Over the years, I have had a lot of Entertainment and Marketing people ask me to put together a series of writings on entertainment in the casino industry. Because of this request, I have put together the following series on casino entertainment. Some of these topics may seem elementary and be a refresher to some and to others I hope that I have provided some information to help make the next event a success. Hopefully, when you are done reading, you may also find a little humor and say to yourself “that couldn’t happen, “ and to some of you it does happen.
For many years, before getting into the casino business, I was a sound and lighting engineer for various artists and production companies around the country. I started in the casino business, when I began working for a production company as a sound and lighting engineer that was contracted with a local casino to supply production for numerous musical entertainment shows throughout the year. Because of my experience of working with various artists, negotiations of contracts (even writing some contract rider agreements for artists), planning various events and being a stage manager, I was asked by the casino and accepted the position of Entertainment and Promotions Manager. With my education in marketing, I started going beyond entertainment and developing marketing strategies, thus I secured a position in the marketing field of the casino industry. As a result of that decision, I now have nearly 20 years of experience with both Native American and commercial gaming organizations as a casino marketing executive. In my experience in the casino industry, entertainment and special events are always a part of the marketing department as it is considered a section of the marketing plan for acquisition, retention and reactivation of players / customers. Some of the artist and agencies would joke with me, because they knew I had been on the other side of the contract negotiations and knew that I would red line a lot of clauses of a contract before discussions even began. I am very fortunate for my experience of being on the artist / production side of the industry and the casino side of the industry. I hope that what I share in these upcoming writings will assist with making your events a little smoother and a little more successful.
Entertainment Industry Perception of Promoters and Casino Entertainment Managers / Directors – There is a difference in the two.
There is a stereo-type perception of promoters in the entertainment industry. This stereo-typed perception of a promoter is the same from the agencies, entertainment management companies, production companies, venues, etc. The perception or definition of a promoter by everyone involved with an event is:
Promoter – (noun) (sometimes an adjective as it is at times referred to as a derogatory term to describe someone) – a person that contracts the entertainment;
Now before you jump to conclusions about this definition, I will say I have had the privilege of working with a lot of great promoters that would work their butts off and would sacrifice so much to fulfill the needs of a show and I enjoyed working with them. On the other side, I have also worked with a lot of amateurs that can fit exactly into this definition or at least some form of this definition.
The Difference In Perception Between a Promoter and a Casino Entertainment Manager / Director
The Entertainment Manager / Director at some (not all) of the casinos I have had the opportunity to work with over the years came from a background of either playing in a local band and knowing a lot of the local artist in the area, or has booked a few local bands in local bars. Usually for local bands in local clubs, the negotiations for performing are pretty basic – what time does the band start? How long does the band play? What is the pay? Is the pay based on a percentage of the door? Does the club provide sound and lights? Does the band get free drinks and if so what type of drinks? Now I know this may sound basic, but for some local clubs and local bands, this is all that needs to be agreed too and I have seen it written on a napkin and signed. For national artists there is more to the agreement and it can become very detailed. For someone that has never worked with national artists and only local artists, it may seem overwhelming at times and contracts and terminology may look very foreign. It’s why I believe that anyone that is going to try and be a promoter should work as a stage hand and / or assist in different roles with a major national show and begin to understand the responsibilities of everyone involved to make a show a success.
The artist, production crew, and artist management, at times, perceives a Casino Entertainment Manager / Director has an advantage over an independent promoter and that is because of the resources of the casino. With the resources of the casino, the Casino Entertainment Manager / Promoter usually has access to hotel rooms (either on property, or off property), Food & Beverage, some form of a dressing room, some form of labor, and financial resources (artist fees, production fees, etc.). Believe it or not, some of these basic needs / resources are overlooked by independent promoters and when the crew arrives for load-in the promoter is surprised that there has to be a “meeting-of-the-minds” before load-in begins.
This is a small sample. There is so much more to discuss and in the next upcoming segments on casino entertainment we will dive in deeper into all of these areas including negotiating contracts, understanding riders, and how to get the true ROI from your entertainment and not just looking at the entertainer’s fee. Look for more in the upcoming weeks. Until next time,
Promoter Humor – Don’t become one of these punchlines to a joke:
* What do you throw a drowning promoter?
Your contract rider
* Why do promoters have a clear conscience?
Because it is unused
* What’s the difference between an honest promoter and a UFO?
People have reported seeing a UFO
* How can you tell if a promoter is dead?
Wave money around