How to Hire a Big-Name Band

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So, your boss wants to book the hottest band in the land to impress the shareholders? Be prepared to shell out some serious cash if you're lucky or clever enough to break through to the appropriate agent and swing the deal.

  • Contact Pollstar (pollstar.com), which maintains the world's largest database of international concert tour information and booking agents, and purchase the annual Booking Agency Directory ($90). This contains information on more than 9,500 artists and a cross-index of agency personnel. Pollstar's annual Talent Buyers Directory is another useful tool (also about $90).

  • Budget several hundred thousand dollars for the one-time performance. Costs include transportation for the band and crew, accommodations and security.

  • Contact the agency or management company that represents the band you'd like to hire. If you're lucky enough to reach the band's agent or manager and find that the band is available when you need it, be prepared to discuss all relevant details including the nature of the event, date and time, venue, transportation, security, publicity, insurance and cost.

  • Write up what the industry calls a firm offer based on details discussed in your phone conversation. The document (which can be considered legal) should be a one-page outline that summarizes everything you would provide the band, as well as a deadline of no more than one week for the agent to respond to your offer. Fax the document directly to the agent.

  • Wait for the agent to review the terms of your offer with the artist and hope that it will be accepted.

  • Put your dancing shoes on.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lingo is very important here. You probably won't get past the receptionist if you don't use this exact wording: "May I speak with the responsible agent for [band]?"
  • A booking agent may also coordinate the hiring of the band. It's worth asking before you invest in Pollstar's directories.
  • Even a verbal agreement may be legally binding. Be very clear about what you plan to do.

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