If you don’t deal with entertainment regularly then you probably don’t know where to start when shopping for a wedding band or a juggler or a fortune teller for your party. Maybe you google “Wedding band NYC” and of course you’re immediately assaulted with a list of agents and party bands and you really have no idea where to begin. So where do the professional event planners go when they need quality entertainment that won’t flake on them?
Booking Agents: These folks make a business out of matching events with a suitable entertainer. They will do all of this work for you, and be able to present you with videos of the entertainers they represent. A standard commission is 15% which may be paid by the entertainer or it might be paid by you. Often times agents simply markup the price that the entertainer is charging them to whatever they think they can get from the client. In certain extreme cases this markup is as high as 100% or more, but those cases would be outliers. This doesn’t mean that you should not use an agent. A good entertainment agency will save you time and will know exactly the right match for your party and only offers professional entertainers with proven track records. But understand that by using a agent, you are paying for their time and knowledge above the price of the talent.
Entertainment listing services: These are websites that allow entertainers to list their services and upload photos, and audio and video clips. They structure it in a database so that when you, the client, are looking for say, a Billy Joel impersonator, you type that in, along with your city, and you will have access to all the local talent, in a very orderly format. The second way it works is for you to give all the details of your job, and then the local entertainers would send you price quotes. These listing services usually offer reviews from past clients. My favorite ones are GigMasters and GigSalad. GigMasters even allows you to pay the entertainers through their website but takes a 5% commission to do so.
Referrals: Professional planners will ask around in their network to see if anyone has, for example, a great party band in NYC. Often times they will post these requests online in an appropriate Linked In group such as “Event Planners in NYC” or even post a notice in their Facebook profile. Suppose you are a bride seeking a dueling piano show for your NY wedding, ask your Facebook friends if anyone knows a good dueling show. Most likely they will probably tell you to go…um…HERE
Google: Yes, Professional planners still use google if they have a very specific request that can’t wait for referrals or agents to call back and may not be listed on GigMasters. If you’re willing to put in just a little bit of time going through the resulting websites, you will be connected directly to the entertainer. But how can you tell if they are the real deal? How do you know if they will show up? Well that’s a post for next week.