How to Hire Celebrity Entertainment

How to Hire Celebrity Entertainment

This article written by AOO Events CEO David Merrell originally appeared on

Hiring big name entertainment is something that my company, AOO Events, and I have done often over the years. From Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke to Michael Buble and Melissa Etheridge, there are several things I’ve learned that are universal and I share them here.

AOO Events

The stage is set for Bruno Mars at a private event. See last week’s post for more on this. Photo: Verofoto

1. Top name entertainment usually comes with a rider that includes what they need to perform. Know that that this technical list is usually drafted for a full concert production. The size of the stage and the configuration of equipment is typically meant for a sizable audience. There is always room to negotiate stage size, lighting and sound equipment, etc. but it must be done before you sign the agreement. Get all of your agreements up front before you sign, otherwise you inherit more expense and headaches that you really need.

2. Food requirements and green room needs are the same. Many times they are asking for the moon and the stars, when they don’t always need it, nor will they actually consume it. So many times getting everything on their lists is expensive and with most of it going to waste. Know that it is also negotiable.

Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke performs at the SLS Vegas for a NYE event.

3. Meet and greets with the name act are possible. But the time it happens, the amount of people that can meet the artist, and how much the artist interact should be agreed to up front. You don’t want a client who has paid a lot of money, expecting a lot of face time with the name act, and then not getting it. It’s better to address this and really spell it all out so you have a clear understanding of what they are willing to do up front.

4. Lighting and sound. It’s rare that you will ever be able to control the look of the stage, or the lighting for a name act. Very rare. They are always want to control the experience that happens once they are on stage. Just spend enough time with their sound engineers and lighting designers, so they are very aware of what they are walking into, and then stand back and give them their time to program and work the boards.

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge at ASAE.

5. Music requests are common, considering the name act may very well be famous for many different hits. While you can request it, the name acts may not want to perform certain songs as they tend to stay with what they have rehearsed and/or been on the road performing. It’s not a matter of bending to the requests of their clients/hosts, it’s about them performing the songs that they are prepared for with the musicians they are performing with. However, if you have requests, it is always important to mention them in the negotiation process, versus later on.

6. Know that the management and handlers around entertainers usually do not reflect the personality of the name act in any way. Many times you will find yourself in egotistical tugs of war, perceived lacks of cooperation, hardlined agreements to requests, etc. This is simply the management around the artist who is always hardline positioning. You will find that many times this doesn’t even come close to transferring to the personality of the artist.

Should you get the chance to hire a name act, congratulations! you will want to tell the world, and this leads me to my last tip … make sure you know what you can and cannot use on social media, blogs and other media. A sweet memory may soon be a nightmare if everything is not spelled out clearly beforehand!

Featured photo by VeroFoto LA