Booking artists for your events can be a daunting task. It’s even more daunting if you’re not familiar with the process or don’t know all the little details that go into booking artists. When you’re not sure of the process or overlook the details, artist bookings can become a major headache in a heartbeat.
Today, we’re going to look at the process and the details of booking artists for events: what costs are associated, securing appropriate accommodations for the artist, what the artist might need for their performance, and how to navigate the booking process.
When you think of what it costs to book an artist like Katy Perry, you probably think of the artist’s performance fee. While that fee is part of the overall equation, there are a lot more costs involved that you might not be aware of. And if you don’t keep an eye on the extra costs, you could find yourself over-budget and scrambling to come up with additional funds.
Typically, an artist’s performance fee only covers the cost of their performance. Everything else — flights, hotels, travel to and from the venue, meals, and so forth — are separate expenses, and you’re expected to cover them. On top of that, artists typically don’t travel alone, so the costs mentioned above don’t just apply to the artist — they also apply to whoever is traveling with them.
The performance fee is also separate from everything involved in making sure the artist has what they need for the performance itself. These costs are typically covered on a rider (more on that in a minute); you may occasionally be able to package the rider costs together with the performance fee, but most established artists and their agents prefer to keep the two agreements separate.
When you think of “accommodations,” your mind probably goes to things like airfare and hotels. And while those are part of it, “accommodations” refers to anything the artist will need to ensure a good performance at your event. So on top of everything non-performance-related, you also need to consider the performance itself.
An artist’s rider typically includes all the things they’ll need for their performance, like stage setup, lighting, sound, and so on. There’s a reason for this: no artist worth their salt wants to perform with a setup that’s completely unlike anything they’re used to. And as the person running the event, the last thing you want is an underwhelming performance from the artist because they’re not comfortable with the setup or the equipment being used.
How much you’ll have to pay to fulfill all the requirements specified in the rider really depends on the artist and how complex their performance is; if the artist just needs a microphone, a speaker, and their guitar, you probably won’t have to shell out too much.
But if the artist’s performance includes a light show or requires a lot of equipment, the costs will rise. The items in the rider are typically non-negotiable, so don’t expect any wiggle room from the artist or their agent.
To save money on travel, you can try scheduling your event at a time when the artist will be touring in the general region of your event. It’s a good way to cut down on flight costs, and if you have to stick to a budget, every penny counts.
It’s also a good idea to select a venue that has as much equipment in-house as possible for an artist’s performance. You’ll save a lot of money by utilizing the venue’s house equipment and minimizing the amount of stuff you have to rent.
The Booking Process
For most bookings, you’ll be working with the artist’s agent. The agent typically handles all of their client’s bookings, and they’ll be your main point of contact for scheduling, negotiations, and the contract process. (In some cases, you may work with the artist’s manager, but the process is still the same.)
Before reaching out to the artist’s representative, you need to know your budget, the date of the event, and the venue where the event is taking place. Not providing this information up front can give the impression that you’re not serious about your offer, so it’s important to provide as much information as possible — especially if you haven’t worked with them before.
There are quite a few things to know before you contact celebrity agents, but the two most important ones are simple. First, be concise with your request: give the agent as much information as is necessary, but don’t overload them with details. Agents are busy, and if your email takes too long to read, there’s a good chance they’ll skip right over it. Second, know how (and when) to follow up.
If you don’t hear back from an agent right away, give it 3-5 business days before following up. You want to make sure the agent has enough time to read and digest your request without leaving too much time between follow-ups for them to forget about it.
Once you’ve reached out to the agent and confirmed their client’s availability, the next step is to prepare an offer and send it to the agent. The offer simply puts in writing everything that you’ve discussed with the agent up to that point: how much you’ll pay for the performance, when and where it will be held, who is responsible for equipment, and so on.
It’s also important to note that the first offer you send is likely not going to be accepted — it’s just the first step in the negotiation process, so be prepared for the agent to send back what’s called a “redlined” version of your offer, where they tweak the terms to be more favorable to their client.
This process can continue for quite a while, so it’s important that you get the offer out as early as possible to ensure that contract issues don’t throw a wrench in your plans for your event.
Billy Bones is the founder of Booking Agent Info, which provides event planners and talent buyers with the contact information for the official agents, managers, and publicists of celebrities and artists. He also runs Celebrity Endorsers, an endorsement database which tracks celebrity endorsements, interests, and their charitable contributions.