls into the trap of speculating what the numbers might have been. He pulls them right out of the air and then waves them around to illustrate how much money Bajans made because of the concert. Did 4,000 people arrive on the island just for the concert? I suppose they could have. How did they get here? They didn’t all fly into Grantley Adams in the two days prior to the concert, that’s for sure!

Could it be true that many or even most of the visitors who attended the concert were already here or planned to be here concert or not? I suppose that someone at the BTA has the ability to answer the questions about benefits and costs of the Rihanna concert. I wonder why the BTA hasn’t made a statement about that and backed it up with numbers?

The Daily Star is now repeating that Rihanna was paid for her concert and that she’ll be doing a New Year’s gig at Sandy Lane…

“The government paid Rihanna £1.25million to perform at Barbados Carnival in August as she is obviously their biggest export.

“Everyone is very excited to hear that she’ll be back again so soon and plenty of the islanders are hoping to catch a glimpse of her in town even if they can’t get into the party.”

… from The Daily Star’s Rihanna to sing for Simon Cowell

That’s  £1.25 million for Rihanna… PLUS everything else

by Nevermind Kurt

Music industry sources say that our government paid Bajan Sex Queen Rihanna £1.25 million to appear at her toned-down Kensington Oval concert last August. That’s about US$2.5 million dollars – or 5 million Bajan dollars – and it doesn’t count the venue expenses and everything else associated with the concert. The US$2.5 million dollars is just the pocket change for Rihanna and her entourage.

US$2.5 million dollars buys a whole lotta cutters and beer down at Marcia’s Place in Oistins!

But maybe US$2.5 million dollars was a good price for the Rihanna show. What do I know? So if we paid US$2.5 million of public funds to Rihanna, and the ticket sales were X number of tickets @ an average of X $ per bottom, maybe our overall cost wasn’t US$2.5 million. Or maybe not…

Did the Rihanna concert revenue go to repaying the government ‘investment’? Without Freedom of Information laws we taxpayers will never know.

The government is going to say that visitor numbers were up X% as a result of the Rihanna concert, but that’s not really verifiable with any certainty. I think that the Rihanna concert and long-term engagement by the Barbados Tourism Authority is totally unquantifiable when it comes to measuring the financial benefits to Barbados vs. the cost.

The real question I have is this…

How many people will travel to Barbados as a direct result of the US$2.5 million paid to Rihanna for a single concert in Barbados?

Real doubts about Rihanna’s value to the Barbados tourism brand

As I’ve said on BFP before, most advertising is geared to younger people not because they have disposable income, but to foster brand loyalty early on. If we’re trying to attract the hoards of screaming teenagers (primarily girls) that attend Rihanna’s concerts to be lifelong Barbados fans, then Rihanna’s name associated with Barbados tourism might yield some results in twenty years.

If, however, the BTA thinks that Rihanna’s name will yield more folks from the American midwest that the BTA said we were targeting last year, the results might be disappointing.

I have the impression that Rihanna’s fame is a hoped for opportunity on the part of the Barbados Tourism Authority that might not yield real benefits in terms of increased tourism revenue.

I’d love to be proven wrong. I’d love to see that whatever we’re paying Rihanna in tax dollars is returned ten-fold.

Prime Minister Stuart: Over to you. Show me.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Rihanna

22 responses to “Barbados Government paid Rihanna £1.25 million for concert. Good value or outrageous?

  1. NYC/BGI

    what a waste of money the BTA should have been able to negotiate a real deal where she would perform for a charitable event write off and down the expenses and still everyone would come out a winner. The BTA need to address just how to operate instead of trying to limp through trying to bring tourist to BGI Sad Commentary

  2. If this is true, then Rihanna should be a prime donor, supporter and foundation engager for youth, the homeless, domestic violence and getting to zero with HIV and AIDS by 2015….effective immediately or last week. This insures the belief system that the Barbados’ government is very very lucrative. Did the concert benefit any organization in close form like the artist?

  3. Red Lake Lassie

    Pardon me, but I thought Rihanna did the concert to give something back to her homeland.

    This is terrible. I feel upset that she would demand such money. I had no idea that she was paid this kind of money. It feels kind of dirty like usury and betrayal. I hope I’m not overstating what I feel but it is what I feel. Dirty.

  4. Newbie

    Unless Rihanna promised the potential tourist value for money then I do not believe that the concert will make any difference to arrival figures. People are looking for value for their bucks and right now that is not happening here in Barbados. BTA and the other powers that be needs to look at the high prices of everything here. Why should tourist come here when they can get better value in GUYANNA, MEXICO and other holiday destinations, there is sun and sand in other countries too, what else do we have.

  5. That is just ridiculous… And im not from Barbados…… And why are the things there so effing expensive ….trini really have it good

  6. British Bajan Gal

    Hellooo, I thought Rhianna performed for free and the BTA picked up the expenses of $4m. If indeed she was paid for the concert and charged that price, Barbados really money to waste!!!

  7. just want to know

    And here on BFP there are people who says OA wasted millions of dollars, this wastage of over a billion dollars is really a travesty of justice, when we are in a recession.

  8. Alice in Dreadland

    3 cheers to the oh so business savvy BTA…..No doubt they will either ignore this comment about Riahanna’s payment or they will pass it off as over blown gossip….We shall never know as the BTA whilst spending OUR money has no obligation to tell us a thing about how they spend THEIR budget….Are you not just grateful, (or possibly scared shitless), that the fate of our highest grossing foreign exchange industry is in the hands of these dilettanti buffoons?

  9. runner

    what do you expect ? with the utterance of ” details are to be finalised”, though the concert was history ;know that the shaft is coming. other key words : confidentiality clause; that is : let me take what i can and hide shite from the gullible public and throw a legal cloak over everything.

  10. expenses of $4 million?

    Your kidding right?

  11. rhubarb

    If Rihanna were a true lover of her native land. Barbados, I’d think she’d welcome the opportunity provided to her to give such a concert free of cost, or for just her out of pocket costs. Or perhaps she might have chosen to donate her proceeds to Bajan charities. Imagine what that money could have done for The Salvation Army, The Cancer Society–I won’t list the tens or hundreds of other worthy and struggling charities.! wonder if our gov’t is paying her a stipend for still being our Ambassador
    for Youth? No freedom of information–we’ll never know. Other overseas entertainers give concerts here, and I understand the income tax department is ready to accept a payment from them. I wonder if Rhianna paid a percentage of her fee to the tax department? We’ll ever know–no freedom of information legislation…

  12. Anonymous

    @ Expenses of $4 million….The expenses included an entourage of 100 hangers on, private jets, accommodation, expenses of the band equipment, everything!! I even heard the piano was flown over from wherever included in the expense bill. The BTA and several other sponsors agreed to pick up the expense tab and Rihanna agreed to perform free. Several other deals were made with Rihanna promoting Barbados including in Brazil and other countries where she perfomed her Loud Tour.

  13. onesh

    Good value; she’s a lovely lady and I don’t see why we try to down the top celebrity in the world just because she comes from this little island. The tickets would have covered her fee, and her other band expenses would equal the free publicity she attracted over the whole world. You can never do the maths and get an easy result from these gigs. I look forward to her next gig here. Nevertheless, you have to wonder if we don’t have better things to spend the money on right now. Health, eductaion and the roads need more than a little help. I could list many. We can have all the cake and expect not to share it around.

  14. goldteet

    Why should Rihanna be the only person who loves Barbados so much that she would entertain for free when the others in Government & private sector constantly have their snouts in the public trough.

    Rianna tek whatever come your way. Old age coming soon.

  15. Sarah Daniels

    Why waste money on this wasted efforts. Why don’t the Bagian govt put that money back into the Regulatory System so we they and the Anti Money Laundering Agency can keep moRe money coming to the Govt for proper causes. We need good or better policeing and a more beefed up Financial Investigation Unit – with trained accountants and lawyers. What has gone wrong with the system. Why not take these public interest matters on board.


  16. what will they think of next

    Money well spent. The spinoffs were a tremendous help to businesses in Barbados.

  17. Rstaman

    @what will they think of next.: Which businesses? brothels or prostitution places?

  18. Rastaman

    @what will they think of next: Or maybe you were being sarcastic!!!

  19. Anonymous


  20. Adrian Loveridge


    When exactly did the Public Accounts Committee last meet?

    And would they deal with it like Hotels and Resorts Ltd (GEMS) the proceeds of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock and Hardwood Housing Ltd?

  21. Dog

    For the million time!! rihanna is not preforming at sandy lane..she is a guest of Simon Cowell who most likely will be attending sandy lane new years feast. OK on the next issue,The BTA spends about nearly 70 million a year promoting Barbados.. ..Do any person honestly not bullshitting themselves can say that the other 67 million gained more exposure than this show,We can save a lot of money if we can plug the right artist into this country.Or we can shut it down at two in the morning to make the commissioner happy.

  22. Bentoe

    Why should Rihanna give of her talents to the worse people residing in the Caribbean Archipelagos?