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8 Questions for Any Music Booking Service

  • Robert M. Brecht, PhD.
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Are you looking for an entertainment agency to provide music booking services for your next live entertainment event?  Someone who can get you that exceptional musical performer for your special occasion at a budget you can afford. Before settling on any entertainment agency for your music booking services, do your homework and get the answers to these eight questions. High quality booking agencies will be happy to provide you the information you seek.

1. How Long Has the Entertainment Agency Been Providing Music Booking Services?

Experience matters. Entertainment agencies come and go. All things being equal, you should want to work with an agency that has been around for decades, rather than just a few years. Finding the right artists for your audience demographics and budget means knowing the business thoroughly. It also means having established long-term relationships with artists, their management and with major agencies is very important.

Handling live entertainment events is not something you pick up in a month, or even a year or two. You want an entertainment agency that has seen the best and worst situations for entertainment performances.  Good music booking agencies have seen a lot and learned much during their long histories. This experience allows them to assist you throughout the entire entertainment booking, advancing, and production journey.

A desirable quality for your booking needs is an agency that has seen nearly every environment and equipment set-up imaginable and continues to adapt to new stages and technology. That experience translates into the music booking services you expect. If you haven’t been involved on the production end, you just won’t be as good at booking talent as an agency that has.

2. What Talent Have They Booked and What Is Their Affiliation With the Artists and Major Agencies?

Tracy ByrdNo matter the size of your event or entertainment budget, you want to work with an entertainment booking agency that provides all kinds of entertainers and music genres. Whether it’s tribute bands, original recording artists, magicians, thrill shows, specialty acts, cover bands, or any other type of entertainment requirement, an agency should have a strong history of booking a variety of entertainment. Have any agency provide a list of acts they’ve booked. In the case of TSE Entertainment, you can find the list on our website.

The music booking services of such an entertainment agency should include local artists, regionally known entertainers, as well as top national and international performers. An agency that can negotiate the contract and riders of big-name entertainers, should be able to provide entertainers for any music genre of type of act you need.

However, it’s important to know that no music agency speaks for all artists and levels of talent. If you want a world-renown entertainer, you or your agency would need to deal with agencies that handle big stars, such as Creative Artists or William Morris Endeavor (WME). Such agencies are very particular about who they deal with when it comes to their artists. TSE has good relationships, developed over years, with these mega agencies to book well-renown, national performers for our client’s events.

Many agencies deal primarily 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. They focus on weddings, private parties, and other types of smaller events. They have limited experience when it comes to working with renown entertainers and the agencies that handle them

Consider using an agency that is known and respected by the agents at WME, CAA or United Artists of the world as well as their entertainers. Entertainers will more likely accept offers from people they know. Agents take offers more seriously if it’s from someone they do business with on a regular basis.

DIACERO bandWell-thought-of agencies book local and regional acts with which they have a direct relationship and do not need to go through another agency to book the artists. Being on a first-name basis with the agents or management of many local, regional and national entertainers can only help get the act you want.

3. What Is the Extent of the Services of the Entertainment Agency?

Many entertainment agencies earn their commission by simply booking performers and drafting the contracts on your behalf.  That’s the extent of their services. They get the particulars, communicate with the artist’s agency, book the artist, and deal with contract issues. Once the contract is signed, the event details are turned over to the artist’s manager or tour manager and who handle the show from there.  The entertainment booking agency’s job is done. There is so much more to booking than just finding an artist and negotiating the contract and riders. For more information on what that entails, see Booking Entertainment: Advancing the Show.

Some booking agencies will provide for other services, such as staging, lighting, sound, etc. using third party sources for the event. That’s usually the extend of the services they provide.

TSE provides what we call a PoM (Peace of Mind) person for clients. This is a producer who is versed with all aspects of putting on a show.  He or she will handle all of the logistics on site to coordinate the artists, subcontractors, and everyone else involved in the production for larger events.  Imagine not needing to run around at your own event to locate things, people, etc. It provides another level of service to provide peace of mind to event producers.

Imagine working with an agency for music booking services that can provide any other resources needed to help you with your event. Such an agency can complement your team to make sure you have what it takes to pull off the event you want. Whether it’s local production, handling all the logistics, sponsorship development, event marketing, ticketing, or just a PoM person, having that backup readily handy is a major benefit.

Great booking agencies want your event to succeed as much as you do and will provide everything necessary to make that happen, whether it’s an on-site person to running the whole event for you.

4. What Is the Variety 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, parks, pastures, outdoor venues, 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 for hotel ballrooms or for being in business only a couple of years. This understanding of venues, helps them book the right artist for your event.

5. Do Clients Use Them Over and Over Again?

An agency that has customers coming to them year after year to book 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.

Some agencies lock in a client with a multi-year contract, so look for relationships that have stood the test of time without such a lock in agreement. If the agency has a lot of clients that continue to use them for their events, year-after-year, that say a lot about what the client thinks of their services.

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.

6. What Are Their Client Ratings on Google and Trust Pilot?

tse entertainment reviewsNowadays, client online ratings are another meaningful way to learn about how well an agency performs. Through sites like Google and Trust Pilot, you see the ratings and reviews left by past clients. These are typically one-to-five-star ratings with an average shown as well, along with the individual reviews.

The reviews should be verified that they are from actual clients. Be suspicious if there are thousands of reviews because bots could be at work for them, or someone is paying for reviews. At TSE we post the reviews on our testimonial page, but you can find them when you Google us as well. We take pride in the fact that TSE Entertainment has a five average in a five-star rating system. Yes, that means that every review given to us is 5 stars. How’s that for a recommendation?

7. Does the Music Booking Service Make It Easy for You to Book and Pay?

Do they have a variety of payment options for you?  Do they accept bank transfers, credit cards, 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? These are all great questions to ask in advance because you want an entertainment booking agency that is going to make your life and the booking process easier.

Do they do a great job of advancing the show by keeping you and the acts informed as to itinerary and event details as well as conversations about the event? Check some references to verify their responsiveness and how they communicate. You want to use an agency that makes your life easy when it comes to booking and payment functions. There are so many details to putting on a performance, so make sure they communicate often and clearly.

8. Can They Save You Time and Money?

Some entertainment booking agencies have no more clout with bigger agencies than you would have yourself. You want to avoid such booking agencies.  A major help to you in the booking process is that a good booking agency has a reputation and relationship with other agencies handling the acts you want.

entertainment agencyIf you end up with an entertainment agency that doesn’t have the relationships and reputation in the industry, you will find that the performance fee quotations you get are often more than the quotes for the same entertainers and services provided through a well-thought-of agency. Using an agency with a good reputation with bigger agencies can save you as much as 20 percent of the costs of booking and putting on a successful show. Such relationships are also key in negotiating any other issues that arise, e.g., postponements, cancellations, etc.

There’s a lot of work to putting on a concert or artist performance. Trying to do it yourself or using a music booking service that is only interested in “booking” put the onus on your team. In means committing huge amounts of your time as well as your staff’s time. That’s money out of your pocket you don’t need to spend. It also means spending lots of time working on the event that neither you nor your team probably have.

It’s easy to see the advantage of hiring a good respectable and dependable entertainment agency to help you plan and book the performers that will make your event a success.

Getting the right answers to these questions can help assure you that your event is in good hands. It gives you the peace of mind knowing that you have selected the right agency for whatever kind of event you’ve planned. Remember that doing your homework upfront can save you a lot of time, energy, headaches, and money.

Good luck with your next event and remember that TSE Entertainment is always here for all your entertainment needs. Booking is just one critical part of what we do.

About the Author

Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Doctor Bob has been in the marketing and production side of television and music for over three decades. He, Mike and Glenda form a formidable team in helping artists and venues put on the best events possible.

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