Hosting A Phil Keaggy Concert

Tips For First-Timers
From Mark Bacus, Book of Mark Productions

The folks at Street Level Artists Agency want to know that they are sending Phil into a stable, comfortable environment. If you've never hosted an artist in concert, do some "homework" before you contact the booking agent.

Start building a budget. You can fill in the actual numbers as things progress, but list and estimate the budget items, nonetheless -- expenditures and revenues.

What will your expenses be for an acoustic solo concert? Typically:

How about sources of revenue? The main source of revenue is usually ticket sales. Possible additional sources are sales of advertisements in the concert program (if there is one!) or event patronage/sponsorship (including possible mention in ads).

All right, then. In addition to the budget, you should solicit your region to make sure that there is interest in such a concert. Be objective. Try not to let your devotion as a fan of the artist cloud the realities of marketability in your area. Check around. Can you fill the concert hall? Can you keep the ticket price reasonable? Talk with local CCM radio stations to determine if one or more will co-sponsor the event with you. Talk to church groups to see if any will offer help in the form of volunteer staff. If there is an active folk or guitarist community in your area, consider soliciting their attendance and help on your volunteer staff. Your staff will be invaluable to you. They're the ones who will spread out and hang posters, stuff envelopes, pass out flyers, sell tickets, cover parking and ushering and concession sales and equipment load-in/load-out, etc.

Pick several dates which would work for you and try not to book the artist against some other local special event. You want to avoid dividing your market (the audience.) And, give yourself enough time to build momentum ... three months, at least.

You'll need money up front to get things rolling. Remember that. If you don't have it, you'll need to be very creative and get it. (E.g., find a dozen businesses, organizations, or individuals that will promise to donate $ 100 each as patronage in support of the concert. In return, promise to mention them in ads and in an concert program.)

I urge you to firm up these things before making initial contact with Street Level. They will appreciate your initial efforts and your communication with them will be enhanced.

If you and the good folks at Street Level lock in on a calendar date, they will send you a contract and a technical rider. Study it carefully and be prepared to provide everything that the artist requests or needs. The technical rider will be very specific about electrical, light, and sound requirements (in other words, any ol' microphone won't do ... don't assume it will!); dressing room and refreshment needs; location, staging, hotel, transportation, staff, security needs, etc.

If you cannot meet some of the artist's needs, you must say so immediately. This doesn't mean that the deal is off ... compromises can be reached. But, the technical rider has been developed to help Phil and you. Satisfying Phil's needs will optimize his ability to be comfortable and at ease and to be at his best in concert performance. And by conforming to the technical rider, you will have a handy "check-list," thus improving the potential for success on concert day!

After you have secured the contract, get ready for dozens of little surprises. Try as you may to prepare for everything, surprises still pop up -- so be flexible.

Bottom line. As a host, your top concern is "accomodation." Accomodate the artist and the audience to the best of your ability. A good host doesn't concentrate on one and neglect the other. Without one, the other is of little consequence. And you are the matchmaker between the two.

n.b. Phil is an extremely conscientious guest. But, please take his lead. Let him shape the day. If he develops an appetite earlier than later, go with that. Be flexible. Have lots of fruit and good coffee around. Be ready to give him space or to be engaged in wonderful conversation. Just like anyone else, his needs are variable. Go with the day. Do not have your own agenda. Accomodate! And enjoy the experience.

Mark Bacus
Book of Mark Productions
(618) 692-3635/fax 692-3633

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