So far, we’ve mostly covered the ins and outs of booking celebrities for public events. And as the last few chapters have demonstrated, there are some instances where a public event isn’t going to land you the celebrity you’re looking for.
And while these are important considerations for public events, that doesn’t mean the celebrities who won’t do them are completely off-limits; in fact, many celebrities who refuse to do public events don’t have a problem with attending private events. Specific types of private events can vary; some examples are corporate parties, birthday parties, or weddings. One notable exception are fraternity or sorority events, where the celebrity shows up at a party, performs (in some cases), and hangs out with the guests- although they’re technically private parties, they’re usually priced differently and the expectations are different as well. In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at private events.
The process of booking a celebrity for a private party is pretty much the same as that of booking a celebrity for a public one. You’ll need to know your budget for the event and how much you can spend on a celebrity booking, reach out to their representation (either directly or through a middle agent or talent buyer), make an offer, and handle all the logistics along the way.
One major difference between booking celebrities for public vs. private events is that when it comes to a private party, you can’t use the potential for exposure and free publicity as leverage in a negotiation. For example, let’s say a celebrity has a new business venture they want to promote, and they’re offered a booking at a public event and a private party. In a lot of cases, assuming they’re getting paid roughly the same amount, they’ll pick the public event. Why? Because the public event means there will be press, photographs, and a greater opportunity for them to promote their latest project. At a private event, they won’t have that chance.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that any celebrity who wants publicity is automatically off-limits. But it does mean that you’ll have to sweeten the deal in other ways if you want to book them. With that in mind, here are a few of the things you need to remember when trying to book a celebrity for a private event.
The Cost Will Be Higher
It’s an inescapable fact that you’re going to have to pay more to book a celebrity for a private event. There are a couple reasons why: first, as mentioned above, the lack of free publicity at a private party means they’ll want to make sure it’s worth their time to attend your event.
Second, if you’re targeting a celebrity who doesn’t feel the publicity is necessary, it probably means that they’re usually not interested in attending events. This, of course, means that you’ll have to make a higher offer to get them to agree; even if they normally aren’t willing to attend events, there are very few celebrities who will turn away huge sums of money. For example, even though she doesn’t normally do public events, Jennifer Lopez has performed at private parties in the past (she reportedly accepted $1 million to perform at the birthday party of Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in 2013).
In some cases, the cost for booking a celebrity for a private event can be as much as twice what you might pay for a public party. So if you’ve got your heart set on a particular celebrity to attend your private party, be prepared to shell out a lot of money in order to get them to agree.
One other note: even though you’ll be paying more for a private event, you’ll still have to make sure that you cover all their normal expenses (travel for the celebrity and their group, accommodations, food/drinks, and transportation). Unfortunately, that increased cost of booking the celebrity doesn’t mean you get to save money elsewhere.
The Celebrity is (Usually) Willing to Do More
Even though it typically costs more to book a celebrity for a private event, one big difference between private and public events is that the celebrity is willing to do more for the extra money. Because it’s a private event (which means there’s no press), the celebrity doesn’t have to worry as much about their image and brand, and you’ll often find that they’re more willing to do things they wouldn’t normally do at a public event.
A great example of this is Weird Al Yankovic, who agreed to walk a bride down the aisle at a wedding. While this level of interaction between the celebrity and the guests is almost nonexistent at a public event, it’s much more common at a private party. Of course, this also depends on the celebrity and the event; after all, Rihanna likely wouldn’t do the same at a wedding (but then again, Rihanna likely wouldn’t agree to attend a private wedding unless she was offered an obscene amount of money). In a lot of cases, though, you’ll find the celebrities are much more willing to play a more active role in a private event than they might at a public one.
You’ll Have More Options
Finally, even though the price is typically higher for private events, one positive is that you’ll have a lot more options when it comes to booking celebrities for your event. As mentioned above, there are a lot of celebrities who have no interest in public events but are happy to attend private parties. So if you have the budget for it and are willing to spend extra for that one perfect celebrity to attend, you have a much better shot at landing them for a private party.
If you’re looking for a musician or band to perform at your event, you’ll also find a lot of options available to you. Plenty of artists who aren’t as popular as they were in their prime are still willing to do performances at private events; in fact, a lot of them make the bulk of their money from private events. And in some cases, they’re cheaper than newer, more popular artists.
Nostalgia also plays a big role when it comes to booking artists. For example, you can book Stevie Nicks for $300,000 for a private event performance, and while that price tag may seem steep, remember that Jennifer Lopez reportedly charged $5 million for a similar arrangement at the wedding of Said Gutseriyev and Khadija Uzhakhovs (the groom’s father is a prominent Russian oil magnate). Of course, this depends on how nostalgic your audience is – if they aren’t, booking an old-school artist might not be a great way to spend your money, but if they are, it’s a much more cost-effective option.
As we’ve shown, although they may seem similar, there is a big difference between public and private events. The main difference is cost, but factors like who you’re able to book and what the celebrity is willing to do can change wildly depending on whether the event is public or private.
Now that we’ve covered these major differences, let’s take a look at some of the details that can make or break an event, whether it’s public or private. Specifically, we’ll address understanding celebrity booking agreements.