booking entertainers

Entertainment Booking: One Show but 3 Different Customers

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An entertainment booking agency must satisfy three different customers when choosing the performers for an event. While it may be the venue or promoter that employs them to find the appropriate act for their event, booking agencies must also meet the needs and expectations of the performers they book as well as the audience that views the performance.

If you want to keep booking a venue or a particular artist, you need to understand the roles and goals of each of these customers. While the act may be ecstatic with their performance, the venue or promoter may be crossing them off their list for future engagements. As the entertainment booking agency, you may also be on the chopping block.

Different Perspectives:
Each of these customers has their own perspective and goals for the event. Understanding the points of view of each other increases the likelihood that the event goes off smoothly and successfully for all parties.

Artists want to express their music in their own way. The audience wants to be entertained and the venue wants to sell tickets concessions and get repeat customers. As an entertainment booking agency, our job is to make sure the act has a good time performing while the venue and audiences come away happy with the result.

Let’s look at the expectations of each of these three customers. It’s up to the entertainment booking agency to manage expectations and see they are met by all  three customers.

Venue / Promoter:
Venues or promoters want acts that will draw an audience to the venue. They want the audience to go home happy with their experience. They want the event to run smoothly and go off according to clockwork. They want repeat business. Let’s look at what they want.

  • Meet Venue Needs: Let’s say it primarily books country and western dance music with some rock and roll mixed in. What they are looking for is an artists or band that can fulfill this objective. They also want them to be entertaining, very good at their trade and help bring customers thru the door.
  • Act Professionally: They will first want groups that know how to show up on time and be professional and orderly in their setup. Setup includes unloading their equipment that, in this case, will probably include drums, amps, guitars, bass guitar and maybe keyboards, steel guitar and fiddle. Do their ‘’sound check’’ in the allotted time slot and be ready to start their show when designated.
  • Start on Time: They will want the show to start at a specific time and have ‘’breaks’’ at specific times. Specific times means exactly that. Venues watch the clock like eagles. Following the schedule is a way to either get invited back or NOT! This is so critical and the artist MUST commit to this basic requirement. That’s a MUST!
  • Engage the Audience: During breaks they will probably want the band to interact with the crowd and not just sit in a corner visiting with their wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends or such. This is very important to the venue. It helps both the venue and band. The audience has a better time and the venue builds a rapport with their paying customers. The band develops new fans and they will have a bigger following while increasing the likelihood that they return.
  • Promote the Show: They will expect the artist to help in the marketing the show. This will include letting their fans know of this event thru emails, phone calls, their website, and social media. It’s very important to make sure the event is marketed on a schedule, months, weeks and days before the event. Venues will also expect the group’s booking agency to aggressively participate in this as well. TSE Entertainment works with venues and the acts TSE books to market the engagement.

Let’s look at this musical event thru the eyes of the Audience. People work very hard in this world to make a living. When they spend their hard-earned money to see a show or to go out dancing they want to be rewarded with good entertainment. They don’t care if the band drove 300 miles to get to the show; if someone in the group is tired or sick; or other problems faced daily by these acts.

  • Wow Me: They want to be entertained and have fun. They want to be wowed.
  • It’s About Me: If they’re there to dance, they don’t want someone on stage constantly talking. They want good dance music.
  • Give Me What I Came For: If they came to listen to country music, then they will not want to listen to rap or hard rock or other genres not expected for this show.

As a former touring musician and artist, I can relate to the artist point of view. Most groups “live” for the moment to get on stage and show the world their talent. I had my own experience with audience expectations.

I had a song out in Texas Radio in the early 90’s that had really good airplay. We were playing a club called the Dallas Club in Rockport, Texas that was primarily a dance hall. We were half way thru a song I wrote; “Uno Mas Amigo” when some young lady looked up at me and shouted “Hey! Play something we know”. That was a prime example of what not to do. I was hired to play “something they knew” and that’s what we did for the rest of the show.

  • Let me engage with actLet Me Engage with Act: Audiences want to interact with the entertainers, either at the stage, during breaks or with a “meet-and-greet” after the show.
  • Give Me a Good Venue: They also expect the venue to do its part as well. They expect a clean facility, a friendly and responsive staff, a good dance floor and seating arrangements, adequate parking and other basic things like this. They are there to have A GOOD TIME and don’t want to worry about anything else.

The more successful artists will have either a manager or tour manager to negotiate  with the entertainment booking agency and handle their needs beforehand and onsite during the performance. Most local and up-and-coming artists do these things themselves or select one member of the band to do it for the group. Performing artists have the following expectations:

  • Artists want to get on stage, show off their talent and have fun while doing it.
  • They may also want to test audience reaction to some of their original music.
  • They want to show up with just enough time to unload, do sound checks and get ready to perform.
  • Artist want the staging and lighting and sound system to be first rate for the venue.
  • They want the stage to be set per their stage plot and the backline in place (if required).
  • They want all the logistics handled correctly and on time for their performance. At TSE, we typically provide a logistics coordinator to give the band and venue peace of mind that these issues are being handled correctly.
  • Artists want all the things called for in their Contract Rider in place when they arrive.
  • They want a quiet place with limited access to get ready for their performance.
  • They want the ability to engage close-up with their fans, while still having adequate security.
  • They want the ability to promote and sell merchandise and their CD’s
  • For some bands this may be the first time they have seen each other since the last gig they worked. They may want to spend time before the show and during breaks to catch up on things.
  • They want to get paid quickly.

While there is certainly a large overlap of goals between these three perspectives, there is also a divergence of expectations as well. At TSE, we see our job as managing each of these three distinct customer’s expectations. Our goal is making sure they are met by selecting the right entertainers, providing an on-site logistical person, getting to know both the entertainers and the venues and promoters we work with. Developing long term relationships with artists and venues takes the guess work out of meeting their goals.

Whether you are a promoter, venue buyer, entertainer, or a member of the audience, just remember that a successful event strives to meet the expectations of all three of these entertainment booking agency customers.

Mike Black


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4 Reasons Why You Need a Booking Agent for Your Event

About the author

Picture of Robert Brecht

Robert Brecht

Doctor Bob brings a diverse background in production, marketing, and business management to his position as Managing Partner of TSE Entertainment. His responsibilities include overseeing TSE’s services other than talent booking. He also manages the marketing and business operations side of TSE.
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