Monthly Archives: June 2016

How to Find Singers for Hire

When it comes to your party, event or special occasion there are so many different things to consider and add to your ‘to do’ list. A special occasion such as a birthday party or wedding needs to be a part of your personality and suit your individual style and image.

If you are on a tight budget choosing to organise your own party or event will save you money. Event planners will cost in the region of £40 – £250 per hour, depending on how involved you want them to be. For example; the average cost of an event planner for a wedding could be as much as £10,000 and that is on top of the wedding outfits, food and associated costs.

If you are planning your own party or event, you will need to be very organised and a lot of time will be spent on writing ‘to do’ lists and speaking with various different companies in trying to determine exactly what it is you want. From deciding which venue to hire to selecting the food, and more importantly what kind of entertainment you will choose will be at the top of the list.

Entertainment is one of the most important parts of ensuring everyone enjoys your party or special event. The last thing you want is people sat around looking uncomfortable as they are not enjoying the music or band that you have chosen.

Many people are moving away from traditional discos and more are either turning to bands for their event or singers. You should take time to look at all options when it comes to bands and singers; there are so many various styles of music and types of bands available it can be a hard decisions to make.

Bands and Singers for hire at events and parties are a fairly new concept to the UK. They have traditionally been big in the US, with people choosing them for an array of special occasions; from weddings, Bar Mitzvah, baby showers and even children’s birthday parties.

You will need to select your entertainment based on your audience, you do not want a country and western band or singers for a group of friends who love the music from the 1990’s. Decide if it is a band or a standalone performer you are looking for, this will narrow down the type of entertainment you need to search for.

If you can listening to a sample of the performers music will help you realise just how suitable they are. Just because they are professional singers for hire does not mean they will suit your party or audience. Knowing the type of music you want will also eliminate room for upset, you do not want a performer to arrive and start singing Frank Sinatra when you wanted ACDC.

Sometimes the saying ‘get what you pay for’ comes into play when booking your band or singer. If you want to hire a good performer with lots of excellent reviews you will need to be prepared to pay more, there is always room for negotiation and many performers will expect to have to work to a clients budget. Do not be shy in asking.

A good way of negotiating would be to offer to feed or give free drinks to the band or performer throughout the evening, this reduces their costs and everyone likes to eat free food, especially as the food at your event will be extra special.

It maybe a good idea to organise a ‘backup’ band or performer, on the rare occasion the entertainment you have chosen to hire may well be sick or break down on the way to your event and you are left with nothing. Buying a spare pair of speakers and knowing you can put some music on or there is someone you can turn to at the last minute will help.

There will be plenty of bands and singers for hire in your local area, the best place to start to is ask around and see if anyone can recommend someone to you. The internet is also a great place to find your ideal performer, with many offering music samples online that you can listen too.

When you have the details sorted, all you need to worry about is everyone turning up!

How to Start a Record Label

The music industry is an open house for talents. Digital distribution is a boon for independent record labels. Creating your own record label is not difficult with access to music and a loyal fan base. If you are passionate about music, you can start your own record label with planning and hard work.

You should have clear goals about what you want to accomplish with your record label. Your recording company may want to make a lot of money or cater to a specific audience. You should choose your music accordingly. Once you have established business goals, you should create a business plan. This business plan will have all the steps necessary to create your own record. Then you should set off to create a legal business entity. To become a registered business, you should learn the rules and regulations in your city. You can start a record label all on your own or partner with your friends. If you plan to start a partnership company, you should register your partnership first.

After completing the legal formalities of a record label, you should focus on finding great music. Music composers who can’t find an easy way to record their music now create record labels. You can also find great music bands that are just waiting for the spotlight. The success of your music label depends on the quality of music you wish to sell.

Setting your budget is crucial to earn profits with your record business. You should establish a deal with the musicians to record music. In most of the cases, the record label should bear the recording costs. If the artists need advance, you should plan your budget so that you will have enough money to cover promotional expenses. Profits can be shared with your artist in any way according to your business goals. You can sign the artists for several albums or just for a single album depending on your prediction about the future of the musicians.

Digital distribution is simpler than physical distribution. You can use aggregating music service to directly put your music on various websites. It is best to deal with distributors who can actively participate in promoting your music label. You can promote your music on your own if you have enough resources. Otherwise, you can hire PR teams to promote the music label. You should be prepared to understand and update your business according to the music industry demands. With every release, your business should evolve and improve.

The Types and Styles

Music is a melody of words. A lover’s song to his love. A vent for anger. A sight painted by a musician for a blind man. A plea for deliverance. It brings happiness to the heart. It is the expression of life. Music has thousands of meanings. To explain all the ways it touches the heart is rather difficult, but the essence of music is to reach out and communicate a message not understood. It has evolved in style and composition over the ages, which resulted in different types and forms. Different types of music evolved as civilizations evolved and made their mark in the human history.

Instrumental:

Instrumental music uses a composition of instruments to create the perfect rhythm and beat whether it is classical, jazz, opera, or other musical styles. This type of genre is different as there are no vocals and no lyrics and is enjoyed by many. It just uses the beat of a drum, the strings of a guitar, the chords of a violin, the sound of a trumpet and a range of other instruments to create music. Gary Gable, Richard Amos and John Adams are some of the most famous instrumental music composers.

Trance:

Trance music style uses the electronic medium to create the melody. It had originated in the 1990s. The melodious notes take the listener to an emotional high. It uplifts the mood giving the listener an out of the world experience. Goa trance is a subset of this music type which originated in the late 1980s in Goa, India. This type of music has been the icon of hippie culture. Tiesto is one of the globally recognized, famous trance players. He wanted to share his music with others.

Country:

Country music finds its inspiration in traditional folk, Celtic, and Gospel. Country music brings the listener closer to home, inducing a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard are some of the most famous country music composers and singers of all time. The origin of the country music dates back to the 1940s.

Hip Hop:

Hip hop is rhythm, its style, it’s shaking your leg to the very rhythmic vocal. It originated in the 1970s. Hip hop is much influenced by African American culture and the Jamaicans. The funky style of music is famous among teens for its easy style and rhythm. This is a different music type as it does not have any historic tradition involved. It is very urban, chic and contemporary.

Classical:

This popular genre uses the traditions of music for its compositions. Classical musical is divided into many classical genres which include Baroque, Chamber Music, Opera and Romantic just to name a few. However, Indian classical music is one of the most popular in this category. It originates from the Vedas, brining in the 7 notes to make different ragas. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Begam Akhtar, Amir Khan and Kishori Amonkar are some of the legendary classical singers.

Latin:

The sumptuous notes of Latin melodies gets the world grooving at its feet. The beat, the rhythm, the mandolin and the plucking of strings are incredible. Dances like the Salsa, the Mambo and the Cha, Cha, Cha evolved to enjoy this style of music. Latin music style makes the world come alive.

It is a Herculean task to put down so many types of music. These are just a few popular ones, which the world has discovered. However, the traditional folk style, Jazz and the magic it creates with the saxophone, the Blues which sing the song of the heart and the Tribal music which comes straight from the jungles are some other melody types. The styles of music will keep evolving and continue to remain an integral part of human development. Yes, of course, we are an outcome of its transformation. Let’s not forget that it is the music of the heart, its beat and rhythm that gives us life and love!

Necessary Steps to Developing a Successful Music

No matter how successful you were in your music career last year, this year could be better. Then again, if you are unwilling to change with the tide, it could end your career completely. Here are 8 steps to make sure your music career develops into the most successful business venture it can be.

Write Down Your Goals

At the beginning of each year, you should write down realistic, attainable goals for the next twelve months. Break your long term goals down into short-term goals so that you can monitor your progress, and reward yourself every now and then.

Keep that list of goals in front of you every single day. What you do then is work out a plan of how you will achieve each of goal. By having an actionable plan that you can look at every day, will reinforce the need to complete a certain number of things per day. You may also come up with additional ideas as you go along. By the end of the year, you will be amazed at just how much you did accomplish from your list.

Learn How to Make a Strong Marketing Plan for Your Music

Your music is a product, so you better have a strong marketing plan to get the word out about it. This is especially true if you’re an unsigned artist, and still need to do a lot of your music promotion yourself. It’s a lot more than recording a great sounding album, commissioning artwork for it and spending tons of time on the packaging. These days, only the most die-hard fans even buy CD’s. You should be spending your marketing money on promoting the music itself. In the long run, your money does a lot more work for you that way.

Start Gigging

Playing shows is one of the best ways to promote your music. Not only is live music everywhere, but once you’re established enough, you get paid to play, rather than the other way around. It also offers a great venue to sell CD’s and other merchandise. You can’t really beat live shows, no matter how big or small they are, because they offer some of the best word of mouth you can get. They are also a great way to get contacts within the industry, as people scouting for talent scour even the most out-of-the-way places to find the next big thing.

Make Your Own Music Website

Having your own website is extremely affordable. After purchasing a domain name, hosting can even be free outside, of paying for the domain every year. Make sure that you have strong knowledge of online marketing or hire someone who does. Your website becomes the hub of all of your music marketing efforts and from there, visitors can branch out and see everything that you do. It can be one of your greatest assets and can make even unsigned musicians a lot of money through the exposure.

Get Your Music Promoted on Blogs

Bloggers are happy to promote good musicians and they are one of the easiest ways to get song promotion. They often only require a bit of your time for an interview, as people want to know the artist behind the music. By taking the time to interview, the blogger can gain a better grasp of who you are and provide valuable information to people who are looking for new artists in your genre. Bloggers get paid by their own advertisers and by referring their visitors to your music. The social media coverage that bloggers offer is also fairly substantial and can get you a lot of new followers.

Understand That Your Music is a Business

Like any industry, music is a business. This means you have to make money to get anywhere. Whenever you make a profit from your music, it’s smart to reinvest that money. You can put some into marketing and advertising, some into improved equipment, and some into getting to play better venues.

Streaming is Where the Money Is Now

With album sales going by the wayside, streaming music is the area to focus on. While it doesn’t look as glamorous as record sales, the long-term profit margins are actually considerably higher. People who like your music and listen to it all the time will actually make you a lot more money than they would have by simply buying an album or their favorite tracks. It also means that the tracks that aren’t as widely marketed are just as accessible as the hits, meaning that people will be a lot more likely to check out your whole catalog, meaning you can make a lot more money.

Learn How to Adapt and Grow with The Industry

Every industry is always growing and evolving, and keeping up with those changes is extremely necessary to stay successful. This doesn’t mean buying into every new trend that comes along. But if you can find a way to take advantage of new technology or other new advancements, while staying within your budget, and making a profit.

Performance Clauses In Entertainment

Producing and editing a masterwork of recorded music is obviously a specialized art form. But so is the entertainment lawyer’s act of drafting clauses, contracts, and contractual language generally. How might the art of the entertainment attorney’s legal drafting a clause or contract affect the musician, composer, songwriter, producer or other artist as a practical matter? Many artists think they will be “home free”, just as soon as they are furnished a draft proposed record contract to sign from the label’s entertainment attorney, and then toss the proposed contract over to their own entertainment lawyer for what they hope will be a rubber-stamp review on all clauses. They are wrong. And those of you who have ever received a label’s “first form” proposed contract are chuckling, right about now.

Just because a U.S. record label forwards an artist its “standard form” proposed contract, does not mean that one should sign the draft contract blindly, or ask one’s entertainment lawyer to rubber-stamp the proposed agreement before signing it blindly. A number of label forms still used today are quite hackneyed, and have been adopted as full text or individual clauses in whole or in part from contract form-books or the contract “boilerplate” of other or prior labels. From the entertainment attorney’s perspective, a number of label recording clauses and contracts actually read as if they were written in haste – just like Nigel Tufnel scrawled an 18-inch Stonehenge monument on a napkin in Rob Reiner’s “This Is Spinal Tap”. And if you are a musician, motion picture fan, or other entertainment lawyer, I bet you know what happened to Tap as a result of that scrawl.

It stands to reason that an artist and his or her entertainment lawyer should carefully review all draft clauses, contracts, and other forms forwarded to the artist for signature, prior to ever signing on to them. Through negotiation, through the entertainment attorney, the artist may be able to interpose more precise and even-handed language in the contract ultimately signed, where appropriate. Inequities and unfair clauses aren’t the only things that need to be removed by one’s entertainment lawyer from a first draft proposed contract. Ambiguities must also be removed, before the contract can be signed as one.

For the artist or the artist’s entertainment attorney to leave an ambiguity or inequitable clause in a signed contract, would be merely to leave a potential bad problem for a later day – particularly in the context of a signed recording contract which could tie up an artist’s exclusive services for many years. And remember, as an entertainment lawyer with any longitudinal data on this item will tell you, the artistic “life-span” of most artists is quite short – meaning that an artist could tie up his or her whole career with one bad contract, one bad signing, or even just one bad clause. Usually these bad contract signings occur before the artist seeks the advice and counsel of an entertainment attorney.

One seemingly-inexhaustible type of ambiguity that arises in clauses in entertainment contracts, is in the specific context of what I and other entertainment lawyers refer to as a contract “performance clause”. A non-specific commitment in a contract to perform, usually turns out to be unenforceable. Consider the following:

Contract Clause #1: “Label shall use best efforts to market and publicize the Album in the Territory”.

Contract Clause #2: “The Album, as

delivered to Label by Artist, shall be produced and edited using only first-class facilities and equipment for sound recording and all other activities relating to the Album”.

One shouldn’t use either clause in a contract. One shouldn’t agree to either clause as written. One should negotiate contractual edits to these clauses through one’s entertainment lawyer, prior to signature. Both clauses set forth proposed contractual performance obligations which are, at best, ambiguous. Why? Well, with regard to Contract Clause #1, reasonable minds, including those of the entertainment attorneys on each side of the transaction, can differ as to what “best efforts” really means, what the clause really means if different, or what the two parties to the contract intended “best efforts” to mean at the time (if anything). Reasonable minds, including those of the entertainment lawyers on each side of the negotiation, can also differ as to what constitutes a “first-class” facility as it is “described” in Contract Clause #2. If these contractual clauses were ever scrutinized by judge or jury under the hot lights of a U.S. litigation, the clauses might well be stricken as void for vagueness and unenforceable, and judicially read right out of the corresponding contract itself. In the view of this particular New York entertainment attorney, yes, the clauses really are that bad.

Consider Contract Clause #1, the “best efforts” clause, from the entertainment lawyer’s perspective. How would the artist really go about enforcing that contractual clause as against a U.S. label, as a practical matter? The answer is, the artist probably wouldn’t, at end of day. If there ever were a contract dispute between the artist and label over money or the marketing expenditure, for example, this “best efforts” clause would turn into the artist’s veritable Achilles Heel in the contract, and the artist’s entertainment attorney might not be able to help the artist out of it as a practical matter:

Artist: “You breached the ‘best efforts’ clause in the contract!”

Label: “No! I tried! I tried! I really did!”

You get the idea.

Why should an artist leave a label with that kind of contractual “escape-hatch” in a clause? The entertainment lawyer’s answer is, “no reason at all”. There is absolutely no reason for the artist to put his or her career at risk by agreeing to a vague or lukewarm contractual marketing commitment clause, if the marketing of the Album is
perceived to be an essential part of the deal by and for the artist. It often is. It would be the artist’s career at stake. If the marketing spend throughout the contract’s Term diminishes over time, so too could the artist’s public recognition and career as a result. And the equities should be on the artist’s side, in a contractual negotiation conducted between entertainment attorneys over this item.

Assuming that the label is willing to commit to a contractual marketing spend clause at all, then, the artist-side entertainment lawyer argues, the artist should be entitled to know in advance how his or her career would be protected by the label’s expenditure of marketing dollars. Indeed, asks the entertainment attorney, “Why else is the artist signing this deal other than an advance, marketing spend, and tour support?”. The questions may be phrased a bit differently nowadays, in the current age of the contract now known as the “360 deal”. The clauses may evolve, or devolve, but the equitable arguments remain principally the same.

The point is, it is not just performers that should be held to performance clauses in contracts. Companies can be asked by entertainment lawyers to subscribe to performance clauses in contracts, too. In the context of a performance clause – such as a record label’s contractual obligation to market and publicize an album – it is incumbent upon the artist, and the artist’s entertainment attorney if any, to be very specific in the clause itself about what is contractually required of the record company. It should never be left to a subsequent verbal side conversation. In other words, working with his or her entertainment lawyer, the artist should write out a “laundry-list” clause setting forth each of the discrete things that the artist wants the label to do. As but a partial example:

Contract Clause #3: “To market and publicize the Album in the Territory, you, Label, will spend no less than ‘x’ U.S. dollars on advertising for the Album during the following time period: ____________”; or even,

Contract Clause #4: “To market and publicize the Album in the Territory, you, Label, will hire the ___________ P.R. firm in New York, New York, and you will cause no less than ‘y’ U.S. dollars to be expended for publicity for and directly relating to the Album (and no other property or material) during the following time period: _____________”.

Compare Clauses #3 and #4, to Contract Clause #1 earlier above, and then ask yourself or your own entertainment attorney: Which are more hortatory? Which are more precise?

As for Contract Clause #2 and its vague unexplained definition of “first-class facilities and equipment” – why not have one’s entertainment lawyer instead just include in the contract a laundry-list clause of the names of five professional recording studios in the relevant city, that both parties, label and artist, prospectively agree constitute “first-class” for definitional purposes? This is supposed to be a contract, after all, the entertainment attorney opines. “Don’t leave your definitions, and therefore definitional problems, for a later document or a later day, unless you truly want to make a personal financial commitment to keeping more litigators awash in business debating bad clauses and bad contracts before the courts”.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Through the entertainment lawyer, the artist should make the label expressly sign on to a very specific contractual list of tasks in an appropriate clause, monitor the label’s progress thereafter, and hold the label to the specific contractual standard that the artist was smart enough to “carve in” in the clause through the entertainment attorney in the first instance.

Again, consider Contract Clause #2, the “first class facilities and equipment” clause, from the entertainment lawyer’s perspective. Note that, unlike Contract Clause #1, this is a promise made by the artist to the label – and not a promise made by the label to the artist.

So, an artist might now ask his or her entertainment attorney:

“The shoe’s on the other foot, isn’t it?”

“‘First class’ in that clause is as vague and undefined a contractual standard as ‘best efforts’, isn’t it, entertainment lawyer?”

Entertainment attorney answer: “Right”.

“So, entertainment lawyer, there won’t be any harm in me, the artist, signing onto that contractual clause, will there, because I will be able to wiggle out of it if I ever had to, right?”

Entertainment attorney answer: “Wrong”.

The fact is, a contractual ambiguity in a performance clause is a bad thing – in either case – whether in the context of a label obligation to artist; or even in the context of an artist obligation to a label. The entertainment lawyer should advise that any contractual ambiguity in any clause could hurt the artist, even in the context of one of the artist’s own obligations to the other contracting party. Don’t rest on the linchpin of ambiguities in clauses when conducting business and relying on contracts – even if, in your musical art form itself, as Cameron Crowe once suggested of my first guitar hero Peter Frampton, you may happen to write “obscurantist” song lyrics while taking your own artistic license. Contracts need to be handled differently.

Here’s how ambiguity in your own contractual commitment to a label hurts you, from the entertainment lawyer’s perspective. The old-saw contractual principle of music “delivery” often finds the artist required to hand over documents to the label, as well as physical materials such as the album itself in the form of masters, digital masters, or “glass masters”, in order to get paid. By virtue of a contractually-delineated procedure vetted by and between entertainment attorneys, the label may be entitled to hold some (or even all) monies back, and not pay those monies to the artist until “delivery is complete” under the delivery clauses and delivery schedule in a contract. As one might therefore guess, “delivery” is a definite event whose occurrence or non-occurrence under the contract is oft-contested and sometimes even arbitrated or otherwise litigated by and between artists, labels, and the entertainment lawyers and litigators that represent them.

It is incumbent upon the artist and the artist’s entertainment attorney to prevent the label from drumming-up a pretextual “failed delivery” under any clause in the contract as an excuse for non-payment. In the context of Contract Clause #2 above, “first-class facilities and equipment” could easily become that pretext – the artist’s Achilles Heel in the litigation-tested contract contested between entertainment lawyer litigators. The label could simply take the position through counsel or otherwise that the delivered materials were not created at a “first-class” facility as contractually required in the relevant clause, no matter what facility was used. Why? Because “first-class” was never defined in any clause in the contractual document by either entertainment attorney on either side, as any particular facility.

And if no clause in the contract explicitly defined “first class” as an entertainment lawyer would have advised that it should do, then the artist could well be out the money, at least for the entire duration of an eminently avoidable multi-year litigation over what 2 dumb words mean. Worse yet, meanwhile, the label might be holding the money and laughing at the artist behind the artist’s back for his or her lack of contractual prescience. From the artist-side entertainment lawyer’s perspective, both of those horror-show possible eventualities and scenarios, are intolerable. They could have been avoided by a single, better clause – often the narrow reed upon which an artist’s success ultimately rests. (Ask Billy Joel. Ask Neil Young. Ask Bruce Springsteen. Ask George Michael. Ask John Fogerty).

What about prescience? How can this foreseeable contractual delivery dispute in the context of Contract Clause #2, be avoided by the entertainment lawyer? The simple solution in this case, again, is for the artist’s entertainment attorney to take a few extra minutes during the negotiations, and textually list-out, in a reply draft counter-proposed contract sent to the label, even if a single succinct clause, the actual facilities intended to be used. The artist-side entertainment lawyer can seek to make the label explicitly contractually pre-agree to the list of facilities, by name and address, in the body of the contract’s text. That is what a contract is for, anyway, as an entertainment attorney will tell you. When used correctly, a contract and its clauses really just comprise a dispute-avoidance tool. An entertainment contract should be a dispute-avoidance tool exchanged between entertainment lawyers. Also note that a contractual ambiguity in a clause could hurt an artist, regardless of whether it is embedded in one of the artist’s performance obligations, or even in one of the label’s performance obligations! The moral?: List all performance obligations. Break them down into discrete and understandable tasks, clause by clause. Approach it the same way an entertainment attorney would. Better yet – enlist the assistance of one before forming an opinion about the clauses or signing the contract.

The Golden Rules for Booking Live Entertainment

Booking Live Entertainment

The Golden Rules When Booking Live Entertainment for Your Event

Tips & Tricks For The Entertainment Buyer

Having worked as a professional magician and mind reader for the past sixteen years, I have seen hundreds if not thousands of venues all over the world. From Boston, where I am based, to Singapore, where I work for a few weeks once per year, and many cities and countries in between. A similarity that crosses all borders is the consistent lack of knowledge the client has when booking live entertainment. This is true for that of a variety type. (e.g magicians, jugglers, clowns, etc.).

Now this can be forgiven (to an extent), as most people have not booked live entertainment before and know absolutely nothing about how the process works. These individuals can be forgiven and kindly instructed by the performer on how the smooth the process can and should be. That said, when you as the entertainer are working through a seasoned booker (e.g someone who works for a company that plans all large and small functions), there is really no excuse for poor booking processes.

After speaking with several performer friends from all areas of entertainment, we have come up with a list of guidelines any future client should be at least familiar with before hiring professional entertainment.

When To Book Live Entertainment

So you want to hire some entertainment for your party, event, graduation, anniversary, etc. Whatever the case may be, you want to spice it up with something live and fun! First thing you should know is that performers of all varieties whether magicians, fire eaters or live bands, need time to prepare their shows. Most of us specially design our performances around your event, and this does take some time and will go into the price of the performance. You will want to give at least 3-4 weeks notice to a performer before booking. This is my suggested time frame for me, other performers require much earlier notice, and some can take an event with just a couple days notice. It depends on our schedules, current bookings and flexibility and of course, the performer himself (or herself). Our schedules are very strange, and totally non-traditional – we can have gigs at all hours of the day, night, and even into the very early mornings. Please Note: If you call a performer a day or two, or three, or even four before your event, they will most likely charge a little more for the short notice. It takes time to make your event special, whether by creating custom routines as I do, setting up a music set list, or getting required licenses or permits for more dangerous acts like fire eating and sideshow stunts.

What Are You Looking For

Hiring entertainment for your event can really enhance your guests’ experience. Whether it’s a live band, DJ, caricaturist, or magician, live performances create a truly unique experience that your guests will share with their friends and families when they leave. You want to determine what kind of entertainment best suits your particular event. For example: If you’re getting married at a golf resort. With 200 guests and a traditional setup (cocktail hour, plated dinner, speeches, dancing, etc.), then you will want to determine where and when entertainment makes sense. If you’re interested in magic or mind reading, which is very popular at weddings, then you would be best to place it into the cocktail reception for what is called “strolling” or “walk-around.” This is where the performer wanders through your cocktail hour performing small, up close effects and routines for small groups of guests. This offers a personal experience you sometimes lose with a full length show. It also breaks up the occasional repetitiveness of such portions of the event. Magic, mind reading or a little light music can really make a difference. Have an idea of what you want, lay out your event, and see where it makes the most sense. Maybe a full length comedy mind reading show after a three day corporate retreat? Or perhaps you’re celebrating your child’s birthday and want some entertainment to keep all the little guests entertained? A children’s magic and balloon show is a perfect fit here. Look into my other article on Magic & Mind Reading for Adults vs. Magic for Children, for more detailed information.

Determine Your Budget

This is by far one of the most important points a soon-to-be entertainment buyer must understand. It should be known that every performer, no matter what persuasion, charges differently. A fire eater will charge differently from a juggler or clown. A mentalist will charge differently from a magician or stilt walker. This is based on how they value their time and expertise.

Have at least a rough idea on what you’re looking to spend on entertainment. Do not be afraid to ask a performer if he or she can work within your budget. Be realistic about it and think about your event and the kind of image that you want your guests to take home with them, and try to get a rough idea on what you would be willing to spend achieve that image. You will not insult us with your budget. We will just say no politely or even recommend someone who could better work within your financial parameters.

Entertainers usually know each other and bounce work around quite a bit. We almost always know what our friends and competitors charge. The more unique the performance style, the smaller number of performers. If you have $200 for a full length hypnosis performance, you may want to look into another form of entertainment. Most hypnotists don’t leave home for less than triple that amount. If you have $5,000 for entertainment, then you’re in a whole new bracket of entertainers. More on that later.

Details, Details, Details

Now you know what you want. The next thing to do is get your details together. These include the following in order of importance for the performer to know:

1. Date of the Event

2. Time You Want The Entertainer To Arrive & To Begin Performing

3. Type of Event (birthday, corporate lunch, trade show, etc.)

4. What You Want From The Entertainer in Detail

5. Budget!

6. How Many Guests You’re Expecting

7. Description of the Venue (indoors, outdoors, theater style seating, tables, etc.)

8. Will There Be Other Entertainment (what kind, how long, etc.)

9. Have All Of Your Info Available (phone number, email, mailing address, etc.)

Having this information ready when you call an entertainer will make your booking process go much, much smoother and usually result in only one, maybe two phone calls or emails. Missing information does happen. Maybe you don’t have your venue nailed down yet? No problem, try to give us a rough idea of where you’re looking so we know how to prepare. If you’re thinking a typically busy, dark restaurant but then go for a show at the beach, in the sun, with wind… This will be a little frustrating for the entertainer.

Know Your Venue

As stated above, the venue is very important. To most of us, we can perform practically anywhere (within reason). I’ve worked on moving boats, trains, and even on a private jet. Some of us who work with dangerous items, such as sword swallowers or fire breathers, require very specific environments in which to work safely for themselves and the guests in attendance.

Let’s look at a few examples of common venue locations for a mentalist or magician:

1. The Country Club – always a popular location for a little walk around magic/mind reading or even a full length performance. Usually everyone is well-dressed, having formal meals, and looking for a more sophisticated form of entertainment. This is not the best place for a chainsaw juggler.

2. The Nightclub – usually dedicated to bachelor/bachelorette parties, adult birthdays, company buy-outs, holiday parties and practically any event you’d book to have some serious fun! Usually it is very loud, crowded, and drinks are flowing. This is not the best time to have a palm reader or full length magic show. Instead you could opt for some strolling entertainment, live music, or even a dance group.

3. Your Residence – Probably the most common location for family events, graduations, anniversaries and private holiday parties. You won’t normally see a lot of craziness as you would in the nightclub. Such events are normally filled with family members, friends and children. Everyone knows each other, is very comfortable and is not scared of being a little silly from time to time. A great time for a hypnotist! Or even personal tarot readings. Definitely a great time for a mind reading performance.

The point is to use your venue to its absolute potential. Play out the scenario in your head with the entertainment you have in mind. If it seems like it could work, go for it. Chances are you’re right!

Price Shopping

As performers we all work insanely hard to provide the absolute best entertainment for the best possible value. Our prices are all different, but with variations based on what we offer, where we live, how much equipment we have to transport, etc. Customers should know that there is A LOT more that goes into the booking on our end then you might think. This can include organizing our material, writing up contracts, invoices, and riders, getting to and from the gig; setting up; tearing down; packing at home; unpacking at home; re-setting our equipment; writing emails; making phone calls; updating schedules and social media; and more. What the customer sees is a small portion of the work performers do for a single booking. All of that goes into our fees as well. Please keep this in mind if you live in northern Maine and you really want the face painter from New Jersey at your party.

That said, price shopping does not mean you will get the best show for the lowest price. Also, the highest price artist out there is not necessarily better than the one who charges half or more less than that. Your selection should be based on recommendations, referrals, skill-set, and your budget. Not everyone can afford to book Aerosmith. For example; say you are hiring a children’s magician for a birthday party. In New England, the rough booking fees range between $275 and $500 for an hour long show, with the ability to have add-ons like balloon animals, teach-a-trick, or magic goody bags. If you’re getting offers at $100 or even Less! you should seriously consider what you’re getting. Watch videos, call past clients, check the quality of their website, marketing materials, etc.. Do your homework! You wouldn’t by 100 pairs of socks for $1.00 would you?

Referrals VS Resume

This can be a tricky section for a buyer. A lot of entertainers, especially when they’re just starting out tend to fluff their resumes with big name clients to draw attention. In many cases they’re not totally accurate. That doesn’t mean they’re not good performers, they’re just trying to get some business. Then again, a lot of professionals out there have very thick resumes that are all 100% legit. You can usually tell from observation who’s on the level and who isn’t.

The best way you can make a decision is through referrals, testimonials, video demonstrations and reviews. Any magician or mentalist worth his salt will post a video of a portion of his show, as a teaser. This is the hardest hitting material that makes the audience go wild. I would be leery of a performer who didn’t have at least some kind of video, even a poor-quality one. It’s 2014 after all; most of us have cameras in our phones that shoot better than handheld cameras just a few years earlier.

I’ve found that the best way I book events is through word-of-mouth and my website with a link to my YouTube channel.

Actual VS Perceived Value

Like referrals vs. resume this can be a tricky section to explain correctly. As a quick definition, the actual value of a performer is connected to the following: his or her performance quality, attitude (courteous, respectful of clients needs, friendly without being annoyingly friendly or overly familiar, etc.), dress sense/style, and uniqueness of the performance. Now these are just examples and include quite a few other points that you’ll notice after you hire entertainment. Notice how price was not a part of the actual value. The fee a performer requires for the event is based around the points I made above in point 6. You will not know the actual value of your performer until you’ve hired him or her to perform. Now, perceived value is what we do when we look at the artists’ website, bio, pictures, videos, social media pages, etc. We determine if we like them within the first minute – or usually a lot sooner.

It should be known that the perceived value can absolutely work against you. There are performers out there who spend thousands of dollars on top quality websites, advertising materials, search engine optimization, and promotional videos, but when you see them live, you are quickly hit with just how bad they are. This happens quite a bit, especially amongst the younger generation of performers. Video editing software and the right person behind the keyboard can make anyone look amazing. Do not let the perceived value of a performer determine whether or not you want to book them. Use that information as a reference to what you can probably (not always) expect when the show begins. Focus on referrals, reviews (from real people), media write-ups, and recommendations from friends or family that may have booked entertainment in the past. The best advertising for a performer is word-of-mouth!

Free Work VS Donated Work

Ask any performer how many times they’re offered “great publicity” in exchange for performing for free. It happens to all of us, a lot. I personally am asked to perform for free at least once a week. Nine times out ten I have to decline the event. Entertainers who are starting out may take the booking even though it doesn’t pay. They’re looking for “flight-time” or time in front of a real audience to practice, rehearse material and get comfortable in their field. This is perfectly acceptable and should be encouraged to young or new performers. However, a professional entertainer, be it a magician, mentalist, juggler or human blockhead, will probably not take a free show in exchange for an ad in the magazine, free publicity, or free food.

Almost all of us entertain as a full-time job. We work solely as performers and we expect to be paid for our time, just as you expect to be paid where you work. You will probably insult a performer if you offer publicity in exchange for money they’d use to pay bills and buy food. After all, you found us so the publicity is already working right?

Now when it comes to donated work, it’s a much different story. At least for me. Please be aware I am not speaking for ALL performers working. Everyone is different and structures his business differently. Some performers will probably not agree with things in this article and it’s totally fine! Donating our time to a cause is something in which a lot of us take great pride. Every year I donate at least 10 hours of performing to various charities around New England. These are ones that are very close to me, such as The American Cancer Society, Horizons for Homeless Children and The American Red Cross. I love giving my time to these organizations and being a small part of making a difference. We entertainers are all full of emotion and big hearts and we love to see the expression of happiness on people’s faces who otherwise would be sad or in pain.

Be aware of your situation when offering an event to a performer for very little or no money. If it’s a cause that we believe in and we can spare the time on our schedules, we will jump at the chance. If not, please do not take it personally and understand we need to work and earn as much as possible in order to keep providing entrainment to people around the world.

Contracts, Invoices, Agreements, Riders

The boring details of the booking process, lots of invoices, contracts and specifications that almost every performer requires are vital to the quality of the performance. Contracts are absolutely essential for a performer to have, and we will use them for the smallest to the largest event. Most of us have had the experience of “being burned” on bookings because we didn’t have an agreement in place. We learn quickly (well most of us do) and adopt the contract policy to ALL bookings, even donated time bookings. Do not take offense if your children’s magician requires a contract for his performance.

Most of us keep very detailed records of every gig we work. Invoices, contracts and emails are all essential pieces of material for our tax purposes, marketing strategies, and general peace of mind. I personally require a contract, invoice and performance rider for my shows. Most of the points in my agreements do not apply to every single show. However, a lot of the time they do. If we ask for a table or access to plugs, that the windows be closed, or that we’re in the shade if outdoors, understand these are important factors that will go into the quality of our performances. We can usually perform in most places under most conditions, but some entertainers can not be indoors without proper licensing (such as people who work with fire or dangerous objects) or outdoors without a tent or waterproof area. Basically, it’s common sense. The DJ you hired for your daughter’s wedding will not want to work in the middle of the sun for five hours with hundreds of feet of extension cords running all over your event. Plan accordingly and your event will be a huge success!

Understanding What You’re Paying For

I know I have covered this in earlier points but it is very important to understand what you’re actually paying for when booking a performer. Remember we spend years and years perfecting our skills to make them look flawless when showtime comes. Some of us live far away from your venue and have to travel quite a distance to get to the gig. I personally drive about 35,000 miles a year just for performances, and fly about 40,000. We spend a lot of our time in airports, cars and traffic! Our fees are constructed by us based on what we believe our performances are worth. This includes the years of practice, travel to and from the event, all the work we do before the show itself, what kind of event it is, and how popular and in demand we are. Cheaper does NOT mean better!

Paying Your Entertainer(s)

I would say I’ve waited probably two years’ worth of days on being paid for some events. That does not happen anymore. It is not acceptable to make a performer wait longer than the agreed upon time of payment. As I said before, we are full time entertainers and expect to be paid before or immediately after we perform. Our shows are all one-of-a-kind demonstrations and no show is the same (at least as a mentalist). So what you’re getting is a totally unique experience. A good way of looking at it is this: If you worked for a week straight and your boss said “Sorry, but would it be okay if we paid you in three weeks for this week?” You would probably lose your sh*t. That is exactly how we feel when we have to wait for payment for our services. We arrived on time, performed, and were professional, and we expect to be paid accordingly.

It is customary to pay an entertainer prior to the start of the performance. Most of us require a deposit of some kind along with our contract or invoice signed. Those who don’t require a deposit (well, they should) should be paid in full on the day of the event. Please be aware of this when hiring entertainment for your next party. Not only will your performer thank you kindly, he or she will be sure to make your event a huge success.

Tipping: Gratuity for a performer, DJ, or artist lets us know you really enjoyed our work. We do not factor gratuity into our fees (at least I and my friends don’t) so any extra tip you have for us will be greatly appreciated. Don’t be afraid of what to give for a tip – we are grateful you thought of it at all. Most people don’t usually think to tip entertainment, so when it comes we are always very happy. This is especially important amongst entertainers you didn’t book, like street performers and carnival or fair artists. Most of them accept tips and some get paid ONLY in tips. Keep that in mind after you watch the street performers in Fanueil Hall in Boston during the spring and summer months.

That should give you a pretty good understanding on how to go about booking live entertainment for your next event. Remember, not all of these points are followed by every performer and some will require things not listed here. If you like them, and they have great references, work with them and you will have the best event possible.