Assuming you have the budget to fund a private gig, what are you getting yourself into? Well, if you’re not sure, you might as well not even bother to inquire. “No agent is going to sell an act to a client that doesn’t know how to produce a show,” cautions Ben Bernstein, a personal appearance agent at the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills who specializes in private gigs. “Ninety-nine percent of end clients don’t have production experience, and the last thing we want to do is get a band into a situation where they can’t perform.”
In such circumstances, Bernstein typically recommends potential clients a production company, such as CK Entertainment.. Such firms can handle everything from negotiating a reasonable price from a booking agent to acting as a liaison between artist and client, to actually producing the show. “Often private clients have no idea what they’re responsible for,” notes Carey Kleiman with CK Entertainment who oversees some 40 private gigs a year. “They hear a price and they say, ‘Great!’ But when they find out what goes into mounting a show, they’re dumbfounded.”
For starters, every performance contract has a production rider, which spells out the nuts and bolts required: staging, lights, sound equipment and the rest. For “one-off” private gigs that are not coordinated within a tour schedule, bands typically prefer to rent sound equipment rather than transport their own, requiring the production company to cut deals with local sources. Every band needs a green room in which to cool out before the show and dressing rooms as well–and chances are your master bedroom won’t cut it. Then there are the catering necessities pre- and post-show for both band and their crew. And don’t forget about adequate parking for all the semis and catering trucks it’s going to take to haul everything to the performance site.
Then there’s insurance coverage in all its maddening detail. John Roskopf, senior director of Tave Risk Management in Northbrook, Ill., recommends clients conduct a thorough examination of liability exposures.
In the end, are private gigs worth it? For the true fan, there could only be one answer–of course they are! Be advised, that your true fan status doesn’t count for squat in the cut-throat music business. Indeed, it may actually be a detriment. “The true fan is the thing that scares performers the most, because you’ll be all over them,” says Carey Kleiman, managing partner of CK Productions, which has booked acts ranging from rap to country to Christian for private and corporate clients around the country. “Whether it’s a $30,000 act or a $1.5 million act, you need to make it a professional production form start to finish.”