The booking entertainment process is more than hiring a band. Of course, booking a band and getting a contract with them for your event is particularly important. As the performance approaches, another critical part of the entertainment booking process kicks in. It’s called “Advancing the Show.”
“Advancing the Show” is Critical Part of the Booking Entertainment Process
What does it mean to advance a live show? Simple. When booking live music, advancing a show is confirming all the details of the show; – wait for it – in advance. However, as simple as it sounds this aspect of the entertainment booking process is critical for a successful performance.
Tying down and verifying critical details is particularly important. Yet it is not uncommon for inexperienced booking agents and event planners to forget to verify something that could impact the show. Even worse, an important element gets overlooked all-together. In any live music event, whether you are booking a live performance for a fair or festival; large theater; club or smaller venue; private party; or corporate event; advancing the show is a significant task.
Talk to any artist, talent buyer, venue owner, or booking agent, and almost all performance related horror stories they can recall will have something to do with ill-planning and missed communication during the advancing phase. Not advancing your show properly, or at all, leads to situations such as:
- the band showing up to a venue only to find they don’t have the required backline to perform.
- a week prior to the show realizing that neither party has been promoting the show so there’s hardly any ticket sales,
- the band assuming their accommodations are covered, but they haven’t been arranged, and so on, and so on.
You get the picture. The negative possibilities are endless.
So how can you avoid such disastrous scenarios? Read on. I will go over everything that you need to address to properly advance your next live show. If you follow these suggestions, everything is covered and you have a much higher chance for a successful, stress-free event.
Points of Contact
One of the most important pieces of information are the contacts. Who contacts who when they have questions or concerns? It is important for:
- Advance contacts phone and email
- Venue/event day of show contact and cell phone number
- Sound engineer cell phone and email
- Artist day of show contact and cell phone number
Even if you do miss some things while advancing your show, having immediate contact information to address issues is critical to addressing them. Having the band’s road manager, venue contact, and key contractors all apprised of the others contact information makes it easier to address last minute questions or concerns if they arise. That results in a lot less stress for all involved.
The last thing you want, if you are unable to attend the event yourself, is to have everyone calling and texting you frantically trying to figure things out.
Run of Show Schedule
In the live music industry, timing is crucial. You want to make sure that the band knows exactly when they need to be where and for how long. Providing a Run of Show Schedule to performers gets them on the same page. It’s even more critical when there are several acts to perform on the same stage. Important times to include when advancing your show are:
- Load in time
- Sound check time
- Length of sound check
- Performance schedule
- Load out
It is also important to cover set times when advancing your show. How long is the performer expected to perform, how many sets, and at what time? This may seem like double work since this information is covered in the booking contract, but the more details you cover in the advancing stage, the better. Providing a run of show time schedule is part of this process.
Depending on the venue, some of the backline may already be available. For example, some venues can provide drums, but maybe they do not provide the snare or symbols. For this reason, it is important to be clear in your communication regarding equipment needs and arrangements.
An important attachment to go along with advancing your show is the band or performers stage plot and technical rider.
A stage plot is a graphic illustration of exactly what gear is needed and where it is to be placed on stage. It lists everything that is needed to set up for the performance, so the sound engineer is aware and prepared. It includes a list of the band’s instruments and what sound equipment, if any, is needed. It also shows how many mics, cables, and monitors the venue or sound company will need to provide.
The main goal here is to make sure that between what the venue can provide, and what the artist can provide, the band or performer will have everything they need to perform.
Tickets and Promotion
TSE Entertainment’s agents discuss promotion strategies and responsibilities directly after booking to ensure that everyone is on the same page well in advance. However, marketing materials acquisition and approvals from artists are part of advancing the show.
The booking agent will want to gather all necessary image files, graphic files, band bio, video links, and any other marketing materials from the artist’s representative. Often the artists are asked to make a video inviting fans to come out as well as using their website and social media pages to help promote the show. The artist’s press materials are essential for the promoter to use as part of marketing the event.
Artists require final approval over marketing materials used for their events. Such approval is part of advancing the show. You also want to be clear on who is responsible for what.
These are shows where the artist receives a portion of ticket sales. As you can imagine, the artists involved are going to want to know precisely how the event will be promoted and who is responsible for what activities.
Along with promotional materials and responsibilities you will also want to cover ticketing information, as this should be discussed in all promotions.
Load-in and Parking
Apart from knowing what time they need to load in, the band also needs to be clear on where they go for unloading. It may not be a huge deal if they are the first to arrive before the event starts but imagine a whole trail of band members loading in through the front door during an event that is already started. For this reason and many others, it is important they know in advance where to park and unload.
Is there free, provided parking once they are all loaded in? This issue can be especially difficult if you are dealing with a venue/event that is located downtown in a major city with limited parking.
To make sure you cover all the bases regarding load-in location and parking, you should include the following when advancing your show:
- Venue address
- Load in direction
- Parking location
- Parking instructions
It’s important the band understand how they are going to be paid for their performance. There are several ways performance payments are handled depending on the venue or event.
The last thing you want is an irritated band member hassling venue staff or organizers for payment when other arrangements are in place for their payment.
Payment arrangements are part of the performance contract. It’s always a good idea to verify expectations for payment as part of advancing the show as well. This is also true for hospitality rider expenses.
Because of their complexity, it’s particularly important for back end deals to clearly spell out the mechanism for calculating final payments and when those funds will be delivered to the artists or their agent.
For this reason, you want the communication concerning payment and hospitality rider issues to be crystal clear between both artists and the venue/event organizer. To do so, it is best to include:
- Compensation amount and how determined
- Time of compensation
- Hospitality catering arrangements
- Number of people traveling with the band
- Hospitality accommodation arrangements (if applicable)
Some additional information you might include when advancing your live show is:
Merch – Will the band be able to sell merch at the show? If so, where can they expect to set up their merch booth? Is there a merchandise sales split with the venue.
Guestlist – Oftentimes if the show is at a venue, the band can have a complimentary guestlist. It’s up to the venue to decide how many people they will accommodate on the list. In this situation, you will want it to be clear to the band how many people they can get in the show for free under their guestlist.
Venue Set Up: The venue and band should agree on any issues regarding accommodating fans for the show. This communication should also be part of booking entertainment advancing process. Part of this discussion will relate to accommodations for VIP fans, if any.
I hope that I’ve convinced you how important the Advancing the Show part of the entertainment booking process is to a successful performance. It’s all of the details addressed with advancing the show that makes everyone comfortable that the show will go off without a hitch.