How We Can Save You Money Planning Your Next Event

How Your Middle Buyer Saves You Money

We as Middle Buyers occasionally hear, “We are going to book our artist direct in order to save money.”  Meaning, they don’t want to pay the 10% fee that Middle Buyers charge on top of the artist fee.  But what programmers often don’t realize is just how much money a Middle Buyer can save them.  Let’s look at some real examples.

Example 1 – The “BIG” show – A year ago one of our school programming board clients was interested in an artist on the rise, but was dragging his feet.  We as Middle Buyers often are more in touch with artist prices and changes, and we knew this artist’s price was going to double in the coming weeks because several singles were flying up the charts.  We let the school know that it was “now or never.”  The school trusted us, submitted their offer very quickly, and the artist  we confirmed for $75,000.  Literally by the very next week, that artist was charging other schools $150,000 due to their sudden jump in popularity.

A few weeks later, the production for that artist grew into a massive set up that we could not have anticipated when booking the artist, and their needs went far beyond anything the school had budgeted for.  We negotiated with the artist’s production team and management, explaining the budgetary issues, and the tour ended up paying for $10,000 of that increased production.

Thus, for our $7,500 fee, we saved the school $85,000, plus they had a huge, sold out show.  Worth it, don’t you think?

Example 2 – The “smaller” show – A school with a budget of $15,000 wanted to produce a large scale concert.  Typically $15,000 doesn’t get you an artist that can sell thousands of tickets.  However, a small unknown band at the time (someone named The Band Perry) was routed through the area, and we had booked them at another school or two, knowing they were on their way up.  We knew there was one more routed date possible, so we convinced the school to book The Band Perry for $12,500 and another small up and comer at the time, Thompson Square, for $2,500.  The school ended up selling 3,000+ tickets for this event and made a profit, which is basically unheard of in the college concert world.  No one, not even the artists, anticipated those ticket sales.

Thus, for our fee of $1,500, the school saved $30,000.  Broken down, instead of the school losing about $20,000 on a show (which they normally budget for) the school MADE about $10,000.  Again – worth it.

Example 3 – Saving money along the way – We also save money for our clients in smaller ways.  For every event, we suggest our clients form a budget and share it with us, so we can make sure the numbers are realistic and help them stay within those numbers.  We speak with tour personnel daily, so we know how to have the tough conversations about saving money.  We can review production needs and suggest areas where savings might be possible.  We can also go through catering lists and see how we can prevent wasting food, and thus save money.  We have even saved some of our clients a few thousand dollars by suggesting a new production company they hadn’t heard of, or by routing several shows together and putting the same production company on all of them.

Thus, even if we only save our client a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, it is still making up for the cost of our services.

What’s more – you can’t put a price on the experience and expertise  a Middle Buyer can give you.  When you’re faced with a tough decision and you don’t know contractually and legally what you can do, we as the Middle Buyer are there to tell you.  We’re there to help you through the tough decisions, make suggestions every step of the way, and offer creative solutions to problems.  Every artist has a team of people representing their best interests.  We represent the buyer’s best interests.

Glossary of Entertainment Terms

As you dive into the world of entertainment, you may hear some terms that you are not familiar with, or are only vaguely familiar with.  Here are a few definitions that can help you better understand and conduct business in entertainment.

Artist – performer of any kind.  (Sometimes referred to as “Producer” in entertainment contracts.)

Headliner – main Artist, which must be reflected in all marketing efforts.  They perform last.

Support Act – opening performer or performers, performing before the Headliner.

Direct Support – Artist performing immediately before the Headliner.

Buyer or Purchaser – the entity that is financially and contractually responsible for a performance occurring in a space they have arranged for it to occur in.

Contract – a written or spoken agreement concerning employment, sales, tenancy, etc that is intended to be enforceable by law.  In this case, an artist contract is an agreement to perform within the specified parameters in exchange for an agreed upon dollar amount.

Rider – a condition or provision added to something already said or decreed.  In our case, a rider “rides along with” an Artist contract to further outline what is expected of both the Artist and the Buyer.  An Artist Rider includes technical, hospitality and marketing requirements or restrictions that the Artist expects the Buyer to provide and adhere to.  A Buyer Rider (whether it is that of a Venue, University or Festival) includes legal & insurance requirements, state, city and venue policies, and key information that the Buyer expects the Artist to adhere to.  All riders are considered part of the contract and therefore should be included with the contract when obtaining signatures.

Flat Guarantee – a predetermined, set amount of money that a Buyer will pay an Artist in exchange for their performance, regardless of ticket sales or financial outcome of the event.

Backend Guarantee – a predetermined percentage of net profit to be given to an Artist in exchange for their performance.  Often agreements are “flat plus backend deals,” which means a Buyer will pay an Artist a set amount of money plus a percentage of net proceeds.


Verse Deal – an agreement for a Buyer to pay an Artist the larger amount of EITHER a flat guarantee OR a backend after proceeds are determined.

Deposits – a financial down payment for an Artist to perform.  Colleges and Universities are rarely able to pay deposits, and the Artist cannot require them to per law.  A typical deposit for other Buyers is a 50% deposit, 30 days prior to show date.  Otherwise full payment or rest of payment is made immediately following an Artist’s performance.

Settlement – going through final ticket sales and the amount an Artist is to be paid.  With a flat guarantee, settlement is very short and straight forward.  With a backend or verse deal, settlement is perhaps a bit more complicated because you buyers have to present all expenses with receipts to the tour manager, as well as all box office revenue.  Even in a flat guarantee scenario, paying an Artist’s tour manager and handing them a box office report at the end of the show should be expected.

Radius Clause – a specific distance around a Venue in which the Buyer expects the Artist to avoid performing within in a specific number of days.  For example, a Buyer can request that an Artist not perform within a 100 mile radius 30 days either side of play date.  If the Artist receives offers within 100 miles and within a 30 day window of the contracted performance, they must pass on the second offer or ask permission of the first Buyer to play within their given radius.

Ad Mats – short for “advertising materials,” ad mat refers to any poster, radio ad, television ad or other created piece used to advertise a performance.  Often an Artist will require the use of a pre-made ad mat to be used in conjunction with a tour so that the materials remain consistent throughout the tour.

Ad Plan/Ad Grid – a graph and/or list of advertising and promotion plans, with dates of release, for marketing a performance.  It outlines what marketing efforts will be made between point of announce and the day of the performance.

Billing – the listing of the performers on any and all written or spoken documents and marketing materials.  Often the Headliner must receive 100% billing and any Support Acts 75% or smaller.  This means the logo, font and photo size of all Support Act info must be no larger than 75% the size of the Headliner’s logo, font and photo in all print materials.

Advance – to “advance” a show means to discuss all details about an upcoming performance with a tour and production manager of the Artist.

Backline – band or performance equipment above and beyond sound and lighting requirements, such as pianos, keyboards, guitars, drum kits, monitors, etc.

Merchandise – any items an Artist intends to sell at the Venue they are performing at.

Merch Rate – the agreed upon split point of gross merchandise sales.  For example, an 80/20% merch split means the Artist gets to keep 80% of the gross sales at a venue while the Buyer (or Venue) keeps 20% of the gross sales.

Runner – a designated person with a vehicle who is specifically responsible for running errands, transporting performers to and from their hotel, and taking care of other spontaneous needs.

ASCAP/BMI/SESAC – several companies that license music rights.  Venues must carry these licenses in order to have performances at their facilities.  Typically universities and university venues have campus coverage for these licenses.

Have you come across other terms you aren’t familiar with?  Let us know and we’ll add them to our list!

Starting the Year Off on the Right Note

It’s fall.  It’s officially September, and the time for “Welcome Back” events is upon us.  This could be Welcome Back to School, Welcome Back to our theater/programming series, Welcome Back to those that disappear to the back woods, Europe or Florida over the summer and surface again this month.  We hope you enjoyed your summer, and are ready to get back at it, programming and attending the best concerts, comedians, speakers, and more.

If you were lucky, you were able to take in some festivals this summer.  If you weren’t lucky, here are some reviews that you  might want to check out:

Either way, it’s time to regroup and start fresh with your peers.  Here are few ways we recommend getting to know fellow committee members:

*Take the Meyers-Briggs tests here:

Compare results, and take the time to read up about your peers and those you work the closest with.  It can’t hurt to learn a little more about them, not to mention learn more about yourself in the process.

*Answer these ice breaker questions:

*Discuss what new music you added to your playlists this summer and why.  Meanwhile, check out our playlist (link to our Spotify).  Discuss any summer festivals you attended and what your favorite performances were.

*Or, you can always attempt trust falls (we don’t actually recommend this one).


Get settled, get to know your peers, and get excited because “Welcome Back” time is upon us.  There is no better time than now to come to the table with new ideas, new perspectives, and new initiatives.  And there is no better time than now to be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and new initiatives from others.  Let us know your ideas, questions, concerns, hopes and dreams for this season of programming, and we’d be happy to help you through your planning process.

Visit our website here to create your own artist wishlist to share with your team!