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If you are interested to build your career with the goal of being a headliner entertainer, it is good to know what a talent manager, event producer or organizer looks for when booking a headline entertainer for a special event or venue.
This article may help you understand how clients choose a headline entertainer.
What is a Headline Entertainer?
A headline entertainer is a proven world-class performing artist who has experience performing shows for theatres, entertainment venues or special events as the main attraction or entertainment highlight.
Headliners usually represent the upper echelon of their industry or art and have extensive experience over variety of markets & performance venues
Most headliners have national/ international performance experience, beyond their local domestic market.
How do Clients Identify a Headline Entertainer?
Any headliner will have a proven track record of performing for a variety of shows, events, venues and organizations, over a sustained period of time.
He/ she should have media coverage on their work as a headline entertainer or for headlining high profile shows & events.
A headliner will also have quality promotional material inclusive of photographs, videos and copy.
Many clients will reply on their instincts and experience, especially if they are experienced in booking entertainment. Just like the instant you step into a posh boutique and know that you are in a high-end establishment, one look at an artiste’s website and promotional material will give you indication if the act is a proven headliner.
Considerations Clients Make When Choosing a Headline Entertainer
Here are four things that clients will look out for when booking a headline entertainer:
Content of Act
At the headliner level, the quality of the act is generally not in question. After all, if the quality of an entertainer is not high, he/ she would not be able to work as a headliner for any substantial length of time. So, quality is usually a given.
The client will want to match the content or nature of the act with your audience. A top-tier world class headliner can still bomb at an event or a show that does not fit the audience profile or feel of the event.
For example a world-class hip hop beat boxing dance crew may be perfect to headline a youthful music festival but may likely be completely out of place at a 80th anniversary gala and art auction for a mature socialite audience profile.
Having said that, most headliners are very adaptable and can tailor their shows to fit a wide spectrum of audiences and events, within reason. The more adaptable you are and can demonstrate this adaptability, the more opportunities you will have for work.
Duration of Performance
A client will have a general idea of what duration an act or show they are looking for. It also depends how experienced the client is in booking shows and acts.
They generally understand that each entertainer has their own repertoire of acts and routines.
There is no right length of performance as it depends on the client’s needs. However, typical headline shows for special events range from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.
A headline entertainer performing a full show in a theatre or entertainment venue, will present a performance that lasts typically between 60 minute to 90 minutes. However, it is possible for a very good speciality act to headline a show or event with just a 8-minute act, but this is not very common.
Once again, being adaptable and providing a duration that a client wants is a big benefit.
Performance Fees & Associated Costs
Clients generally understand that at a high level, headline entertainers each have their own differentiating qualities that make them unique products. As a result, there is no “market” price that applies across the board. Headline entertainers will charge what they feel they are worth and based on what clients are willing to pay them.
As such, clients are aware that headline acts do not come cheap. They generally will have a realistic budget (although “realistic” is subjective from act to act). But, the fee an entertainer charges depends on how much celebrity he/ she has as well as the scale and duration of the act/ show.
A client will also want to know all other costs associated with hiring the entertainer beyond his/ her performance fee. These associated costs may include:
- Travel, meal and accommodation expenses for the entertainer and assistants/ entourage if necessary.
- Special technical requirements such as staging, dressing area, lighting, audio or video equipment.
All these costs will contribute to the overall cost the client must bear when booking an entertainer. Clients will have a specified budget and the total costs must fit within their budget.
Professionalism & Ethics
Some clients, especially established show bookers and agents will also want to work with an entertainer who is professional and has professional ethics.
A reputable agent or meticulous client will not take the risk in booking an entertainer who has a drinking or substance abuse problem, has a reputation of saying inappropriate things on stage, has inappropriate behavior offstage, does not turn up on time or writes offensive statements on social media.
They may do some research on an entertainer’s social media accounts, online media coverage, forums and blogs from industry insiders or ask past clients/ audience members to bring to light any potential issues they might want to avoid.
Another consideration that reputable show bookers make is whether an artiste performs original material or pirates other entertainers’ material. For example, some acts are heavily pirated and stolen from the original artiste such as the Laserman Act that originated in France.
These show bookers would never ever book such an act as they know the act is a thief. With the Internet and experience in the industry, it is easy to uncover unethical entertainers who steal from other entertainers and try to pass themselves off as the original to unsuspecting clients.