Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Meeting with a booking agent

My head is bursting with info. I had a meeting with Mark, the booking agent for Moon About. I was together with Martin and Jan, the other members of Moon About. The meeting took place at Mark's office, a modern building in an industrial park of Enschede. Mark works for B.Vip.M, an important booking agency in the Netherlands. We wanted to talk with him, because we want to play more often and for more money. We hoped he could tell us what we had to change. In other words: what are our strengths and weaknesses?

The last time I saw Mark was a year ago. He then seemed uneasy to talk to, unwilling to speak his mind. Today, he was much different. Which is another lesson I've learned: people need time to open up to you. The first meeting is never the best. So don't panic if you feel like you didn't click. It will be much better next time.
Today, Mark overloaded us with info. I hope I can reproduce some of the things he said.

These could be our weaknesses and threats:
- Always mention one price to your customers. The customers being the folks you play for. That way your customers will not be feeling cheated or ripped off.
- Related to this subject: Mark preferres a very simple pricing model. Best thing would be one price, no matter what distance you have to travel.
- Make sure you have good sound, and lighting. This is something we're lacking. Our sound is so-so, but we don't bring lights with us. We could rent them, and add that to our price.
- We should have postcards with our bandphoto on it. Make sure the bandphoto is done by a professional photographer, who is familiar with shooting bands. On the photo, the band should be dressed to kill. Wear similar clothes, it looks sharper. The clothes should be fancy, looking expensive and stylish.
- All B.Vip.M bands are playing 5 hours, 15 minute breaks included. We are only able to play 4 hours, so we should extend our repertoire.
- Go check other booking agencies. Mark won't mind, as long as you keep the same price with everyone. He mentioned Euro Entertainment. I knew about troubles they had with New Entertainment, and I noticed he would not be too happy if we would also work with them. But any other agency would be ok. This is an important point. I always thought booking agents would feel offended if you work with their competitors, but it seems to be ok to do so. He even told us we could use his name as a reference.

He saw some strengths with us:
- We are reliable. We are always friendly and professional towards our customers. Our playing is always good enough.
- We are flexible. We can move our stuff to another place during the show, or even play while moving.
- We are easily accessible for the booking agent. He doesn't need to know two weeks in advance when we can play, he needs to know RIGHT NOW. We happen to have our agenda online, so we always know exactly when we are available, all the time.

We mentioned the possibility to add a cute female violin-player to our line-up, should the customer want it. Our question is: does the customer want this? He was mildly positive about it. He noticed a large demand for trios, because of the economic decline. As a little besides, did you notice how everybody is trying to explain everything away with the help of the ever present 'economic decline'?
But nonetheless, there could be a need for a fourth member with a customer. He would keep it in mind. I know by now that he won't keep it in mind, but that it is our duty to remind him... so put it in the bio!
Speaking of the bio, it turns out to be more important than I thought, actually. Mark has only seen us once, and that's more than a year ago. He only holds a vague remembrance of Moon About. So he uses our bio to sell us to customers, actually reading out loud the bio to the customer! Anything that is written in there, literally makes its way to the customer. Naturally, the bio should be short and to the point. But it should also point out ALL our USPs. Marketing term: USP = Unique Selling Point. So I think it's time to at least go over our bio again and check if it needs updating. And it undoubtedly will.

A practical point: we should extend our repertoire with a few more Elvis songs like "Devil in Disguise". This song really improves our show a lot, because it's so different from the rest of our songs and it really grabs the audience by the balls.

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