Event Management
March 22, 2017  •  by Sean Burke

How to Book An Artist For Your Event

If you’ve run an event or managed a venue in the past, you’re likely familiar with the general booking process. But if you haven’t booked an artist for a performance before, there are a few pieces that are specific to artist bookings that you might not realize. Because of the process involved with booking an artist and the additional requirements that artists have (such as equipment) that other entertainment may not, it’s important to understand some of these differences.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the details you might not know about artist bookings; not only that, but we’ll also explore how to get the most out of your artist booking. Let’s get started!

Venue and Date

An artist’s fee can also depend on when you want them to appear at your event or venue. Artists often charge more for weekend and holiday bookings; weekday bookings are a little less costly.

If the artist isn’t on tour, that means that additional costs (travel, hotel, etc.) could go up. As an event planner, you’ll still be expected to cover the artist’s hotel and travel costs, but if the artist will already be in your area, it won’t be as expensive as it would if you’re flying them across the country.

If you’re planning an event and haven’t yet selected a venue, one thing to consider is whether or not it has the equipment in-house that the artist will need; for example, a PA system, a sound board, a stage (or extra space for a stage), and so on. If the venue doesn’t have all this equipment, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but you need to be aware that whatever the venue can’t supply, you may have to in order to fulfill the artist’s requirements. The exact equipment you’ll need depends on the artist, of course, so if you already have an artist in mind, you can reach out to their agent to ask for the artists rider while you’re searching for a venue. That way, you can match what your potential venues have in terms of equipment against what the artist requires.

Understand the Artist’s Costs

When trying to figure out how much you can spend on an artist for your event or venue, you need to keep in mind that their performance fee isn’t the only expense you’ll have to cover. On top of that, you’ll also have to cover the cost of all the requirements specified in their contract rider, the cost of their travel and hotel (and the group they’re traveling with), the cost of any equipment the artist might need that the venue doesn’t already have, the cost of transportation to and from your event or venue, and any food or drinks the artist and their group will need while they’re in town.

A lot of event planners assume that these costs are part of the artist’s appearance fee, only to get a nasty surprise when they realize they have to pay extra money that they didn’t budget for. You can put in what’s called an “all-in offer”, which means that the offer includes the price of travel. You will do this during the negotiation phase when you are locking in the artist.

Understand the Booking Process

Unless you’re dealing with an artist with little to no profile (or an artist who handles all their business arrangements personally, which is rare), you likely won’t have direct contact with the artist during the booking process. More commonly, you’ll be working with the artist’s agent- the agent typically handles all of their client’s bookings, and they’ll be able to work with you on scheduling, negotiations, and the contract process. (In some cases, you may end up dealing with the artist’s manager, but the process is still the same.)

Before reaching out to the artist’s representatives, you need to know your budget, the date of the event, and the venue where the event is taking place. Not providing this information up front can send a clear signal to the agent that you’re not serious about your offer, so it’s important to provide as much information as possible- especially if you haven’t worked with them before.

Once you’ve reached out to the agent and confirmed their client’s availability (and that your budget is in line with what their client normally charges for a performance), the next step is to prepare an offer and send it to the agent. The offer simply puts in writing everything that you’ve discussed with the agent up to that point: how much you’ll pay for the performance, when and where it will be held, who is responsible for travel and rider, and so on. It’s also important to note that the first offer you send may not be accepted- it’s just the first step in the negotiation process, as an agent works to get the best terms for them and their client.

If the booking process seems like it may be too time consuming for you to go through, you may consider hiring a talent buyer, also known as a middle agent. A middle agent will act as a go-between for you and the artist’s agent, so you don’t have to spend as much time on the back-and-forth during the booking process. Talent buyers usually charge 10% or more of the overall amount of the deal for their services, though, so they’ll be less concerned about negotiating a rate that’s fair for you and more concerned about getting the deal done- even if it’s way more expensive than you would like. So if you want to make sure you get the artist for the lowest price possible, you may want to do the legwork yourself so you can have a bigger say in the negotiation process.

Know the Negotiation Process

Knowing how to negotiate an artist’s fee can also make a huge difference in the amount of money you spend on their performance. Just because an artist quotes a particular fee doesn’t necessarily mean you should pay it, nor does it mean that they expect to receive it. Being willing to negotiate on their fee can save you a lot of up-front costs. The negotiation process is where you can also try and bundle some of the expenses together; for example, paying the artist a higher fee to perform with the understanding that they’ll be responsible for their own travel, accommodations, and transportation (you’ll still likely be responsible for providing the equipment). In any negotiation, though, you have to know when to push and when to ease off.

In the end, it’s really a matter of what you want your event to look like that will dictate the artist you book and the arrangement you make with their representatives. If it’s really important that you have a specific artist at your event or venue, then you have to know how much you can afford to spend for that particular artist (and whether the venue can handle that artist’s requirements). And by keeping some of these potential additional costs in mind, you’ll still have a good shot at putting together a great experience for the people attending – without going over your budget.

Billy Bones is the marketing director at Bookingagentinfo.com, which provides event planners with the contact info for the official agents, managers, and publicists. He also runs Celebrity Endorsers which helps businesses identify celebrities to work with based on their brand endorsements, interests, and charitable contributions.

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