Artist bookings are a great way to boost the profile of an event and take it from just another party to a star-studded affair. Depending on the celebrity, the cost of booking a celebrity can rise dramatically, and for event planners on a budget, that extra cost might not be affordable. Luckily, there are some ways you can save money on an artist booking — let’s take a look at a few options.
Consider Different Arrangements
Despite what you may think, booking a celebrity doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the celebrity does a performance at your event. There are plenty of event planners who couldn’t afford the cost of a performance, but still want the celebirty to attend. How? By working out alternative agreements with the celebrity. Here are a few you can try to lower your costs.
If a performance is going to pose too much of a logistical challenge for you (especially considering all the equipment the artist will likely need to perform), you might want to try a hosting arrangement. Hosting deals require the artist to spend a significant amount of time at the event; they usually act as an emcee, and when they’re not doing that, they’ll be engaging with guests.
Many celebrities are looking to Djing as another option of performing at nightclubs ex. Paris Hilton), and some prefer doing this. The celebrity is still providing entertainment, but with a DJ set, the burden isn’t on them to make sure they have a great performance and entertain the crowd.
Another great thing about DJ sets is that the audience gets an inside look at the artist’s influences, since the artist will typically play songs that resonate with or inspire them. A DJ set is definitely a good alternative, and it’ll save you some money to boot.
If you’re really strapped for cash but think the event could use a boost from a famous guest, an appearance or walkthrough arrangement could be a great option. Making an appearance depends a lot on the specific celebrity you’re targeting, but in most cases an appearance fee requires the celebrity to hang out at your event for a set amount of time and mingle with guests.
Walkthroughs are the cheapest option, and while you get what you pay for, they can be a good way to save some dough. A walkthrough is basically a much shorter version of an appearance: the celebrity will show up at the event, walk around for a little bit (typically not more than 30 minutes to an hour), then leave. In some cases, the celebrity might mingle with guests, but that’s entirely up to them.
If the artist you’re targeting isn’t willing to do a performance, you should consider hiring them to host an afterparty at another location. Since afterparties typically don’t run as long as the event itself, you’ll save a little money on the hosting cost. And as an added benefit, it will allow you to utilize the built-in publicity and momentum from their tour to promote your event and get more people in the door.
Depending on the amount of effort required by the artist, some of these arrangements will be more expensive than others. But if you’re hoping to shave a few crucial dollars off your budget, these options can be great alternatives to a traditional performance agreement.
Time Your Event
One of the costs that tend to add up is the cost of the artist’s travel. Since artists’ contracts typically set a minimum standard for their travel and accommodations (plus the travel and accommodations of everybody who comes with them), you’ll have to spend a fair amount of money to keep them satisfied. Most artists will expect a 4- or 5-star hotel with certain amenities in the artists rider contract, so contractually, you’ll have to pay for the level of accommodations they expect as a condition of their performance.
One way to save money here is to time the event. If an artist is currently on tour or about to begin a tour, take a look at the dates when they’ll be in your area and see if you can get them to add an appearance at your event on an off night. If they’re already touring, you’ll still be responsible for hotel and other travel costs, but since touring artists work their way through a particular area at a time, you’ll spend less on their travel costs.
And speaking of timing…
Be Flexible On Your Dates
This one may be easier said than done, but if you have any flexibility on the date of your event, it’s always worth seeing if certain dates will cost less money than others. If the artist has a jam-packed schedule (or is currently touring in a different part of the country), their time is at a premium, which means you can expect to pay more for them to attend your event.
Sometimes being a little flexible on the date of your event can save you a lot of money. Depending on your event, this may not be feasible, but if you do have the flexibility to shift your event, it’s worth asking the artist’s representatives if there are any dates that would cost you less money.
Negotiate Their Rates
Finally, always try negotiating the artist’s rate, even if the quote you received fits into your budget. This is pretty straightforward, but you’d be surprised how many event planners ignore it — sometimes planners are so relieved just to secure an artist for an event that they end up accepting whatever price the artist’s agent offers. But by doing that, not only are they potentially overspending on this event, they’re also establishing a precedent with that agent that they’ll pay whatever they’re asked to pay for all future events.
For starters, when you’re reaching out to an artist’s agent, don’t make your first offer your best one; instead, set a limit on how much you can spend, then take 10% off that number and make that your first offer. That way, if the artist’s team pushes back, you’ve left yourself some room to negotiate. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away from a negotiation if it seems like you’re not going to reach an agreeable number; remember, you have a budget, and there are other artists out there.
Putting on an event takes a lot of time, effort, and money. But if you use these tips, you’ll find yourself spending a lot less of all three on an event you can be proud of.