How an Entertainment Agency works
In addition to writing contracts, making phone calls, sending emails (sometimes 50 a day) an entertainment agent will in the first instance obtain the work, which is in fact, their main role. This has never been so difficult since the post war period. There are occasions when an entertainment agent spends the whole day searching for the right act. Using the example of a sole trader, an entertainment agent’s typical week 40 hr week comprises of:
40%-60% promoting the agency (front page of Google etc) 16-24 hrs
10%-30% dealing with bookings/issues 4-12 hrs
20% responding to enquiries (weeding out time wasters etc) 8 hrs
5% artist registration/maintaining a large artist database 2 hrs
5% Searching for that elusive act 2 hrs
Entertainment Agent Overheads
An entertainment agent has overheads like any business. Here is a list of some of the entertainment agent’s overheads totalling (typically £2000+/year:
• Bank charges
• General office costs – lighting heating stationary PC telephone etc
• Broadband costs
• Hosting service/domain name rental/SEO/AdWords
• Petrol – checking out artists/venues
• Membership of FSB etc
• Advertising – yellow pages etc
• Tax return and accounting (no cash for the entertainment agent)
Submitting your Details to an Entertainment Agent
When you submit material do it via post AND email AND text message – that will ensure that your details can be accessed at all times. When submitting pictures/recordings to the entertainment agent supply as many as possible, up to 10 examples is okay, and let the agent make the final choice regarding representation. Most recordings are unusable, so if you are serious about your work leave it to the expert. A weekly/fortnightly date sheet is a good idea (It gets quieter towards the end of the week) as is a gig list on your website. An entertainment agent may use an internet pseudonym to avoid supplying key words to the public domain. There is no such thing as an agent friendly website.
The First Gig for an Entertainment Agent
Getting gigs is hard work so make an impression and don’t rely on the agent to keep getting you through the door. Don’t turn up at the gig without a wad of cards. Arrive early – it looks professional and it’s a good opportunity to break the ice. A Satnav is worth its weight in gold. Entertainment agents don’t like unnecessary phone calls in the evening, especially when their job has already been done. They may rebook because they like you rather than product.
Always discuss the requirement directly well before the booking date, it’s reassuring for the client and allows any fine detail to be buttoned down, E.g. special song, local gags etc. If two sets are required checking with client after first set is a good idea. Adopt a flexible approach. An entertainment agent can’t get work for everyone and will always have their favourite artists and they are not necessarily the most talented but could be the most flexible.
Also remember that the first entertainment agency gig is very important but high risk, so it may not be a big earner. However if all goes well you have initiated what could be a fruitful relationship. If the agent comes along to see the act ask for feedback- he is the only one who will tell you the truth when you in the “zone”. When was the last time your product was reviewed?
Pat Testing of equipment and Public Liability Insurance
This is a requirement mandatory by law and a requirement of all bookings by any entertainment agency, so don’t get caught out. It also looks professional if you can forward the relevant certificates.
How to get on with Entertainment Agents
Ask yourself why you use an estate agent and avoid outmoded clichés like, just one phone call.
The industry is becoming polarised. Established artists are working with established agents, new artists working with the newer “post internet” agents. The entertainment agent wants the service at wholesale prices with a view to competitive retail. If an agent charges:
• 15% commission – you will be one of a 1000
• 20% commission – you will be one of a 100
• 25% commission – you will be one of 10.
Treat every gig as a promotion opportunity. Not getting rebooked on the night is okay. Not getting any enquiries is questionable. It is advisable to have more than one product. E.g. a comedian can be a hypnotism, or magician/clown, an 80s band/soul, Elvis/Ratpack and so on. Make sure your product is commercial and clearly defined. No one will be looking for 6 different tribute acts in one show. Be responsive, agents don’t like answer machines or email responses more than 1 day old. Email on the move is a must have.
Each gig costs an entertainment agent around £100 to obtain and it generally takes longer to get the gig than to do the show. An agent does not get paid for just brokering the deal; it’s also for marketing the product, establishing hundreds of connections and dealing with interminable dialogues. Technology has changed the industry. Some entertainment agencies are venue led others are internet led. When the recession is over we will be in a new economy with entertainment moving into line with other industries and work slowly migrating towards the more progressive internet driven entertainment agencies.
Copyright Jamie Costello – Steel bands for hire [http://www.steelbands4u.co.uk] – This article is free to publish as long as links remain click-able.
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