As both a performer and an entertainment agent, I have always understood the importance of making it easy for people to book me by offering every conceivable avenue to them to reach me and to make resources available to them. However, I am truly amazed at how many performers do their best to make it hard for me and other bookers to actually give them engagements. Agents and venues are always trying to get the best performers, but if those performers put impediments in the way of getting gigs, then they will wind up sitting on their backsides at home while others score the work. These hints and tips have come from more than four decades of my experience in this industry.
It is surprising how many performers and musicians do not realise the importance of being contactable at any time. Most agents and venues that are trying to book performers often need to know IMMEDIATELY if a performer is available for booking, but if they cannot speak to that performer on the spot, they usually move onto the next person on their list and give them the gig. That is exactly what I do when I am trying to book somebody in a hurry.
Therefore, in this era of instant mobile communication, it is most important for performers to ALWAYS carry mobile phones that are switched on. If their mobile phones happen to be out of range, then at least when they pop back into range, hopefully within a few minutes, the performer can return the call.
There is nothing more frustrating for an agent than to ring performers and get no response. For instance, I stopped booking one excellent performer because of such frustration. Every time I rang to give the performer a gig, the phone would never be answered or it would invite me to leave a voicemail and that performer would eventually call me back a day or two later.
Well that's not good enough. When I ring performers, in most cases I need to know immediately if they are available and if so, to book them on the spot. It's no good for me to leave messages and hope that these performers will eventually ring me back, while my client at the venue is waiting for an answer from me within an hour.
The moral of this is that some performers, like the one that I described have lost many thousands of dollars worth of work via my agency, simply because they could not be reached immediately most times, so I found it uneconomical and frustrating to keep trying to call them. I generally try to book those performers who are diligent enough to care about their business and are always contactable.
All performers should ALWAYS ensure that they carry their mobile phones at all times and that they can be reached immediately, because if they are not, it could cost them a lot of money. If I find that performers are consistently hard to contact, I just cross them off my list and don't bother to call them, no matter how good they are. They might be the greatest artistes on the planet, but if I can't get to speak to them to arrange to book them, they are useless to me and most other agents hold that same view.
Even when a performer is contactable, it is most frustrating for a booker to be told that the performer has left his diary at home and cannot tell the booker if he is available on a particular date. Sometimes there is no urgency and the performer will be given the chance to get home and call the booker back with his availabilities.
However, in many cases, if the booker really needs to know those availabilities on the spot, then the performer will quite rightly lose the gig because of his negligence by not carrying his diary with him at all times. So it is most important for performers to ALWAYS carry their booking diaries with them at all times, no matter what. One missed gig can be worth thousands of dollars.
So the Internet does suffer from outages and ISP facilities fall over occasionally. Despite this, all performers need to ensure that they have a functioning email address, because these days, a lot of booking enquiries and confirmations are made via email. If a booker sends a performer an enquiry and it bounces back, then the booker most likely will go to the next person on the list and give them the gig if they are contactable.
My agency only operates via the Internet and does not send out faxes or mailed documents such as confirmations. Therefore if a performer cannot do business on the Internet, then I don't have time or the will to deal with them via any other means and I just book somebody else. Many agents are doing the same, so a functioning email address is crucial for all performers.
As well as having a regular email address, having a fallback email address is highly advisable. Such email facilities are free, with Microsoft Hotmail, Google GMail and many other web-based email accounts being readily available. I personally have found such fallback accounts vital, because some years ago I was having problems with my former website host and my regular email address was down, sometimes for days. On all my outgoing emails, there are instructions that if an email to my regular email address bounces back, people can re-send it to my Hotmail or GMail account and I will get it for sure. This is great insurance and costs nothing.
These days, it's almost a crime for a performer not to have a website. Virtually every agent and venue is on the Internet and uses it to search for entertainers and musicians. Because I have a list of recommended performers and musicians on my website, I get many calls from people who are looking for some of those performers, but who can't find them anywhere else on the Internet. Many of those performers have gained more work, simply because they are listed on my website.
Every performer and musician should have a website, even something very simple, merely so that bookers can find them easily. Entertainers who wish to retain their privacy can merely list their mobile phone numbers and email addresses on their websites and it makes them instantly reachable. This will translate into extra gigs, so it's very worthwhile and important to have that website up and running all the time. In actual fact a website is probably the cheapest form of advertising for any performer.
How many times has an agent asked a performer for promotional material that is needed urgently and the performer cannot make it available right there and then? In many cases, this could mean losing gigs if such promotional material is not provided. With the advent of the Internet, relying on the postal service to send promotional material is a little archaic and there is a much better way of doing such things.
I am often surprised to see the websites of performers that do not provide any reasonable resources for bookers to access. What's the point of having a website that is not going to work for you? All performers should have the following material available on their websites, so that bookers can download them instantly on demand.
It is a good idea to have your main downloadable graphic with a white background. The reason for this is that in many cases, the graphic will be inserted into a poster and if the background is white, it can be easily changed to transparent. This looks better and makes it easy for to set out the poster. if the background is dark or has various objects and colours in it, then it is much harder to use in a poster. Even better, also have a transparent GIF of your main promotional graphic available for download and save others the trouble of having to convert it.
Providing such material on a website makes life easy for bookers and will result in more gigs for performers who are smart enough to provide such resources. The Internet is a fantastic facility for everybody, but neglecting to make full use of it is really silly.
Many people, especially private bookers, might search the Internet to find a suitable performer for a gig. They want to be able to make an instant enquiry, rather than send an email via their own email program. As well as a phone number, a contact form on a website achieves this goal, where a potential booker can just fill in the spaces, click a button and send their enquiry. For example, such a contact form can be found on this website on the Contact page.
The trick is to make it easy for potential bookers to engage performers, so providing every conceivable facility on a website goes a long way to securing extra gigs.