You’re considering hiring an entertainer for your party or banquet. For this general article, it doesn’t matter whether you’re planning comedy or music or a caricature artist. Outstanding entertainment can help make your event fun and unforgettable. But if you don’t have anyone specific in mind, how do you find someone who will do a great job?
Obviously you know the power of the internet, because you’re reading this article right now! The web is an incredible resource; simply typing, for instance, “DJ” and the name of your nearest city will bring up websites and ads. Be aware that some of the ads and organic results will be from performers who are not in your area. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but keep in mind you’ll pay more for a performer coming from out of town.
Remember to take things that you read on the performer’s personal site with a grain of salt. (It’s marketing!) Look to other sources, like critic’s reviews, other blogs, news articles, and more to get the full picture.
Use Your Social Circle
Reach out to your friends and connections on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Ask them for recommendations. This can be really effective because we all have friends who run in different circles and may be able to give you a personal recommendation.
There’s a first time for everything, but you don’t want your hired entertainer receiving “on the job training” on your dollar! You’ll have a far better experience going with a performer who has an act honed for your occasion and situation. You should be able to get a feel for this by going through their website, reading testimonials and reviews, and listening to their demo track or watching their video.
Inform Your Performer
Your entertainer isn’t a mindreader… unless you’re booking a mentalist! The more details you provide, the better they can provide the best service for your situation.
- What else is happening that day?
- Is there a theme for the event?
- Provide parking and load/unload details if necessary
- What is the schedule and timing for the event?
- Describe your demographics. Who is attending?
- Discuss production requirements: space, stage/platform, sound system, lighting, etc.
- Will you have an emcee running the event?
- What entertainment has worked well in the past, and why?
- Questions or special requests
Use a Talent or Booking Agency
Entertainment agents offer a very real value: they have a large stable of artists and can recommend a performer who is a good fit for you and your event. Agents and event planners can handle much more than entertainment, ranging from booking caterers to renting tables and chairs.
Yes, you’ll pay about 20% extra when booking entertainment through an agency. They need to be reimbursed for their time and expertise, too!
Another option is an “online” booking agency, such as www.gigmasters.com or www.gigsalad.com. These sites are good because you can submit one request for proposals and, within a day, receive several proposals from performers. The drawback: it can be hard to differentiate between performers based on their limited online listing. When you don’t have a lot of information, it’s tempting to base your decision simply on price. That’s not a good indication of value; be sure and do your due diligence beyond the one website.
Watch & Listen to Online Demos
In today’s world there is no excuse for not having a demo video. Most professionals have a website with video you can watch or songs you can listen to. You can also try searching for their name or business name on YouTube.com. Since Google and YouTube are affiliated, if you use Google for searching, YouTube videos will also come up if any are found.
One quick tip: look for more full-length videos as opposed to highly-edited videos. Anyone can look good with a video that consists of a few seconds here and a few seconds there. Seeing more un-edited routines will give you a better sense of the performer’s rapport with the audience and personality.
You can read reviews about performers online at review sites such as Google, Yahoo, Yelp, LinkedIn, and more. These are places where clients post their comments without editing by the business or performer. Search for the company or performer you’re interested in on these sites and see what people are saying.
Online reviews not enough? You may want to talk with one or two people who hired the performer recently. If your performer can’t provide at least two people that you can call or e-mail, keep looking. (Be sure that you’re comparing shows/environments that will be similar to yours. A private party is not the same as a company banquet for 200 people.)
See the Performer Live
If online videos aren’t enough, ask if you can see the performer live at an upcoming show. This isn’t always practical or possible, but is an excellent way to really know if the performer will be a good fit for you.
It all comes down to “doing your homework.” Make sure that what you see and read convinces you that this is the right performer for your event. Remember that you frequently get what you pay for. If you’re planning a special event and adding entertainment, it’s worth doing this little extra research to make sure you get the right performer.