Like any “industry”, the value of an artist depends on many variables:
- How big a name that artist is already in Israel, but also-
- What kind of audience a name act will draw in your community
- If the artist has other options for that period of time they might increase their fee accordingly.
All too often, novice promoters begin their contact with the artist or their representative by asking: “How much?” This is by far the least productive move you can make and it will always diminish your leverage in the negotiation process. The secret is that the fee you offer is always relative, and there is never any singular price that the artist takes. By asking “How much?” you are essentially saying to the artist or their representative, “Please tell me in your wildest dreams how much you would like me to pay you for your performance”.
Some Israeli artists may request much higher performance fee’s to perform abroad because they think that the community will pay no matter what they ask. This isn’t the case nor should it be. All too often the process of making and receiving offers gets halted because both the community promoter and the artist doesn’t know how much they should ask for, “What is too high? What is too low?” in order to make a firm offer/inquiry, you must follow a few guidelines and answer a few questions both to yourself and the artist:
- Do I have a budget in place for this event? If yes, how much is it and what are the overall costs of bringing an artist to perform? (It is not just about the fee but the other expenses as well)
- I know I don’t have a budget in place for the artist yet, but I can probably get one. I need to know what the artist will charge in order for me work out the total overall costs for this event, so I can’t make a real offer yet until I have some type of reference point as to what the artist will cost.
AN EXAMPLE OF AN OFFER:
Name of Artist:
Date or Time Period You Would Like to Present: (Be as specific as possible/If you are flexible on the actual date, you will have more leverage later on)
Name of City/Venue/Address:
Capacity: (This has to do with the total gross capacity of the venue that you are looking to present your engagement, if the venue is seated vs general admission- make this clear)
Average Ticket Price: (This is crucial- the artist will base their response to your offer on if they think there is a lot of money to be made by them performing, if your event is free and open to the public, then you will put FREE)
Fee Offered: (You will either write TBD- if you don’t know what you can afford, or you will place an actual fee that you are will/able to pay for the performance here)*
Name of Presenter: (Your Name or the Organization You Represent)
Sponsorship: You will be expected to include names of sponsors that will be tagged to the event- if you don’t have any sponsorship on board yet, but are working on it- you can always write TBD
Additional: (In this section you should include any comments about the event that you think would be important for the artist to know about. For example:
- Is this a party for the general public?
- Is this for a community holiday party?
- Do you want the artist to give a workshop while they are in your community?
- Do you prefer the event to be acoustic?
- Will there be other acts in the line up? What are their names?
The more serious your offer/inquiry is structured, the easier it will be for the artist/representative to give you a firm answer, quickly.
If you send an email to the artist with the following information, you have just done 90% of the work when it comes to negotiating and finalizing an agreeable fee.
Israeli artists have a tendency to request that the travel party or the band’s “production” cover travel costs not only for the performing musicians and tour manager, but also a sound man, a lighting expert, a backliner, and sometimes their relatives!
It is your responsibility to negotiate fewer people in the entourage, as you are the person who must pay for each person to travel (often times transatlantic flights which aren’t cheap). You are not obligated to bring all of these additional people to the concert, even though the artist may insist and cause a fuss.
If you can provide a professional local sound man at the venue, backliner, lighting person (usually the guy that works at the venue, who’s job is to push between 10-15 buttons all night long), etc. the artist has no reason to ask that the traveling party be increased, and that they can’t simply perform without them.
A tour manager is typically the only acceptable additional personnel that you can’t really forgo, as their job is to mind the band and represent the artist during the production.
By reducing the traveling party, you are seriously reducing your overall budget expense. If the artist insists on their additional personnel traveling with them, you can suggest that they cover those costs out of their performance fee. Keep in mind, your ability to negotiate the total travel party is limited to whether or not you really want this particular artist to perform or not, there are many A list performers that will refuse to get on stage without their entire entourage (minus the relatives of course).
You should stick to your guns as much as reasonably possible: Showing flexibility in some instances creates goodwill in other instances. You can agree to include travel for a soundman, but ask more of the artist (for example to do a private reception for VIPS before the event), or offer the artists a smaller fee in lieu of the extra flight ticket, or both!
You should always ask the artist/representative the following questions:
- How many people are in the band? What instruments do they play?
- How many additional people are you asking to be included in the production? (They will probably tell you anyways before you ask)
- What are the functions of these additional people?
Size of Band
Sometimes (not always) it is possible to ask the act, especially when it is a solo artist, to reduce the support musicians they perform with to a skeleton group. If a singer suggests that they typically perform with 8 other musicians- this may be true in Israel, but in Chicago, it would probably not be possible to have 9 people on stage and cover the costs of travel, and production.
Many big name talents, have alternative versions of their performances and can accommodate smaller budgets. In some cases it works, in others it doesn’t – keep in mind – having 3 people perform an small acoustic set in a venue that normally holds 1,500 people will reduce costs but probably end with a poor performance and even worse reception by the audience.