Tip #1 Organize Your Information
Before going out and calling up entertainers, be sure you’ve got all the information about your event so that you can convey exactly what you need and want. This will allow the entertainer to give you an accurate quote and make suggestions that will fit your event specifically. The most critical piece of information you’ll need is the date of the event. If the entertainer isn’t available when you need them, you can quickly move on to the next option.
The most common mistake when trying to hire entertainment is sending a short email asking for pricing and availability. The entertainer can’t give you a price if they don’t know what exactly you want. It’s like walking into Target and asking how much it would cost to buy something. Well, that depends on what you want. The more detail you can provide, the more accurate the performer’s response will be, streamlining the process for everyone.
After finding out if the artist is available, take a few minutes to tell them all about your event.What is the goal of the event? How many people are coming? What is the age group of the attendees? Where is the event being held? How long and how often would you like the performance for? Chances are that they have done plenty of events like the one you are planning so they know what to do and can even make suggestions to make it even better.
If, by chance, you are asking for a kind of entertainment that they don’t provide or they are unavailable, don’t be afraid to ask them to make suggestions for other entertainers that would work well with your event.
Tip #2 How To Tell If The Performer Is Any Good
Any good performer will have their own contract, technical rider, performers insurance, and glowing references from other clients that have hired them. Check out their website and look at any videos they have posted.
You can learn a lot about a performer by looking at the promotional materials. This is how they choose to present themselves to the world; this is who they are and what they do. Let these tools be helpful to you.
Tip #3 Discussing Pricing
There are two ways to go about pricing: 1) tell them your budget and they will offer the amount of entertainment that will fit that budget, or 2) ask them what they’ll charge for the kinds of entertainment you’d like. Don’t worry if their price doesn’t match the budget, they should have different options at different price points. For example, they can do a shorter show or take out parts of the show that may be harder to transport in order to lower the price. If it’s simply not a good fit, they should be able to make a recommendation for someone who may be able to meet your needs and/or wants.
You can also offer other things other than money to get a lower price- no, this does not mean publicity. Entertainers have gotten way too many emails from clients that offer “good publicity” in lieu of payment. However, professional pictures, video, or other services at the event such as the ability to sell merchandise, could be a great way to negotiate a lower price.
Some clients will set up gigs in the area with other organizations in order to share the cost of bringing in a performer. Others forbid the artist from doing additional shows around the area during the time they have hired them. If you have a preference one way or the other, state this up front. If you discourage other work in the area, make sure you are paying enough that the event by itself is worth it.
Be sure to ask about travel expenses. This can include the price of a hotel room, rental car, airfare or gas, shipping costs and anything else associated with getting themselves, their assistants, and their equipment to your venue. This expense is often in addition to the price of the performance. Some performers include travel in their quote, including myself. Again, ask up front. This can make a huge difference in whether or not you are compatible for one another.
If your event is run by a committee, designate one person to be in contact with the performers, and if possible, empower that person to make decisions about price ranges and hiring. It is confusing to deal with several different people from an event, or to have one person who really wants your act contact you before being authorized to do so by the group.
Tip #4 Hiring the Performer
You’ve found the entertainment you want and are ready to make it official! Often performers will ask for a deposit to be returned with the contract to hold the date for you. Return these items quickly because typically a performer’s availability is first come, first serve. If two clients are asking about the same date, whoever is the first to return the contract and deposit, will get the date. The rest of the fee is often due at the day of the event, though it is possible to pay ahead of time or make other arrangements. Normally the performer is paid by check, though some performers have the ability to take credit cards, and of course everyone accepts cash.
The performer can also help you promote your event. Ask them for pictures and video that can be used in advertising and promotion. Most performers have social networking and can let their followers know the when and where of your event if it is open to the public.
Tip #5 Carefully Look Over the Contract and Technical Rider
Be sure to take a careful look over the contract and technical rider the performer provides. The contract is going to outline everything that you’ve agreed upon, including who provides what, when, and how. Make sure that everything you need from the performer is written in the contract.
The technical rider, is a list of things that the performer needs in order to put on the best show possible and do it safely. If you need any changes, or if you have any questions about the contract or the technical rider, communicate this clearly to the performer. They love to hear that you’ve taken a close look at the details and are there to help you with anything you need.
Make sure you share the Technical Rider with the people or person in charge of the stage, sound, and lighting, and be sure that they have everything that is needed. Every performer is going to need things like easy access to a bathroom and a place to change so be prepared for this ahead of time.
Tip #6 Think About the Setup and Schedule
Take a look at the space and put yourself there in the moment. Ask the performer for tips on setup; they are there to help you make your event the best it can be. Round tables are great for keeping conversation going at the table, but make it difficult for everyone to see the stage during the entertainment portion.
Make sure that food is not served during the performance. In the battle for attention, food will always win. Entertainment is great after dinner, but be sure that the servers are not clearing plates while the performer is on. If at all avoidable, don’t put a big space or a dance floor in front of the stage, it will feel like there’s an ocean between the audience and the performer. Make sure everyone has a comfortable place to sit without the sun in their eyes. If there are more seats than people, take the farthest seats away or block them off so people sit closer together and closer to the performance.
Don’t schedule the entertainment after a break. The energy needs to go up when the entertainment takes the stage. Know who is going to introduce the performer. It should be someone who can vocalize enthusiasm and excite the crowd to get that energy level going up. Ask the performer for a written introduction to make this smooth for everyone involved.