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Finding an Artist
Here are some basic policies for ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES, INC. It's important to lay out to all concerned the methods and policies we go by in doing the job of booking performing artists.

OPERATIONS: We have developed a database containing detailed information on over 8500 qualified buyers of entertainment in the northeast. Not all of these buyers are right for you, but we work with this information daily to pursue the one overriding goal of the company: to make the perfect match of performing artist for the audience, venue, and budget.

When we match an artist to a sponsor, one of us will call to check availability, and discuss any special pricing considerations (such as travel, tech, lodging, etc.). In some calls, we'll ask you to hold the date: use a pencil. We try not to have more than one artist actually holding a date. "Hold" means you're saving the date for a week or two, or until you have another inquiry for that date, at which time I hope you'll call us to give our buyer a chance to confirm or lose the option of booking you. Since every buyer works on a different decision timetable, the more flexible on all sides, the better.

Inquiring as to your availability, and holding a date, are different things to us.
When a date is confirmed, it is entered into a database which holds all the information on a given booking. Using merge documents, contracts are created, along with a confirmation letter to the sponsor which goes out when the contract goes to you. When the contract comes back with your signature, it goes to the sponsor, then comes back with deposit. At this point the fully executed contract is returned to you along with the "gig sheet" which has all the information you'll need the day of the performance (allowing you to leave the contract itself safe at home). There are usually only two copies of the contract -- one for you and one for the sponsor.

LISTING: We need to have the following information on your act, updated periodically to assure accuracy: name, contact person, address, phone numbers (as many as we might need to reach you), social security or Tax ID number; asking price (a fair-market, negotiable, quoted fee that you and anybody else who might book you consistently provides when first asked by a potential buyer); net minimum (that price under which you will not leave your home); payee. We would also like to have your e-mail address and URL, if you have one. When any of this changes, please let us know. Nothing is more frustrating than having a hot gig and not being able to reach you.

Other very useful tools include regularly updated monthly calendars. All we need for this is the date, city, state, and sponsor. We use this information to instantly check availabilities, and also to pick out opportunities that might turn into good routing dates; if, for example, we have a private client who might book an adjacent date for you without conflicting with the one already booked; or line up a public show for you the next night in the same town where you have a private booking.

The evidence is very strong that there are more acts looking for gigs than gigs looking for acts. Therefore, the advantage goes to those who 1) stand apart; 2) are consistently good at drawing and pleasing their audience 3) are artistically vital with a professional approach at all levels, and 4) are fairly priced.

What is fair pricing? In my opinion, the bottom line is: how many tickets you can sell at what price at a given time in a given market. Some performers have, for years, been getting far more than they are worth, thanks to good hype, ignorant presenters, and government funding. This is changing as new economic realities set in. If I ran the zoo, the bottom feeders would stop giving away their services to people who don't know better, so that the pros in it for the long run could establish and hold fair fees. And the only time an artist at any level of the heap raised their fee was when they had more work than they could handle. Fees would be consistent and logical. Artists would operate like a business. And buyers would treat performers with the respect they deserve.

The most important issue in pricing is that your quoted fee is consistent for all inquiries, whether through us, another agent, or direct from you. it is then as negotiable as you want it to be. "Low-balling" is thereby avoided, which ultimately only makes someone (usually you) look bad.

BOOKING: When I decided to get into this, I determined that no matter what direction the business went, two basic rules would apply: 1) that I would avoid at all costs doing the dumb things to artists that agents used to do to me (samples available on request); and 2) that as soon as my inherent honesty became a liability, I'd get out. Those tenets still hold.

The fact that we've booked several million dollars worth of business since 1990 tells me that we're on the right track, but in the area of communications with artists, there is always room for improvement. This information sheet and periodic newsletters will hopefully help that situation. I invite your response to it and any issues it raises.
I started out just booking friends. The upside was (and is) that I know the business the way no other agent does: I've been on-stage for 20 years, played for audiences of 5000 people, and I've been a occasional presenter for longer than that. The downside was that these people were well-known and established, and it was hard to find buyers that didn't already have a relationship with these artists. (See rule #1 above: I have no interest in "horning in" on gigs that you could easily get yourself.)

So I'm bringing more than 25 years of on-stage and backstage experience to the job of agent and producer in Maine and the Northeast. There would be no point getting into it if I didn't think I could do it better than it's being done, and after 10 years, I'm getting there. As agent, my job is to make the best deal possible and make sure the presenter understands how best to present you. As a businessman with an eye on the horizon, I must remain on good terms with the presenter after you've done your gig.

COMMISSIONS: 15% commission applies to all gigs that I call you for, unless we agree otherwise. Negotiable commissions of 5% to 10% can apply when you ask me to help you close a booking with one of your buyers; or if I just handle the contracts after you've negotiated a deal; or if another agent is involved. The preferred method is to take the commission as a deposit, with the balance paid to you the day of the performance. In this way, we are each paid when we do our respective jobs, and we don't have to send checks or 1099's to each other.

This doesn't always work, as when deposits cannot be paid for procedural or legal reasons. There will be other occasions (such as when I don't have full confidence in the buyer, or when payment is heavily reliant on ticket sales, or when you ask me to get a hefty deposit, for example) that I will get to 50% of your fee as a deposit. In that event, I will send you a check. If the total payment is made on the night of the show, I expect immediate payment of the commission unless you make other arrangements with me in advance.

RE-BOOKING: You should ALWAYS re-book through us. The only exceptions would be if the sponsor has a big and legitimate problem with us, but wants you back. We should agree that this is the case before you begin negotiation with the sponsor directly. It hasn't happened to date.

We'll continue to provide business cards for you to use at all gigs we book for you. We appreciate a report from you on the gig after the booking takes place, if only to say that everything went OK, and to discuss a timetable for re-booking. Any information that will help re-book you, or that we should keep in mind for any future contacts with the buyer, is most welcome.

Because we're non-exclusive agents, it's important that good communications and follow-up take place. We'll continue to rely on a job well done, rather than contractual tie-ups, to keep you and the sponsors coming back.


--Chuck Kruger
revised September 1998


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