With the Grammy Awards right around the corner, fans of the ceremony have often wondered how much the award hosts get paid to stand up in front of millions of viewers to crack jokes, recite the nominations and present the awards. Although there have been some pretty big names standing up to host the show, their Grammy paycheck doesn’t necessarily reflect their celebrity status.
According to Forbes, a Grammy host is only required to be paid $5,000 due to union minimum wage negotiations, according to a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson. However, Forbes estimates the host is getting paid upwards of $20,000 for the three and a half hour gig, which might sound like a nice chunk of money, but put into perspective, it’s only a fraction of what many of the celebrity TV stars are making per episode of their regular programs.
However, despite the Grammys “low” pay, the award show helps give the chosen hosts and/or hostess plenty of exposure. According to Forbes, the 2016 Grammys, which were on a Monday night and hosted by longtime host LL Cool J, garnered 24.95 viewers.
“No one does this for money. He’s not in the first tier in terms of name recognition, so to get his face in front of people who may not be familiar with is very extremely valuable,” Seth Shapiro, a consultant at New Amsterdam Media and professor at the University of Southern California, told Forbes. “It’s kind of an offer you can’t refuse.”
So, although the hosts don’t exactly bring in the big bucks for hosting the Grammys, the exposure can help to massively boost ratings on their regular programs. For example, if a host makes a good impression as a host, he/she has the chance to win over new viewers for their own shows, which leads to higher viewership and ratings, which means that advertisers will be willing to pay more money for spots during that person’s show, which makes them more valuable to the network, which gives that person a chance to negotiate a higher contract, and so on.
“The Grammys are an extremely highly penetrated social media event, and so a [host] adept at doing short form has a great chance of breaking out,” Shapiro told Forbes. “The more buzz [the host] gets, the more of an opportunity it is to get new people into [their] franchise,” Shapiro says.
The same goes for other award shows as well. Although the rate of pay differs for each host and each award show, most of the shows remain on a pretty low-pay scale compared to what the celebrity host usually makes. In 2017, for instance, Jimmy Kimmel revealed his salary for the Oscars: $15,000. “I think it’s illegal to pay nothing,” Kimmel told Variety. That same year, Kimmel brought home $12 million.
Few others have revealed their exact paycheck like Kimmel, but previous Oscar hosts have confirmed that they’re paid very little money, according to CheatSheet. Alec Baldwin, who co-hosted the 2009 Oscars, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013, “They don’t pay you any money; the Oscars pay you like chicken feed. It’s all about the honor of helping to extol film achievement.”
A Hollywood Reporter article from that same year also said that the Oscar host’s fee is typically somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000. According to SAG guidelines, $15,000 is the minimum amount that the Academy can pay, where the Grammys minimum pay is $5,000.
The Tony Awards generally pay their hosts as low as $2,700, and the Golden Globes hosts can get paid upwards of six figures, according to CheatSheet. The pay varies depending on the actor or actress, the specific award show and the minimum wage posted by the SAG guidelines. Although some Oscar performers make a couple thousands dollars for putting on a brief performance, at the Grammys the artists and singers performing during the show don’t make money for their performance, according to Black Enterprise.
Tune in tonight for the 2019 Grammy Awards, (also known as the 61st Grammys), which will air at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PT on CBS on Sunday, February 10.