Buildings That Buy Talent Directly From Agents

First and foremost: This panel was about how buildings can buy talent and not about how to put promoters out of business. Not even close.

With one exception, the building execs on the panel made it clear they all prefer to work with promoters – aka their clients – because of longstanding relationships and because partners mitigate risk.

Brock Jones of Global Spectrum Presents, which reps more than 100 buildings worldwide, said the facility management company does not want to insert itself between the agent and promoter or get into a bidding war with its client.

Most of the panelists average about two to seven in-house buys a year. Except for Peter Zimmerman.

The 7,028-capacity  in Vienna, Va. – a nonprofit venue inside a national park – does approximately 100 shows a year, all in house.

“No promoters go to Wolf Trap,” Zimmerman said, adding that he expects a quarter of the shows – the philharmonic, dance and especially opera – to be money losers.

But venues can bring in more shows if financially viable.

“The vast majority of shows at the  are from outside buyers,” Ryman GM Sally Williams said. “Although we do promote all the country music that plays the Ryman plus a variety of other shows.”

She had crunched some numbers provided by Pollstar.

Last year, in-house promotion accounted for 19 million tickets and $918 million revenue – approximately 18 percent of tickets sold and of the $5.1 billion in total revenue.

It’s risky business to buy direct.

“My advice to buildings that want to do this: Don’t do it out of desperation,” Jeff Apregan of Venue Coalition said. “Don’t think, “Oh my God we don’t have anything on the calendar. We have to book something.’

“I have seen venues get into situations where they start pursuing something that is not the best situation and overpay. It’s a though process – how to do talent buying and do the execution, the marketing. If you only have one, you’re going to fail. And you also don’t want to send the message, ‘Hey, we’re dumb guys with a lot of money. Do you have anything you want to sell to us?’”

That being said, here’s how to get started, according to agent Mario Tirado: Make the calls to the agent. Don’t chit-chat – just state the reason why you’re calling.

“Let them know you’re there,” Tirado said. “Someday when an act is getting routed, they’ll remember.”

Jones mirrored the statement.

A year ago, there were people in Global Spectrum who didn’t know where Clovis, N.M., was “and I have a building there.”

But that changes after the building gets booked.

“Every agency, when they go into those weekly routing meetings, those markets start coming out,” he said. “Shows create shows. Once you put a couple of shows in, the agencies start calling, saying, ‘I’m putting this out. Can you fill this routing?’”

The shows can make the buildings more money than through a promoter, but that’s not necessarily a good business idea.

Scott Ford of e in Saskatoon offers the same deals as the promoter, and goes through the agent.

Again, it’s not about competing with the local promoter that keeps your lights on.

A few more words of advice: Do as promised. It’s better to pass on the show than to fail at your promise.

And show off your marketing team. Let the agent see there was an aggressive and successful effort to sell tickets.

Finally, if you don’t come through with the above, don’t visit the tour bus afterward.