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Corporate Gig Agents

Yesterday I focused on college booking strategies and how to get in with a booking agency that specialized in fraternity and sorority parties. Today I want to focus on the second of four kinds of booking agencies that I outlined in yesterday's blog post. The second is the corporate party band agency that focuses on booking show bands for high-dollar gigs, along with weddings or other special events held in ballrooms and country clubs, rarely in a nightclub.

Now, as I said yesterday, sometimes you'll find agencies that mix all kinds of booking services, but my experience has been that an agency either focuses on one kind of client, or has their clients serviced by different agents within the agency. Today, I'm talking "show bands." A show band is a whole other breed apart from bands that would gig at a frat party or college club. Often these bands are assembled by the agency themselves and "owned" by the agent, with the agent recruiting the members of the band, creating larger or small versions of the acts as need, even spinning some of them off into separate bands when business is good.

A wonderful example of this is my first agent, Tip Top Attractions in Mobile, AL. I talked about them in an earlier post. They have a show band, The Tip Tops, which has had a couple of core members for years, but other personnel come and go with time. These bands are started by the agent, their wardrobe/uniforms as set by the agent, the whole look, package and set-lists are determined by the agent based on what he is selling to his clients. The clients are typically corporations having annual holiday parties or conventions, or wedding receptions. An agency like Tip Top will represent other acts but not necessarily exclusively, working with their clients to get acts the client requests, but often networking with other agents to get their client the act for their event. 

If you have a solo act, as I did, you can't expect much work if any from an agent like Tip Top Attractions. If you are a college party band, same thing. Where you stand a chance with an agent like Tip Top is if you've got a well-groomed, professional appearing and talented dance band that plays hits from the 50's through the 21st century, with horn sections, backing vocalists, flashy stage clothes and willingness to take requests from the patron who hired you. Mostly R&B dance tunes, we're talking "Let's Groove Tonight" and "We Are Family" and "Freak Out," not Nickelback and Nirvana. Another popular kind of music for these kind of agents to book is "Carolina Beach Music" which ironically has nothing to do with the beach. Think "Under the Boardwalk" and you're in the right ballpark.

The customer type hiring these kinds of acts is really not interested in your original music, don't care if you have a CD out or have opened for anyone famous, they just want a quality act that can entertain their group for whom you've been hired. Play an original song at one of these events and odds are folks will use that as a chance to hit the restroom or get another drink. Don't take it personally, that's just how it is. They are at that event to socialize with each other, dance and you're providing a service for the event. You're not there to be an artist, you're there to be a service provider.

Quite often these agent-owned show bands are on some kind of small retainer and then paid a little more per gig, with all expenses being covered by the agency. And while I'm not speaking for Tip Top here, in general these kind of gigs can be very lucrative. Its not unusual for top corporate party bands to play "fly-dates" with back-line equipment provided by the customer's party planner, where the act flies in a for one-nighter at a rich person's wedding or other event, and these fees can be, believe it or not, upwards of $25,000.00 a show. I know, sounds crazy, but it happens every week in this country, party bands playing balls, weddings, or other events for that kind of money. 

So, do yourself a favor and don't try to sell your act to the wrong kind of agent. You'll be wasting your time if you do. Again, visiting an agency's website will tell you all you need to know about them and if what you do is a good fit. 


Posted: 12/30/2008 10:22:58 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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