The economics of VMworld party bands

I did a post a few years ago on VMworld bands that I’m updating after the band for this year was announced. Much to my disappoint they failed to get a big name band in favor of two lesser known obscure bands, Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes. I’ve been attending VMworld since 2008 and the official parties have always been a fun way to unwind for a bit and escape after a busy week of hard core virtualization. VMware has had a variety of different bands to play at the party over the years that are listed below:

  • 2007 – Smash Mouth (Treasure Island)
  • 2008 – DJ & Tainted Love (cover band) (Las Vegas Speedway)
  • 2009 – Foreigner (Moscone)
  • 2010 – INXS (Moscone)
  • 2011 – Killers (Venetian)
  • 2012 – Jon Bon Jovi & the Kings of Suburbia (Moscone)
  • 2013 – Train and Imagine Dragons (AT&T Park)
  • 2014 – The Black Keys (Yerba Buena Gardens)
  • 2015 – Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes (AT&T Park)

I like a wide range of music but the only two bands that I really enjoyed seeing at VMworld were INXS and Foreigner which are in the classic rock era that I grew up with. In 2012 I was excited to find out that Jon Bon Jovi was playing which is another band I grew up with but the actual performance I thought was terrible as he played mostly cover songs from other bands and very few Bon Jovi songs. Train in 2013 is an OK band, I like a few of their songs but they are not a band I have a strong desire to see. The Black Keys is another decent band but again don’t have a strong desire to see them. This year they hit a new low though with two small bands that many people have not heard of and I really have no desire to see.

VMware is a big company and certainly has the deep pockets needed to hire bigger name bands, it certainly would be nice to see decent bigger bands play at the VMworld party (they certainly are saving money on those crappy box lunches they feed us). You might wonder how much does it cost to hire a real big name band (a lot), I did some digging and found out. Now if we price out the VMworld bands over the years we get this:

  • 2007 – Smash Mouth – $40K – $60K
  • 2008 – DJ & Tainted Love (cover band) – probably not a heck of a lot
  • 2009 – Foreigner – $40K – $50K
  • 2010 – INXS – ? (prob under $100K)
  • 2011 – Killers – $500K
  • 2012 – Jon Bon Jovi & the Kings of Suburbia – $850K
  • 2013 – Train and Imagine Dragons – Train – $200K-$300K, Imagine Dragons – $400K – $600K
  • 2014 – The Black Keys – $975K
  • 2015 – Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes – Neon Trees – $40K – $45K, Alabama Shakes – $90K – $125K

From 2011 – 2014 VMware spent a considerable amount of money on the musical entertainment for the VMworld party. This year that has totally dropped down to only $150K total. Now for that budget, it limits what decent well known bands you can get, here’s a couple that I would of liked to see that would fit in that budget:

  • 38 Special – $35K – $45K
  • Blues Traveler – $40K – $40K
  • Cheap Trick – $45K – $70K
  • Creed – $100K
  • Jefferson Starship $15K – $25K
  • Paramore – $125K – $175K
  • Puddle of Mud – $35K – $50K
  • Slash – $45K – $65K

Here’s the cost of some additional big name bands, that I would love to see play VMworld:

  • Nickelback – $350K – $500K
  • Pearl Jam – $300K – $500K
  • Linkin Park – $400K – $500K
  • Bruce Springsteen – $1 million

To contrast this here’s the bands that have played at some other big tech conferences over the past few years, EMC seemed to scale down this year as well with the combined band total being about $300K. Oracle and Cisco had huge budgets as Aerosmith costs $1.3 million to hire:

EMC World:

  • 2010 – Counting Crows
  • 2011 – The Fray
  • 2012 – Maroon 5
  • 2013 – Bruno Mars
  • 2014 – Imagine Dragons
  • 2015 – Fall Out Boy and One Republic

HP Discover:

  • 2011 – Paul McCartney
  • 2012 – Sheryl Crow & Don Henley
  • 2013 – Santana
  • 2014 – No band
  • 2015 – Spazmatics

Oracle Open World:

  • 2010 – Black Eyes Peas & Don Henley
  • 2011 – Sting
  • 2012 – Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon
  • 2013 – Maroon 5 & The Black Keys
  • 2014 – Aerosmith with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • 2015 – TBA

Cisco Live:

  • 2010 – Smash Mouth
  • 2011 – Train
  • 2012 – Weezer
  • 2013 – Journey
  • 2014 – Lenny Kravitz and Imagine Dragons
  • 2015 – Aerosmith and Royal Machines

EMC, Cisco and Oracle go all out with some great entertainment (HP used to). Every year I hold out hope waiting for the announcement that we’ll get a great band at VMworld but after this year I’m starting to lose faith.

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  1. They had a quick discussion on the bands on the VMware community podcast this week. That’s some good digging! I appreciate the venue this year though.

    • Anthony Poh on August 24, 2015 at 6:33 am
    • Reply

    VMworld Europe isn’t any better…..

    VMworld Europe 2013 – Taio Cruz (ok, so quite a number of attendees knew his hit songs!)
    VMworld Europe 2014 – Simple Minds (If you weren’t from the UK, you probably didn’t have a clue who they were….. 1980s Scottish Rock band……)

    I dread to think who’ll be at Barcelona this year…… if it’s One Direction I’m refunding my conference tickets! ;oP

  2. Please include the dell world bands on this list…

    Billy Idol
    Camp Freddy
    Duran Duran

    • Tyler B on September 3, 2015 at 9:55 pm
    • Reply

    The VMworld party this year was great! I disagree that you need a big name band to have a good party. I was not a Neon Tree’s fan previous to last night, but they put on a great show! Alabama Shakes performance was lack luster, but the carnival and other attractions including food and drinks made up for it IMHO. AT&T park was a good venue.

    Big name band and terrible performance (Bon Jovi) is not better than smaller name band and great performance.

    I think we all can agree the breakfast and lunches left much to be desired…

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