Thanks to the Internet, information about an artist's worth is at your fingertips. Going online and searching for results on number of tickets sold by that artist in your market is a great starting point. Pollstar provides ticket sales information, but only for venues, promoters, and artists that submit the information. A reputable talent buyer or agent should be able to provide honest information and stats about most artists. That information should include, but is not limited to, the last time the artist was in the market, what venue, ticket sales and that sixth sense of how a certain artist will do in the market.
2. Talk With Your Peers
When multiple colleagues work to route a tour together—with each one being responsible for a certain market—this brings down the costs when purchasing entertainment. When entertainment is booked in bulk, you can bring down the price substantially. A one-off event with an artist can cost 20-40% more, with most of these costs covering getting the artists, their crew and their gear to your venue. If you can spread it out over three or more dates, it sure helps everyone's bottom line.
3. Treat Your Entertainers Like House Guests
Most entertainers are on the road 150-250 days per year. When an artist and their crew show up after being on a long tour, making them feel as comfortable as possible can go a long way. When you need to get that extra meet-and-greet for a sponsor (client/high roller), or you need to cut down on your rider expenses, having that mutual respect between the artist and the promoter is invaluable. Word also travels through the industry among artists, agents and managers, so setting the bar high will have talent knocking down your door to work with you.
4. Have A Strong Brand
Money isn't everything. Artists are attracted to strong brands that are respected in their markets. They want to be a part of something reputable and exciting that will make it easier for them to sell tickets, merchandise, etc. When an entertainer wants to play your event, it's much easier to negotiate the best price than trying to talk an artist into playing your event.
5. Ask For Help
The entertainment industry can be filled with smoke and mirrors, as well as agents simply selling their roster rather than helping you build something. Don't be afraid to reach out to a friend, colleague, or a mentor if you need help. If you don't have these resources available, you can hire an event management company or talent buyer. A reputable event management company will have the resources to find out—or know off-hand—the costs associated with putting on an event. From artist costs, production costs, marketing costs a good event management company can help make sure you get the best value for your event.
BONUS TIP! You don't have to pay what the agent quotes! Remember that it is a negotiation and they need you more than you need them.