Well with Brexit looming (or is it?) and sheer anger from
voters changing the face of the local elections, we’re all wondering what
really is going to happen to the entertainment business in the next few
months/years ahead. Well… I think I can tell you: Not much!!! Yes, there have
been plenty of ups and downs from serious numbers of pub closures, smoking
bans, daft rules re: how many musos/performers can be on a stage, business-rate
rises and more, but the real truth is the business is still here. Granted,
there have been and always will be changes – the business is always in flux. 20
years ago we were booking vast quantities of ‘Irish’ entertainment on the back
of Riverdance. Now that same entertainment is only rolled out in quantity
around St. Patrick’s day. Today it seems that every tribute is itching to get
into their own theatre show (and I wonder how many times a month CAN your
average punter pay good money to see one of the many tribute shows in a
theatre, when they can be free or much cheaper elsewhere?) I’m also aware of
‘non-live’ (i.e. pre-recorded/screened) events happening on cruise ships and
more. And I’m also aware that some mainline artists are now considering rolling
out ‘live’ screened performances (err.. I would call that a film-showing / a
video-screening but probably with a few more bells and whistles – just not with
the actual living, breathing artist on the stage!) Will punters rather pay to
see such an event with a mainline artist than see a tribute in a costume?
Hopefully not for the tributes – but who knows? If thirty years ago when I was
contemplating being an agent, someone told me that a D.J., playing some
background loops paired with a live sax-player riffing over the top could
command proper (and I mean proper!) fees, I would have laughed! So see you next
year (and hopefully the year after etc., etc.) and we’ll ALL (agents, managers,
artists and venues) be doing something similar – although not necessarily the
22.5 GOOD REASONS TO BOOK WITH MBM
- We love the business that we’re in.
- We care about our customers and our artistes.
- Our team has collectively over 60 years experience ‘in the business’.
- We personally audition all of our artistes.
- We have in excess of 30,000 artistes on our national database.
- We book over 50 categories of entertainment Worldwide.
- We supply only tried, tested and reliable artistes.
- Every booking is professionally and legally contracted.
- We have excellent publicity for every artiste.
- We supply posters free of charge for every booking if required.
- We can help manage your social media pages to advertise your events.
- We operate a reliable let down service 24-7.
- All our artistes are required to carry Public Liability Insurance and PAT Certification.
- We operate weekday office hours: 9:30am – 5:30pm.
- Our emergency lines are ALWAYS open. – We have ten-lines to ensure you’ll always connect.
- We operate our business using state-of-the-art telephone and computer booking systems.
- You can see & hear all of our managed artistes on our website.
- MBM is a five man team.
- We’re not too old to be out of touch.
- We’re not too young to understand your needs.
- We don’t mind going the extra mile.
- If you have a problem or need advice, we’re always happy to assist.
22.5 We’re nice even when the going gets tough.
On the 21 st of July 1990, a catalyst for what has become a major part of the entertainment industry aired on televisions across the UK. Although there had already been a smattering of performers imitating ‘pop-stars’ for the previous ten years, ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ was the real kick-starter for the tribute-artiste market, which has since infiltrated every type of venue from the humble street-corner pub to the biggest provincial theatres. The tribute market is so widespread, it is now recognised as a serious financial player in U.K. entertainment and it’s been said that a ‘star’ isn’t a real star until they have spawned a tribute – and these days there are thousands of tributes operating as solo artistes, duos and bands up and down the country almost every night of the week.
When tributes first appeared on the scene they enjoyed a rarefied status and high prices were the norm; most solo tribute-artistes could command fees upwards of £1,000 for a 45-minute show. Today, where for most tributes there is probably more supply than demand, tribute shows have become very affordable. Of course, it’s ‘horses-for-courses’ and most of the time ‘you gets what you pays for’… but by using a reputable agent (like MBM) or dealing direct with the tribute’s own management company (errrr…. That would again be MBM), the chances are you will be getting not just a great show, but some sound advice from people who have been intrinsically involved in the industry for years.
I know we’re always banging on about tribute artists and tribute bands, but as anyone in the live entertainment industry will tell you – they are BIG business. MBM has already organised 4 huge outdoor festivals for 2019 and we are already in discussions with two major festival organisers for 2020. All these are tribute festivals and attract thousands of people during the day and evening. If you have a venue big enough for at least a hundred people or a piece of land that can cater for 1000 to 10,000 people then it’s seriously worth considering putting on a ‘tribute-fest’.
As with any big event the secret is to organise it well in advance – at least 12 to 18 months in advance. There’s a lot to consider and organise so the more time you give yourself the less stressful it will be.
Here is our list of 12 steps to organising your very own music festival.
Why hold a festival? Determine the reasons why you want to organise a festival. Planning an outdoor music festival is such an exciting process: the music, the atmosphere, the weather, the people. To make sure that your music festival is a complete success, follow these tips for a festival that rocks.
- List of artists. Make a list of which artists you would like to appear. Don’t skimp on budget when thinking who the headline act will be. The best won’t be cheap but remember that a great headliner will pull in the big crowds. Think about having an eclectic mix of unsigned, local talent, up-and-coming bands, with a big name or two thrown in if budget allows. There may be downtime between sets, or possibly technical difficulties arise so make sure that you’ve got other non-musical entertainment happening, maybe dance shows, magicians, wandering theatre players, circus performers, kids’ activities or comedy acts.
- Volunteers. Gather together a list of volunteers who want to be involved in creating the festival with you and delegate the responsibilities. A music festival is a team effort and everyone needs to be involved at every stage of the process before the big day.
- Decide on location. If you are a pub with a huge car park that can cater for a few hundred or more – perfect. If you want to go bigger then start looking around at recreational parks, stately homes, farm land and the like.
- Hire the right suppliers. The whole focus of your event is going to be the live music, which means a suitable stage, lighting equipment, and sound equipment. We wouldn’t recommend you try to plan this all on your own, instead use the services of a specialized music production company who’ll know exactly what you’ll need, when you need it, where you’ll need it, and pretty much run the technical side of the event. MBM has an extensive list of tried and tested companies who we could recommend.
- Plan your space. The festival will need enough open space for the stages you need, plus backstage areas, catering vans, portable bathroom facilities, and of course camping if it’s a weekend festival. Don’t forget that you’ll need a fair amount of space between stages if there’s going to be more than one.
- Find Sponsors. Local businesses love to get involved in local festivals. Getting their sponsorship will help offset costs and at the same time be great publicity for everyone involved.
- Get the right permits: You may not realise this, but if your festival is
being held on public land, you’re likely to need a permit. Speak to your local council about what you will need. The last thing you want is to have problems on the day because you don’t have your paperwork in order. Health and safety paperwork, first aid paperwork must be in order. Again the local council will advise you on what you will need.
- Organize entrance: How will entrance to the festival work? What about wristbands, tickets, or hand-stamps and of course security? If your music festival runs for more than one day, people might want to leave and come back in, which is why wristbands are a popular choice when planning an outdoor music festival. Music festival tickets can be pricey, especially if they’re weekend events, so make sure that it’s impossible (or at least very difficult) for people to ‘hop fences’ and get in for free. Not only will it equate to lost revenue if people manage to sneak in, but it could also take the festival capacity over the maximum allowed for health and safety reasons.
- Create a Marketing Strategy Marketing an outdoor festival is the same as marketing other types of events, but you do have extra avenues to explore. Along with social media, local press and media, think about the bands and acts that are performing at the festival. Their fans are going to make up a large part of your audience, so target their fansites as well as your usual outlets.
- Insurance Get yourself some proper EVENT INSURANCE, especially if it’s an outside event. If the weather turns nasty, you still have to pay
everybody with little or no income! A company like MBM can point you towards the people that we use ourselves to ensure that your event stays in the black – no matter how black the weather!
- Prepare Yourself for the Actual Event. This is where the fun starts! The day comes and everything has been planned to perfection. ENJOY!
5 TIPS TO WORKING WITH A PROFESSIONAL AGENT/MANAGER
So, we’ve been agents/managers for 25 years and have genuinely ‘seen it’ – and ‘heard it’ all. We get new artists asking to join us every day and a small percentage who fit the criteria actually get on our books, but many don’t: Here’s just a few reasons why they don’t get even close (not in any particular order!)….
- They don’t have a showreel. Most of OUR clients and venues want to see an act before they book them. These days – even to get seen by the lowliest of venues – you need a showreel. It needs to be professional – standing in your lounge in-front of the fireplace ‘doing’ your Adele tribute may look cool to your best friends on Facebook – but it’s rubbish marketing and will not do you any favours. Spend a few quid on a real company to do a pro showreel – convince your future clients and venues that you’re already a star!
- “I’ve been in the business for 20 years – I don’t do auditions…” Well it may surprise you to know that most roles in theatre and film still require an audition. Showreels are great as a first calling card – but if you are asked to do an audition (provided that you are not cheating on the showreel!), then just do it. Agents & Managers especially want to not only see your act, they want to audition you as a person. Are you a diva? Do you have (the wrong) attitude? Not everyone will ask you to audition, but when you get asked – go and do the best show you’ve ever done.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Some time ago we had a particularly good Take That tribute band on our books. They could sing. They could dance. They all looked the business…. Until you sat just a little closer to the stage and noticed that beneath the stage-wear jackets (which looked fabulous), they we’re all wearing dissimilar – and different shades of grey ‘school’ trousers (should have been smart, black, the same!) To top it all of they all had different styles of blackish shoes. If you think nobody notices (or cares), provided that you are talented – you are wrong. A few days later, critic Mark Ritchie reviewed them in The Stage newspaper. His focus was on the crappy, cheap pants & shoes – not the band! Look good both on and off stage!
- Be businesslike. Most agents want to engage acts that see their performances as a job. This entails all the stuff we’ve already mentioned plus: a) Turn up early (constant latecomers don’t get offered gigs!). b) Leave late (if you have a full venue, do a few more songs – nobody wants to hear: “…well it says 11:45 on my contract…”. c) Don’t try to cadge drinks, food, rooms. If these are on your contract/rider you’ll get them if not – don’t even ask. d) Don’t booze or do drugs on a job – ever! e) Don’t be a diva. People hate attitude.
- Don’t put bile, spite or worse on social media. It’s actually a legal clause in most agents’ contracts these days that you cannot mention and agent/manager/venue/client/other act on social media in a bad light. We’ve seen some posts stating that “the venue was rubbish…” Errr… these are the guys that are paying your wages! If you must say anything on social media – make it positive. You’ll never get an agent if you’re also a ‘published’ critic!
It sounds a bit unbelievable, but back in 1991 and 1992 Phil’s band ‘T.F.B.’ (aka Doktor Phil & The Medicine Men) really were playing 20 to 25 gigs every month… The bulk of the gigs were music-pubs, but there were quite a few proper music venues in there too (where the band took the door charge), a few bike-rallies and some festivals. It was a golden time for live music.
So what happened?
Well – there is not just one reason for the decline; that’s for sure. And it’s certainly not fair to start casting blame. But – here’s a few reasons why things have changed.
- With the advent of higher alcohol prices in venues – and lower prices for the same in supermarkets, a few folks decided to stay home for a drink.
- The video-rental business (anyone remember that?) was thriving, and coupled with the supermarket booze, a few folks decided to watch the latest movie.
- Satellite Television had just started to bloom. Dishes started to appear on houses and although the programme material wasn’t prolific (or that good!) it would grow very quickly to music channels, sport, movies and more.
- ‘Every Dog Has Its Day’… An old proverb, but after ten years of the same bands playing similar sets, just maybe a few people were looking for something new.
- Computer games had been around in arcades since the early ‘70s but by 1990 there had been massive advances in home computers which although looked infantile by today’s standards, it was a hit for kids and parents alike, helping to keeping them at home.
- Some venues decided that instead of paying the band, the band should pay them! Or – the band would be paid in tickets (which they had to sell to their friends/fans/family to get paid). Ludicrous! But sadly, there were so many (especially ‘indie’) bands without a gig, they’d so one (or many) for free. It didn’t take long for many ‘proper’ music venues to adopt this strategy.
- Solo artists / singers who were popular started appearing in the same pubs where once only bands had played. It was advantageous to the landlords as they were (albeit sometimes only marginally!) cheaper than a band. The audiences didn’t seem to complain (especially as some of the acts were very good!)
- Karaoke and Disco appeared and spread like wildfire in the venues where bands had once played. Audiences loved a bit of participation (especially when they’d had a few!) and regards the disco – most bands just didn’t play the style of music that DJ’s were playing – which some audiences loved.
On a lighter note, there seems to be a resurgence of live band venues now. It’s mainly limited to pubs – and the wages haven’t change a great deal from the 90’s… But when you have music in your blood, it’s most definitely not about the money!
Here’s a quick link to Doktor Phil playing live in Mallorca a couple of years ago… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4JxDPs79xY
99% of the time, working artists & entertainers rarely hear any complaints when they are out at a gig. They would be mortified if they heard some of the comments made the next day to their agents that have been passed on from venue managers. Here’s 10 things for artists to consider – These are some simple ‘rules of engagement’ if you want a re-booking!
- Set off early. – It sounds a bit of a simple trick, but even if your gig is just down the road, the traffic / the weather / an accident / a breakdown / an incorrect postcode, can very easily make you very late. Lateness is the single biggest complaint that we receive as agents.
- Turn it down. – If the manager asks you to lower the volume, just do it! It’s so easy. It’s not going to ruin your performance (au contraire if you’re deafening folk) and if the person who asked you can audibly notice the difference – you’ve scored real brownie-points. Volume is complaint no. 2 on the list.
- Bad attitude. – It’s so easy for an artist to assume an air of ‘superstardom’ or ‘diva-ism’. After all, they are just emulating (some of) the real superstars that are complete a-holes! Sad thing is, if the real Lady Gaga tells someone to swivel, she’s probably not going to lose her next gig because of it. Be nice. Bad attitude is no. 3 on the list of “I’ll never book them again…”
- Change for the stage. – OK… so not every gig is suited to an outfit change! I don’t see many blues bands putting on any glitter jackets, but it’s definitely better to stand out from the audience by wearing something attractive and befitting of the gig you’re playing. ‘They were scruffy…’ is a common complaint.
- Don’t swear. – Unless you’ve been booked as a blue comic, it’s surprising how many older people are still offended by swearing. It’s better to flick the ‘swearing / off’ switch before you go on stage (and most likely better still if you can flick that switch when you arrive!) Many good performers have lost good work at good venues because of foul language.
- Political Correctness. – I’m fairly certain that we all absolutely hate it. I know I do. However, very many venues these days (especially the hotel/casino chains and cruise-ships) are constantly asking their audiences for feedback. The golden rule here is to think what you say before you say it. Almost anything can be offensive to someone. Be professional and accept that’s the way it is these days.
- Work to Rule. – OK, so it states on your contract 2 x 45 minute sets. This does not mean that you are absolutely forbidden to do two or three encores. Most venues rely on the entertainment to keep punters in… Doing a disappearing act as soon as possible probably will not help in getting you re-booked.
- Equipment overkill. – So if you’re working in a pub, do you really need to cart in a huge PA rig? I’ve seen a blues band set-up an 8,000W rig with subs, mids and tops plus four stage-monitors and a huge mixing desk (for a four piece band)…. There really was only room for thirty punters. It’s not big or clever: It’s TOO big and definitely not clever (and – see #2 above!)
- Don’t cadge. – ‘Do we not get a free pint / a free meal / a free room?’ etc. If you think that you absolutely need any of these things, then I suggest that you arrange it well in advance of the gig with your manager / agent or directly with the venue manager if working direct.
- Social Media. – Most contracts these days actually forbid you to post anything negative on social media about the venue/agent/manager. But if someone has just paid you a few hundred quid, telling everyone on Facebook how brilliant you were at this ‘s—thole’ will definitely not be getting you a) another gig at that venue and b) you may find that many agents / other venues will stop using you!
I’m sure that not all (not many?) artists out there realise that eventually those same artists will be asked for their PLI and PAT certification. If they cannot produce these, there’s a very good chance that their gig will not go ahead.
Public Liability Insurance would cover you, if for example your PA speaker fell over onto a customer and caused injury/damage. The ‘standard’ insured amount to day is £10,000,000 although there are many policies out there for £1M or £5M., generally these policies can be bought from around £50 to £120 per annum.
Legally, in the UK, if you’re self-employed and you work on your own, there’s no need to have an employers’ liability policy (unless a contract requires you to have one)… And there’s the catch: Many venues like hotels, Masonic halls anything run by the local council can require you to have a valid PLI. If you cannot produce it (usually they will ask for it well in advance – and not surprise you on the night!) they can cancel your job.
If you are working through a reputable management company or agency, there’s every chance that they will keep your PLI (and PAT Cert.) details on file, so they can send off the required documentation to the client along with the contract.
PLI is available online from many sources, and for members of certain organisations (e.g. The Musicians Union) it comes included in the membership. Other organisations are able to offer it at a discounted price.
PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) Certification is basically a check through all of your electrical equipment to make sure that it’s in good, safe working order. The cost of this starts at just pence per item depending on how many items there are to be checked. The norm for a working artist seems to be in the region of £20-£50.
Normally, each item receives a sticker to indicate it’s been checked together with a print-out list of the tested equipment showing the results for each piece of kit. This list is the document that your clients may want sight of.
Is it a legal requirement? Well… actually no, but again your client can require it. And here’s what PAT.ORG.UK says about legality:
There is currently no strict legal requirement for PAT testing. The Government however has put regulations into place that pertain to the maintenance of electrical appliances and the most effective way to ensure that these regulations are met is through PAT testing.
The UK Health and Safety Executive along with insurance companies will expect you to perform PAT testing to ensure that you are compliant with certain regulations including:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 1999
Not complying with the above-mentioned regulations can result in fines up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment. Fines have been seen to go as high as £20,000 and offences heard in the Crown Court have carried sentences of more than 2 years imprisonment in additional to unlimited financial penalties. So even though PAT testing itself is not legally required, it simply helps you to protect yourself by ensuring that you are complying with these regulations.
If you are a working artist, whether solo or in a band, for the sake of a small financial layout, it must be a more sensible option to go down the professional route and acquire a good PLI and PAT certification. After all, we live in times of litigation – and “where there’s blame – there’s a claim” mentality. Better be safe than sorry!
WHY AN AGENT IS THE ONLY OPTION
Picture the scene: you’ve had a fabulous night out and been wowed by the entertainment. They’d be perfect for your venue, but a little on the pricey side. Being the canny business person you are, you approach them with an offer they can’t refuse.
It’s simple: they do your venue without going through their agent. You’ll pay them a lower fee than they would normally ask, but it’s cash in hand and the amount is roughly what they’d get anyway after the agent’s commission and VAT had been deducted.
It’s a win-win situation, for everyone, right? You’ve advertised the artiste, sold tickets, maybe even got extra bar staff on as this fabulous night is bound to bring in the crowds.
You’re all set. You have a full house of happy people. The compere is doing all his best material and maybe even thrown a few songs in that charted post 1976.
One hour later. You have a house full of very unhappy people, you’re bored staff have resorted to throwing beer mats at each other to keep themselves entertained and your desperate compere has just finished a Max Bygraves medley and is about to launch into his “Ooh Betty!” routine for the fourth time that night.
The act is a no-show. Their phone is turned off and you have no other way to contact them. There could be a dozen reasons why they didn’t turn up. Even if they were standing on top of a blazing building saving bereft kittens from being barbecued, it doesn’t salvage your night, or your reputation.
This scenario may seem a little overly dramatic, but it’s a lot more common than you might imagine and, as you don’t have anything other than a promise, you have no recourse against the performer, even if you could get hold of them.
If you’d booked the act through an agent, you would have the security of a written binding contract, which all parties are legally bound to fulfil.
Life can throw some unexpected situations in our path though, meaning there may be a genuine reason that the artiste cannot make your gig; so what happens then?
The act contacts the agent to let them know they are unable to do the gig. If given enough notice, the agent will contact you and advise you in plenty of time, offering the choice of another act for that night and/or the scheduled act on a different night.
If the act does have an emergency situation and has to cancel at very short notice; the agent has a catalogue of other artistes who are close to the venue and can be with you at short notice.
After a lot of juggling and many, many phone calls, that agent will work hard to ensure your night will go ahead and you won’t be facing a room full of rampaging punters.
Booking your artistes through an agency such as MBM Music Business Management Ltd, guarantees peace of mind.
With over 25 years of experience, Anne and Phil (backed by their Dream-Team: Janine, Orry, Adam and Lindsay) work hard to ensure you are provided with professional performers who are carefully selected to deliver entertainment that is geared toward your venue and the demographic of your clientele.
From a fun night in the local pub, to a whole show for a Summer Season, you’re in safe hands with MBM.
Visit our site today at mbmcorporate.co.uk
Follow us on Facebook at @MBMCorporate
and on Twitter at @MBM_ENTS
MBM: Let The Party Begin.
MBM Music Business Management Ltd
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Here at MBM we book soul singers, not only in Manchester and Lancashire – but quite literally all over the world. Some of the very finest artistes are on our books, and have been for quite a while. Edwin Dukes – The Soul Man, one of the most recognised names in Soul & Motown, has been a managed MBM artiste now for over 20 years! Marlon stepped off the aeroplane from Jamaica nearly 15 years ago – and has been with us ever since. Cherelle is the newest Soul Diva signing to enhance the talent in the MBM stable – she’s just appeared at Sparkle in Manchester and is lined up to appear at Manchester Pride in August. We care as much about our artistes as they do about their shows. We are always on the lookout for new talent. If you think you fit in with our artiste profile: Talent, Professionalism, Loyalty, Humility, then send us a link to your video / website and fill in the form on our website. Music Business Management Limited – Serious Management for Serious Artistes…. Including Soul Singers.