Are you looking for a musical artist for your special occasion? Before settling on the entertainment booking agency for your event, do your homework and ask these seven questions. Good agencies will be happy to provide you the information you seek.
- How long have they been in business?
Experience matters. Booking agencies come and go. You should want a booking agency that has been established for decades, rather than years. Booking and handling live events is not something you can pick up in a month, or even a year or two. You want an entertainment booking agency that has seen the best and worst conditions. An agency that has seen nearly every environment and equipment set-up imaginable and that continues to adapt to new stages and technology.
- What is the level of talent they book and what is their relationship to the artists on their website?
You should want to use an agency that books the full range of entertainers. They should be able to provide local entertainers, regionally known entertainers as well as top national and international performers. No agency represents all levels of talent. If you want a world renown entertainer, you or your agency would need to deal with agencies that only handle big stars, such as Creative Artists or William Morris Endeavor.
Many agencies just deal in local talent in the city in which they are located. Often agencies feature acts on their website that they need to book through another agency. They have no direct relationship with any of the acts they feature.
Use an agency that is known and respected by the Creative Artists of the world as well as the acts they feature. Well-thought-of agencies only feature acts with which they have a direct booking relationship and do not need to go through another agency to book the artists on their site. They should be on a first name basis with all the acts they feature on their website.
- What is the extent of the services they provide?
Believe it or not, many agencies earn their commission by simply booking an event. They get the details and call the artist’s agency and book it with them. The event information is turned over to the artist’s manager or tour manager and that’s the extent of what they do. Of course, they also do issue contracts under their name and bill the buyer and pay the artist’s agency.
Many agencies will arrange for other services, such as staging, lighting, sound, etc. through third parties for the event. Some offer a producer to handle a turn-key event for an additional charge.
In addition to an agency that provides booking services to turn key events, ask them if they provide a logistics person on site to coordinate the artists, and those third-party services so you aren’t running around at your own event to locate things, people, etc. Good booking agencies are interested in long-term relationships and will provide a person on-site as part of their booking fee.
- What is the range of events they’ve booked in the past?
Why this question? It’s because many agencies only book acts in hotel ballrooms or similar types of venues. You want an agency that books into barns, outdoor events, clubs, arenas and every other kind of venue. Why? Because they’ve seen it all. They know what to expect and can anticipate problems and deal with them before they arise. Their experience is not something you can get by sitting in an office building booking wedding bands or being in business a couple of years.
- Do they have repeat clients?
An agency that has customers coming to them year after year for artists for their events must be doing something right. That means two things: 1) the agency is getting the right talent and making sure the performance goes smoothly; and 2) the agency is responsive to the interests of the clients and cultivates long-term relationships. These are highly desired qualities, even if your booking need is for a one-time event.
Will those clients act as a reference for the agency? Really satisfied clients don’t mind giving testimonials to agencies that make them and their bosses happy.
- Do they make it easy for you to book and pay?
Do they have a variety of payment options for you? They should accept bank transfers, credit card, PayPal, Stripe and the old-fashioned paper check way of paying deposits and invoices? Are the booking documents, e.g., offer cards, contracts, hospitality riders, technical riders offered electronically? Can you sign them electronically without having to print documents, sign them and either scan them or send them via mail?
Do they use other online applications to keep you and the acts informed as to itinerary and event details as well as conversations about the event? You want to use an agency that makes your life easy when it comes to booking and payment functions.
- Can they save you time and money?
Some agencies have no more clout with bigger agencies than you would have yourself. That’s right, you could try to book entertainers yourself for your event. You could hunt down their booking agent and try to negotiate an artist fee for your event. The difference with a good entertainment booking agency is their reputation and clout with other agencies handling the acts you want.
You will end up finding that either the agency you need doesn’t want to deal with you or you would find that the quotes you get would be equal to or more than the quotes for the same entertainers and services provided by a well-thought-of agency. Using an agency with a good reputation and relationships with bigger agencies can save you as much as 20 percent of the costs of booking and putting on a successful show yourself or using an agency that lacks such a reputation and clout with vendors.
There’s a lot of work to putting on a concert or artist performance. Trying to do it yourself or using entertainment booking agencies that are only interested in the “booking” means you are committing huge amounts of your and your staff’s time. That’s money out of your pocket and time you probably don’t have with your current schedules. Think about it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the advantage of hiring a good respectable and dependable entertainment booking agency to help you plan and book the performers that makes your show a success.
If you get the right answers to these questions, you can rest assured that your event is in good hands. It gives you the peace of mind knowing that you have selected the right entertainment booking agency for whatever kind of event you’ve planned. Remember that doing your homework up front can save you a lot of time, money and worry for your affair.
Good luck with your next event. Break a leg!
Bob Brecht, PhD.