Greg Janese of Paradigm Agency, Jim Lenz of Paradise Artists, Robert Norman of Creative Artists Agency, Rick Whetsel of G7 Entertainment Marketing, Chris Burke and Gayle Holcomb of WME, Natalka Dudynsky of ICM Partners, Joe Rosenberg of AM Only, Michael Boltzman of AEG Live, Travis Wolfe of APA and Jon Romero of Vector Management comprise the panelists and supporters of the Corporate 360 breakout session.
REPORTING FROM NASHVILLE, TENN. — Careful vetting of corporate events overseas, right down to the end client, is a must when booking such shows. That was one of the best practices shared during IEBA's Corporate 360 session.
The International Entertainment Buyers Association held its 44th annual convention here Sept. 27-30, bringing 800 promoters, agents and attendees for days filled with education, networking and lots of music.
Its Corporate 360 subdivision hosted a session in which they discussed the trials and successes of event planning overseas and EDM for the corporate crowd.
Though Gayle Holcomb of WME said that it’s always important to research offers, she added that “especially internationally, whenever we get an offer we vet it completely,” even going so far as to check out the end client in certain territories.
In fact, WME has implemented a policy to collect a 25-percent binder to open conversations with clients for any nonticketed events, which Holcomb added has eliminated a lot of unnecessary negotiation and weeded out curiosities versus firm offers. CAA and other companies also require a binder for corporate events.
Natalka Dudynsky of ICM Partners said the firm goes the extra step with international events to require 100 percent of payment prior to the event.
“We won’t put an artist on a plane unless all the money is already in,” she added.
With overseas travel and events, clarity when it comes to contracts and travel requirements is more important than ever. Michael Boltzman of AEG Live recalled a situation in which one bandmember booked on an overseas event didn’t have an updated passport but didn’t think to mention it until two weeks before the show. The group replaced the member for that particular show, but Boltzman no longer assumes that the band will inherently understand the need for an updated passport when traveling overseas and always double-checks.
Dudynsky added that the end client is responsible for any travel expenses, including those specifically related to going overseas. A traveling, working act needs more than just a plane ticket.
“Our client will not be responsible for paying for and providing their own visas and permits — that’s coming out of your client’s pocket,” she said.
Though booking internationally adds on a layer of complications, there are many reasons to explore options. Not only does it open up a whole new market of corporations worldwide to book clients, but could potentially add revenue during the dark sports on an international tour or provide a reason for an artist to test a few gigs in a new area.
“If we get a corporate event here we can kind of surround it with other dates so the artist can make as much money as possible,” said Dudynsky, adding, “you can’t always do that in Kazakhstan.”
Groups like Project WorldWide, a global network of 11 agencies, work together to ease the confusion associated with international work.
“We’re lucky enough to have boots on the ground worldwide, but even though we have people who can figure out the day-to-day aspects, we still have to be smart enough to figure out what our clients need and that they’re safe,” said Rick Whetsel of G7 Entertainment Marketing, one of the agencies in Project WorldWide.
With the rise in popularity of EDM worldwide, it makes sense that corporations are becoming interested in booking those artists, as well.
“It’s a conversation that wouldn’t have been on the radar five years ago, but if you have employees that are 25-31, this is probably the type of music they’re listening to and will want to hear,” said Joe Rosenberg of AM Only, who added that tech companies and startups have been especially proactive in booking electronic music at their events.
AM Only represents artists including David Guetta, will.i.am, Tiesto and other artists who also have mainstream appeal and have appeared on national morning television.
The artists themselves have come around to the idea of playing paid, corporate dates, but that wasn’t always the case.
“When I started doing brand parties a few years ago it was a tough conversation to have with the artist,” said Rosenberg, who added that he was cursed at several times for approaching artists about corporate events. “Now that’s changing. It’s gone from ‘F*** off,’ to, ‘I can get paid how much?’”
Chris Burke of WME said that when it comes to EDM, it’s as much about educating the buyer on what type of sound and production they’re looking for as it is about educating the artist on appropriate behavior in corporate situations.
Travis Wolfe of APA related the latest EDM bookings to a previous trend that had to be molded for the corporate audience.
“EDM now is what the stand-up comedy world was 10 years ago,” he said, adding that some artists, in both genres, are better with a corporate audience than others.
Rosenberg said that it’s also important to educate the buyer on the realities of an EDM show, instead of letting reported statistics shape their view. Though the public hears a lot of news associated with narcotics-related deaths at electronic music events, Rosenberg said that many artists are actively trying to negate that misconception. “There is a stigma attached to it, but not every EDM show has massive drug consumption,” said Rosenberg. “Really, if you think that people are going to do a bunch of drugs at your corporate event, then your business has bigger problems.”
IEBA has seen a 42 percent increase in membership since June 2013 with the addition of more than 1,000 members, about 60 percent of whom are comprised of buyers and agents. The increase in membership – and membership dollars – has allowed IEBA to purchase a new office outright in the musical neighborhood of Berry Hill here in Nashville. Attendance at this year’s convention was up by about 12 percent.
Interviewed for this story: Michael Boltzman, (314) 862-4440; Chris Burke, (310) 859-4572; Natalka Dudynsky, (310) 550-4000; Gayle Holcomb, (310) 859-4461; Joe Rosenberg, (718) 237-2428; Travis Wolfe, (310) 888-4200; Rick Whetsel, (615) 988-3410