The Tenors performing live entertainment

How Do Meeting Planners and Event Managers Work with Entertainment Agencies to Broker Talent?

Entertainment agencies can be extremely helpful for those looking to hire talent for an event, and this guide offers advice on just that.

Meeting Planners, Destination Management Companies and Corporate Event Planners work with entertainment agencies to secure recognizable talent for their private events. This guide, How to Work with an Entertainment Agency, will help educate meeting professionals on what they need to know.

How to work with an entertainment agency

As Covid restrictions are being lifted, live events are gearing up and everyone is ready to get the celebrations started! Now, more than ever, meeting and event planners are turning to entertainment brokers to bring their client’s dreams to life.

Have you ever wondered how companies bring the biggest names in music and entertainment to their corporate events and parties? Hiring an entertainment broker is how it happens. Entertainment brokers understand what it takes to bring the concert experience to your private affair.

Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pit Bull, Elton John, Maroon 5 and Pink are some of the greatest names in entertainment. They have dazzled private audiences around the world, for both private and corporate events.

Whatever the occasion may be, the biggest names in entertainment are only a phone call away.

What is an entertainment agency?

An entertainment agency connects your organization or group with the most famous musicians for your private events. An entertainment agency is your connection to legendary bands and performers. 

A good entertainment broker will connect you.  

A great entertainment broker will help you navigate the process, avoid pitfalls, and make sure you have the experience of a lifetime. 

Think of your entertainment broker a bit like your real estate broker. If you were looking for a house, your broker would need to know the location you want to live in, how many bedrooms & bathrooms you need, the style of house you like and, most important, your budget. Once you begin working together, you start narrowing down your search. Then, if you’re lucky enough, you find the one! Next, your real estate agent is going to explain all the associated costs that come with purchasing a new house (settlement costs, transfer taxes, mortgage, etc). You’ve now been educated on the entire process and you can make an informed decision with regard to your home purchase. 

Similarly, your entertainment broker will do the same for your entertainment needs. Just like purchasing a house, hiring big name bands and entertainment have a lot of associated costs. Those costs often include sound, lighting, stage, setup, venue, location, travel and more. Remember, you’re producing your own private concert. As a result, this is no small task and you need to be aware of all associated costs. 

Your entertainment broker helps you identify your needs, they will work within your budget, suggest talent, and go over all the details of the agreement. In addition, they will also explain how a firm offer letter works and will make sure your transaction is seamless. 

What do you need to know when you call an entertainment agent?

An entertainment agent needs to know about your audience, location of event, “experience” you want to create and your budget.

Audience

First things first: tell us about your audience. 

Are you a tech start up in Silicon Valley with 200 employees between the ages of 25 and 35? Are you a 2,000 person company based in the Midwest, which was founded over 50 years ago, with a median age of 40? OR are you a company with 30,000 employees, doing over 5 billion a year in revenue, and have employees ranging in age from 20 to 70?  

Why do you need to answer this question first? Because the best entertainment brokers are in the business of matching the perfect musical act with your audience. You wouldn’t want to live in a house you hate, so why hire talent who your audience doesn’t like?

The ultimate goal is to create a memorable, fun event that has everyone dancing to the music they recognize and love.

Location

You are planning an event and your live, private concert is going to be the pinnacle of the party! Remember, what is setting this event apart is that you’re not just hiring a band, you’re creating a personalized concert. The first thing: location. 

The first thing you need to provide is the location for the performance to take place. Is it in a ballroom? Are you creating a stage outside? Does the venue have locations which meet the size requirements for the performers stage? Will permits be necessary? Is there enough electricity or will we bring generators to the site? These are all questions your entertainment broker will help you navigate.

Some locations are going to have a stage ready to work with. In other cases, you’re going to be building one from the ground up. Don’t be alarmed; this is just part of the process. Furthermore, your entertainment broker is going to make sure you have a team of professionals who are all working together on your behalf. Producers do this for a living and they do it well.

Above all, the most important element you need to provide for this is the allowance of time. Creating a stage can take up to two or more days for setup. Please make sure your location of choice will allow for this allotment of time because it’s one of the few areas with little wiggle room. From the very start, it’s important to make sure the venue you’ve chosen for this event can manage these expectations. 

Experience

It’s not just about the music, it’s also about the experience. 

Creating unique and memorable experiences are what the most skilled meeting and event planners do best. Experienced event professionals know that the way to do this is by creating their own team. Hiring an entertainment broker is their first phone call when live entertainment is what they need for their event.

Your entertainment broker should be focused on your experience from beginning to end. From your initial phone call, you want a broker who cares about your event, your client and your budget. That is to say, beware of someone just trying to close a sale. The best entertainment brokers are the ones you will be developing a lasting business relationship with. Meeting and event professionals job’s are made easier when they are working with a trusted partner within their industry.

Creating a Customer and Client Experience

Trade shows, association annual meetings, and customer appreciation events are just a few of the places that hiring clients have created never-to-be-forgotten customer experiences. Want to stand out in a crowded business environment? Hosting the invitation-only private party, featuring the most sought after musical talent in the world for your customers and clients will do exactly that.

Creating an Employee Experience

Your company would be nothing without your employees and you want to recognize their dedication and hard work. With so many companies surviving the turmoil caused by COVID-19, business owners and leadership teams are creating employee appreciation experiences in unique and memorable ways. 

Your employees are the backbone to the success of your company. Employee engagement describes the level of enthusiasm and commitment an employee feels for their job. Engaged employees feel a dedication to their company and an understanding that their work matters and makes a difference. According to an October 2021 study by Business Insider, “nearly three-quarters of workers are actively thinking about quitting their job.”  You don’t want your employees to add to this statistic. Now, it’s time for your company to recognize their dedication to your organization.

Why does employee engagement matter?

Gallup’s 2020 Survey and Report was the proof many employers needed to see to understand how unhappy their employees were. In short, the statistics were shocking and employers took notice. 

Among actively disengaged workers in 2021, 74% were either actively looking for new employment or watching for openings. This compares with 55% of not engaged employees and 30% of engaged employees. Furthermore, many factors contribute to job changes, including opportunities in the job market, of which employees may be more aware after having time to contemplate their work and life in 2020. Engaged employees sometimes change jobs too, but at a much lower rate than not engaged or actively disengaged employees.

Entertainment agencies have seen a huge spike in calls from companies of all sizes looking for ways to thank their employees. These employee experiences range from incentive trips to award banquets to private parties. But, the one thing they have in common: they want to bring the party to their employees! 

Your employees give you their best every day. So, you have the opportunity to show them how much you appreciate them by giving them a musical experience they will never forget. Working with an entertainment broker will allow you to thank your team in the most memorable way.

What is A Firm Offer Letter?

Hiring musical talent will be accompanied by a firm offer letter, rider and contract. You must understand that by making the offer to hire your entertainment, you are committing to the purchase in full.

Buyer Beware

You’ve gone over everything and you’re ready to commit! When you have made the decision to move forward to hire your talent, you will be making a legally binding commitment. To secure your entertainment you most often will be signing a firm offer letter.

Defined by Cornell University Law School: “A firm offer letter is an offer that will remain open for a certain period or until a certain time or occurrence of a certain event, during which it is incapable of being revoked. As a general rule, all offers are revocable at any time prior to acceptance, even those offers that purport to be irrevocable on their face.”`  

In other words, by making the offer to hire your talent at an agreed price and on the necessary date, should they accept the offer, you are committing to paying their fee and all associated costs to produce the concert as they have outlined in the firm offer letter. You, the hiring client, are now contractually bound to pay their fee & associated costs. Let me state that again: even if you change your mind, you are committed to paying the fee. 

Why do I have to present a firm offer letter?

When you asked the talent to hold a date for your event, you weren’t just asking one person, you were asking an entire team of people to commit to your event as well. If your event date is on a Saturday, the talent, their team, production people, crew, etc. have most likely committed to three to four days on the calendar dedicated to you. Equipment must be rented, rental companies need to transport the equipment and people need to be hired. Airfare, transportation, logistics and hotel accommodations are just the beginning. Non-refundable deposits (sometimes as much as 100%) are placed on your behalf. Your entertainment broker will be committing and coordinating this on your behalf.

You want to hire legendary musicians and bands for your event…and so do a lot of other people. Therefore, the only way for entertainment agencies to weed through the valid offers versus the non-valid offers is for hiring clients to put their actions into words. The firm offer letter does exactly that. 

Rider

Each entertainer is going to have a rider which explains what their needs are to produce their show. This is a long detailed list that lets everyone involved know the technical and logistical details involved.

In other words, it’s the most important document for the producer of the show to have access to. Moreover, it also details everything from the hotel rooms necessary to food requirements for the talent.

Entertainment

Now the really fun part: let’s connect you with some entertainment! We have determined your audience profile, we’ve narrowed down your budget, you’re aware of all the costs involved, you know when and where the performance is going to take place and you understand how the “Hiring Live Entertainment” process works.  

Memorable

More than the music, more than the party, you’re creating memories!

In addition to great music (and an even greater performance), Meet and Greet, autograph signings, VIP reception and pictures can all be part of the event. Therefore, you must negotiate this upfront and have reasonable expectations.

After a one-hour, action-filled performance, many entertainers will request 30 minutes of cool down, followed by 30 minutes of autograph signings and pictures. Be clear in your request and realistic with your expectations.

Timeline 

How much time do I need to pull this off? At a minimum, the Mollie Plotkin Group suggests six months to produce a private concert. As we’ve explained above, there are a lot of moving parts and we have teams of professionals ready to make your dream a reality. It takes time though. As meeting, event and party professionals know, proper allotment of time to plan is necessary to make the magic happen. 

It’s never too early to make the phone call. Like all the vendors event planners rely on, your entertainment broker is someone you want to develop a professional relationship with. They are a fundamental part of your event planning team and someone you are placing trust in. Most importantly, you want to make sure they understand how to best serve you and your hiring client. 

Best Entertainment Agent for You

The best entertainment broker is the person you will be developing a lasting business relationship with. Your entertainment agency makes your job easier. Meeting and event professionals have an endless list of details they need to be on top of. The best entertainment broker is the one you trust because they are as skilled, professional and as detail oriented as you are. 

Why is all of this so important? Because once you bring this level of entertainment to your audience, there’s no going back. Your most difficult task will be making your next event even more memorable!

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