Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: how much to book mid level to top acts

  1. #1
    Registered User drewgrass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    north of space
    Posts
    203

    Default how much to book mid level to top acts

    ok, i live in a small town. of about 1500 people. our main attraction is a canyon state park. its a pretty good size with alot of camping area. ready to go electricity bathrooms etc. at least room for 75 rv's maybe more. and tons of area for people roughing it. its almost four miles long. and half a mile wide at points.with the bad economy alot of people have been coming from surronding citys for vacation here, this last year. for the last few years, they have had a guitar festival that lasted 1-2 days with no known acts just local bands. no real promotion. and had around 1200 a day at one point. while not involved with local politics, i have alot of friends who are. the town has money. (please just a ball park figure) how much are top acts like say daily and vincent. peter rowan, tony rice, del m'coury, ricky skaggs,and rhonda vincent. to book the bigger acts. then guys like IIIrd tyme out junior sisk, michael cleaveland and flame keeper. you know acts that are well known in bluegrass circles. and then fill it out with regional and local bands. maybe have a headliner and mid level act for friday and saturday night. i also know a respected bluegrass musician, who may be willing to help me get this going. and one of my best friends owns a live sound reinforcement company. its just a great spot.

  2. #2
    Registered User fredfrank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    1,520
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    I think most all the artists you mentioned have contact or representation information on their web sites. Just a wild guess. I'm thinkin' Ricky's gonna be the most money.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
    Posts
    1,629

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    Simplest thing to do is contact the artists' booking agents to find out what they're asking. Most of the artists you list have websites where they tell you who their booking agent is and how to contact him/her/them.

    A lot of it depends on how well a gig in your area will fit into the band's schedule: it's a lot easier (and less expensive) to book a band at the beginning/end of "the festival season", or if getting to/from your location is quick/cheap, than it is to book the same artist at the height of the season, or if getting to you would involve a lot of travel time and $$ on their part.

    I know a lot of bands that are willing to play shows relatively inexpensively to "fill in" what would otherwise be an empty night on a tour, but it sounds like you're thinking of a weekend (Fri-Sat), which generally command the most money.
    EdSherry

  4. #4
    Registered User Jim Gallaher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Staunton, VA
    Posts
    322

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    My city has a weekly bluegrass show during the summer in the local park (one night, Wednesday). I know from talking with the promoter (Parks & Rec department) that final contract prices can vary considerably from the artist agent's initial asking price due to artist availability, day of the week, expected crowd size, time of year and artist word-of-mouth.

    Performing mid-week during touring season is generally cheaper. A large crowd is much more conducive to CD sales for the artist and that will offset a lower performance fee.

    You may have to concentrate on just a few "name acts" in the beginning, but if you put on a well-attended, well-planned event the word travels very quickly through the artist community. Don't forget that agents often represent more than one artist and will be willing to cut a deal on their "up-and-comer" when you call about their "headliner".

    I hesitate to name prices for artists, because it doesn't seem to be "hard-and-fast" for anyone but the headliners (Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Del McCoury, etc.). I would advise your talent coordinator to "work the phones" and be ready to haggle. You don't always get the artist you want with a single phone call. Be pleasant, professional and give a little when you need to close the deal. It's not uncommon for a mid-level artist or his/her agent to cut their price in half in the end if the date fits with their business plan.
    "Got time to breathe, got time for music" -- Briscoe Darling

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    New Providence, NJ
    Posts
    45

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    The short answer: It depends!

    As mentioned above, find out who represents the artist and contact them.
    The first booking is the hardest since you have minimal track record.

    In general: weekends are more expensive than weeknights (Sunday PM
    sometime can be had cheaper). If the artist is "in the area" you can get
    them cheaper than if you are the only show nearby.

    A trick to try is: find an artist that has gigs scheduled within a couple
    hundred miles of you with a couple day break in between. Make a low offer
    for on of those "off nights" Many times a band will play a show for
    less (especially if you can throw in food/lodgind) than their normal rate in
    that situation since a small payday is better than no payday...

    Friends of mine in Indiana do that alot for artists playing the Chicago area
    and then heading to Ohio/Kentucky/St. Louis, Memphis, etc.

    Solo shows are much cheaper than group. We had Peter Ostroushko last
    year with a $1200 guarantee. Beppe Gambetta (guitar) goes around $1000
    Jay Unger/Molly Mason are in the $1300-$1500 range... All of these have
    backend splits where the artist gets more once the house expenses (guarantee, publicity, hall, sound, etc) are covered. It also depends on the
    size of the hall, length of show etc. The above were for 2, 50 minute sets in
    a 200 seat hall, Tickets in the $15 range. This was a "all volunteer" venue,
    so expenses were on the low end.

  6. #6
    Registered User drewgrass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    north of space
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    yeah i figured i should, just contact the booking agents. if i do this it will be a year from this spring anyway. i know alot goes into it but the infastructure a good size stage is there already forgot to mention that. and the sound company is a call away. i know organizing a event cant be easy. but this would be about a easy as you could do it.

  7. #7
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Madison, Ct
    Posts
    2,300

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    Having done this for close to ten years now, I can give you a bit of advice and some numbers that you'll be up against. Contact me off-forum, directly, so as not to annoy any of the agents I deal with. The short answer to your question is this, though: For the names you mention, you'll probably only be able to afford just one main act, and a number of smaller fillers. The rest will have to be locals who play for no money, just recognition. For the one main act, 5 fillers, sound guys, parking guys, police guys, ambulance guys, clean-up, dumpsters, port-o-potties, promotional expenses, etc (even with tons of volunteers) you'd better have $100,000 in the bank before you even get started. And also be prepared to lose the whole thing. Rain insurance is nice, but VERY pricey. Don't forget that the artists will get GUARANTEED cash, not some sort of "let's see how attendance is" thing. They won't cut you any breaks, they'll just play somewhere else, or stay home with their own families. With great attendance, the first year, you may only lose half that. It takes a while to get the audience built up. Figure 5 years to really build audience loyalty.

    You need to look critically at how many people will take the trek to your town. Look VERY CAREFULLY at competing festivals already booked. You do NOT want to compete with established festivals.

    Most agents will say, in an unguarded moment, that right now there are too many festivals and venues to support themselves. I'm looking right now at a January schedule in New England where there are about ten venues on one weekend all hosting artists playing at the APAP conference in New York. The artists and agents are cannibalizing off each other, and in speaking with other promotors, there are going to be a few surprises for the artists next year. Attendance at most every performing arts center around the country has been drifting off the past year, and as endowments are running out, this will be the toughest spring seen in many, many years for arts centers. Hell, even Carnegie Hall has cut many dates.

    That said, you could probably make this very successful event after the smoke and rubble has cleared. Take a couple of years to plan carefully. This is no Mickey Rooney "let's get a barn and put on a show" stuff. The agents won't take you seriously unless you have a lot of sponsors already lined up, and cash in the bank guaranteeing everything. Don't waste their time until then.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    904

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    The best deal you're gonna get is getting an artist on their way through who just wants to fill thier schedule. The most expensive set is going to be the first one, extra sets after that are usually a lot less since they are already there... and be prepared to pay for their flight and hotel costs. Some bands will pay for their flights... and accomodations can be negotiated somewhat. We put up the main headliner at our festival every year in a very nice home and thus save on the hotel fees. Some bands won't do that though. I was really suprised at the difference in cost out there. One that suprised me was Mike Schnieder. We wanted him for fri-sun and they told me 20k. Dan Tyminski wanted 10k plus flight/hotel for one day. Longview (one of my favs) wanted 15k plus hotel/travel for three days. I would imagine Rhonda is somewhere around there too. Ricky Skaggs? I'm sure they are well into the 20k range for one day, maybe more... as well as Del Mccoury and I imagine Dailey and Vincent isn't cheap either but they are top notch and worth the price. There are some great deals out there though, bands like Sierra Hull and Highway 111, JD Crowe and the New South, Audey Blaylock and Redline, etc. Bands that are top notch but maybe don't have quite the same "Star" power as some of the other bands. We booked Grasstowne this past year for a VERY reasonable rate and couldn't have been happier! Alan Bibey is a pleasure to work with!
    This coming year we booked Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper for about the same $$. I don't want to give too many specifics because these bands may be raising their rates but I will say that we could never afford to hire a band for 15k.
    We have also gotten some absolute STEALS! One year we hired a MAJOR headliner for $750 for one set just because they were going to be around that day. We have also hired some really great national bands for 3-4k for the entire weekend so there are a lot of options. If you're not fixed hard and fast on a specific band you can put on a first rate festival without having to mortgage your home (I know some people who have done this!).
    Whoever you hire, make sure you treat the bands like family and present them well to the audience.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Just outside Austin Texas.
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    I went to a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter's concert at a private home here in Austin, TX. The supporting (locally renowned) band included mando, fiddle, cello and bass. Musicians had to drive at least an hour to get to the venue.

    40 seats at $40/ticket, volunteer labor.

    I felt incredibly fortunate to hear great music in such an intimate setting.

  10. #10
    Registered User Dan Johnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Jericho, VT
    Posts
    246

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    I'm finding this to be an interesting thread. I'd like to add, though, that my favorite festivals aren't the ones with a 7 figure budget or whatever. They're the ones where I see the samepeople every year and maybe one or two acts who can teach the old dogs a few new tricks. Small scale patronage, big time fun. Something to consider as you plan what sounds like a good time.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    904

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    I have to add a correction to my earlier post... JD CRowe is definitely a huge star and a banjo icon, it just seemed that he was a good deal when I talked with his booking agent.

  12. #12
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Madison, Ct
    Posts
    2,300

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    I'm really liking Dan's love of small festivals. My favorite is Champlain Valley. Keep the costs low, and over a few years you can build up the talent, but you'll be surprised how many "name" acts you need; as in very few. Maybe just one headliner, and they don't need to be the Cadillac, either. Some of the younger guys bring a lot of energy to stage, and you'll be surprised how crowded the side tents get when a relative unknown is really cooking. You also will get much greater satisfaction helping the young guns to get some exposure, and more importantly still, your financial exposure is far less.

    One question: how remote is your location? Strictly from a demographic standpoint, are there 10,000 interested people within a 2-3 hour drive? 5000? 2000? Not all 10,000 are going to make it, but if you only have a couple of thousand who you can count on making it, banking on a lot of people making it a destination from a long distance is tough, especially the first few years. Keep in mind that almost every summer weekend there's already a "big name" festival on the summer schedule for a lot of folks.

    This doesn't mean that it's impossible to pull off, by any means, and this is a great year to lay the groundwork. You just need to be a little creative, and give the festival a theme which doesn't compete with other festivals. This may mean that trying to stay all bluegrass is tough. There are a lot of great old-time bands around, commanding far less. Look north of the border, if the border's close. Canada's got some killer talent. Texas swing? Who doesn't love that!!??

    Again, Dan's idea is great. Go for intimate. I'm always turned off by festivals where the audience is separated from the players. When I do go to those, I'm usually always at a workshop tent, or one of the side tents, where I can get really close.

    The other good news is other people's bad news. The economy is already affecting the guarantee a lot of the mid-range acts can get. The upper echelon is safe, but the mid-level guys are playing in a very crowded field right now, the presenters are running out of reserve capital, so you'll be able to work some pretty creative deals when you're ready. But remember, cash is king, so make sure there's a good chunk in the bank so everyone takes you seriously, otherwise the agents will balk at committing their artists to a weekend that might not work out.

  13. #13

    Default Re: how much to book mid level to top acts

    This is all good advice. As everyone has noted, there are lots of variables and sometimes you can get a major act for much less than you'd expect, if you're lucky enough to be between (in both date and location) two gigs they already have. But any way you look at it, a festival with multiple acts and at least one or two big names is a huge, expensive undertaking. You need a lot of contacts and a lot of volunteers, along with a lot of money.

    Another option, to test the waters, is to book one "name" band for a single concert, maybe with one or two local or regional bands to open, and see what kind of turn-out you get. You still have to be ready to write the check, regardless of attendance, but it's a much smaller risk (and takes way less work) to rent a local auditorium or meeting room (try high schools, colleges, churches, community centers) and put on one concert. Try a mid-week date if that gives you more availability (and a lower price) for the room and for the band. Put a ton of effort into PR -- no one comes to an event that they don't know about. Hit all the local radio stations, especially country stations or public/community stations with folk or bluegrass shows. Print up flyers and leave them everywhere: libraries, music stores, other concert venues of all kinds, every grocery store with a bulletin board, etc. At the concert, put out a clipboard and ask audience members to write down their e-mail address and/or postal address to be notified about future events of the same kind. That builds a database of potential attendees for future concerts and, eventually, a festival. You may also be able to build up a group of volunteers who would help out for any future events, small or big.

    If you do plan a festival, pick your dates carefully and do some homework about any other major activities (not just bluegrass festivals) for a hundred miles around your location. If the neighboring town has a popular art festival the same weekend, or a film festival, or an arena that's presenting Bruce Springsteen that week, all of the PR and attention will go to that other event. You want to be *the* event of that weekend so the newspapers and radio stations will give you the maximum space.

    Lastly, figure out a way to sell advance tickets (ideally online as well as via local businesses). There are always people who will plan to go, but either won't be able to at the last minute (in which case you still have their $) or who might change their mind and do something else (in which case, if they've already paid for the ticket, they're more likely to go to your festival after all).

    Good luck!
    Bob Blackman
    Former host of "The Folk Tradition," WKAR-FM
    East Lansing, MI

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •