Agents, Speakers Bureaus, Event Planners. These are THE most important resource a corporate entertainer has. As a Toronto based, but internationally performing corporate event entertainer here’s my thinking on this topic :
I’ll start off with a bad example and move on. An agent I’d heard of ( with a horrific reputation ) and for whom I’ve never done business; emails this morning at not even 9am.
“You don’t know me, we’ve never worked together, but you’ll want to. I have an offer for you, February 2019 it pays X dollars.”
I reply ” the money you’re offering doesn’t cover the tax on my fee, also it’s true, I don’t know you, …and not without reason.” (I REALLY need a manager who can save me from myself)
A quick note about entertainment agents and speakers bureau’s. Over the course of my career I’ve heard plenty of entertainers tell horror stories about how much they hate agents they work for. The gripe is about the percentage they mark up. Elvis got screwed by his agent. I get it, I’ve had some bad ones over the last 25 years myself. I often hear entertainers saying “agents make 25% to have a phone” and in the age of google they’re basically obsolete. Don’t be so sure about that. Consider this :
The agent chooses YOU to pitch to their client. They have hundreds of acts to choose from, and now thanks to google a WORLD of acts to choose from. They opt to profile YOU. Once you’re sold to the client agents handle everything. At least the good ones do and it’s all done for you. Venue organization, setting up and making sure the client follows your rider. Passing along the clients needs to you. Air fare, ground transportation, meals, a list of contacts and phone numbers in case anything happens along the way, oh and they pay you. Even if the client stiffs them for money, YOU the act, always get paid. You’re telling me all that isn’t worth a 25% mark up of your fee? I often agree to a higher commission to really good planners and agents, and I’m happy to agree to whatever their markup is, IF they’re good.
Case in point. My cruise agents in California are fantastic. Artist West Entertainment. Ron and Steve are the best kind of agents. Always have the backs of the performer while being sure that the client, in my case Holland America Cruise Line, is best served by myself and my show. They deal with everything. I NEVER have to talk to the people at the cruise line. The flights, shows, all the details are given to me before I leave, packaged up in a tidy email. I literally take my ticket, show up at the airport and the machine they’ve organized does the rest. All I have to do is make sure when I perform I do an amazing job. I can do that everytime because I can focus on the show, nothing else. When there’s a problem with anything ( there NEVER is with HAL, but IF there were ) boom, agent help is a phone call away and one of them is always online to help or answer questions 24/7. I know this because I’ve used the service. They even email me every week to remind me to update my avails to make it easier for them to sell me. All that is worth commission.
The artists who complain about agent and bureau commission really need to sit back and think about what you get for that service fee.
Finally, try to remember that 80% of the time or more, when a corporate, cruise or other potential client calls an agency looking for entertainment for an event they aren’t requesting YOU. That agent has to decide to sell you. Be grateful they do. As an entertainer all you want to do is work on your act. Agents free up your time to do that. So put your feet up, have another latte, spin a Clash record on the turn table and write some material.
Good Night and Good Luck,