How do I book a major recording artist for my event?

Booking a major recording artist on your own can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with the process or don’t really know all the little details that need to be considered. No need to panic, though! We are here to help you navigate the process and understand the details that go into booking artists so that you don’t end up booking the wrong artist or spending too much. Let’s get started!

Create a list

The first thing you’ll need to have is a wishlist of the artist or genre of music you would like to perform at your event. Keep in mind that your first choice may not be available for the day of your event, so it’s always better to have two or three names as backups.

Know your artist (and your audience!)

Before you even think about booking a musical act, you need to know more about them than their fees or last hit. Will they only play in certain venues or on a certain stage? Do they have companies they cannot work for, due to endorsements? Are they in the middle of a world tour?

You’ll also need to consider your guest list. While some of your audience may welcome new sounds and songs, others may prefer some level of familiarity. For example, a younger audience might enjoy Britney Spears, but booking her for a group of middle-aged investment bankers might not be a smart idea. It’s crucial that you get a sound understanding of the event’s demographics, including attendee age range, gender, and even culture so you can shortlist artists that are relevant to your target audience.

Consider the artist’s costs

It’s important to have a clear, concrete understanding of how much you’ll be spending on an artist booking, or else, you’ll be scrambling to rework your budgets because you didn’t plan for the additional expenses. Note that an artist’s performance fee often makes up only a part (usually half or less) of the total costs. There are other costs involved that you might need to factor into your budget, such as production requirements, (also known as a production rider)backline (instruments and specific required equipment, flights, hotels, travel to and from the venue, hospitality rider, and so forth.

On top of that, artists hardly ever travel alone, so the costs mentioned above don’t just apply to the artist — they also apply to the group they are traveling with. All of these costs are detailed in the artist’s contract rider. The items in the rider are typically non-negotiable, so don’t expect any wiggle room from the artist or their agent.

Understand the booking process

In a perfect world, you’d be able to reach out to artists directly and handle all the communications through them. Unfortunately, throughout the booking process, you’ll be dealing with the artist’s representative (agent or manager) instead. He/she will handle your booking and work with you on scheduling, negotiations, and the contract process.

Before you reach out to the talent manager, though, you’ll need to know your budget and the exact dates and the general time of day you’d like the artist to perform (afternoon or late evening) as well as the length of the performance. Not only will this help you present yourself as professionally as possible, but also confirm the artist’s availability and whether or not your budget is in line with what the artist normally charges for a performance.

The Offer

The next step is to prepare an offer that will cover everything that you’ve discussed with the artist’s representative up to that point. However, it’s likely that your first offer may not even be accepted – and only act as the first step in the negotiation process. Speaking of negotiation…Just because an artist’s agent quotes a fee doesn’t mean it’s the final asking price. By knowing which of the artist’s requests are non-negotiable and which have some wiggle room, you can save a lot of up-front costs. You can also bundle some of the expenses together as part of the artist’s appearance fee; for example, you can offer to pay a higher performance fee with the agreement that the artist will be responsible for their own personal expenses (travel, accommodations, transportation, meals, etc.)

Hire a talent booker

As you can see, there’s more to booking an artist or a band for your event than shelling out top dollars on their performance fees. You are also expected to: secure a date on the act’s schedule; draw up the contract; arrange for sound and lighting equipment, staging, hotel rooms, transportation, and the crew; and coordinate things like rehearsals, soundboards, and rider provisions. If all of this seems like it may be too time-consuming or complicated for you to go through, why not have a professional talent booker do all the legwork for you?

As a professional talent booking company, TOAST can act as an intermediary for you and the artist’s representative, so you don’t have to spend your time and effort on the back-and-forth during the booking and negotiation processes. With nearly two decades of experience specializing in booking artists for events (whether that be a business meeting, red carpet premiere, or a trade show exhibit), we have built up strong relationships within the music, fashion, entertainment, and professional sports industries that can help make the process of talent management go a lot more smoothly.

Whether you want someone like Bon Jovi or PitBull to play at your private event or perhaps you are looking inspirational keynote speakers like Magic Johnson or Marcus Lemonis our director of all things talent, Kimberly Krouse can help you navigate the booking process, guaranteeing a jaw-dropping, exhilarating event.

The last word

With the above-mentioned tips, we are confident that you’ll be able to get down to the booking process with a good understanding of what to expect. What’s more, if you can successfully follow these guidelines, the rest of the challenges of orchestrating your event will be a lot less demanding.

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