My article from The Coconut Telegraph, May, 2011

4 things to know about booking a  performer by Scott Youngberg.

 In response to the article “Five Essentials of Music Career Success,” by Peter Spellman (Courtesy of Dave Feder.)


As a performer, I think very “locally.” I have annual events that lead me off The Rock, but I play most of my calendar here in Key Largo / Islamorada. The article got me thinking about how different the public’s perception is from the performer’s own life experience.

Let’s say that you have a favorite local performer, and you’re having a party. This party could be at your home or in a rented room. You’ve thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get * favorite performer * play?” but never pick up the phone.

 We like to work, and you might be surprised how easy it can be to liven up your event. Considering the cost of keeping a large group’s plates and glasses full, Live entertainment is a bargain these days…

It’s the age of information and you can book many musicians by email or website contact!



1. Don’t assume that the entertainer you want to hire is too busy or too expensive.

“It never hurts to ask.” Many performers represent themselves and therefore make their contact information easily accessible. There is a good chance that a local musician will charge a local resident less than they would a corporate gig or private party for tourists. Any performer “worth their salt” recognizes the community that supports them and will do their part to give back. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so let them know.


2. Try to find a schedule and book on an “Off Day.”

Performing musicians keep a calendar, usually scheduled with weekly work at different venues. Clubs pay less than private events. There are many reasons, including public exposure where people are gathered, a pre-set food & beverage tab for the performer, an actual stage ready with power (and sometimes lighting,) and the ability to make tips and sell merchandise.. The main reason for a lower pay scale is the security of a steady work schedule, and loyalty still goes a long way for long term bookings with a history!

A performer will re-schedule a standing gig for, you guessed it, money. Try to book them on a day that doesn’t cause a re-schedule they might accept a lower offer.


3. If your event is on a date you know the performer is already booked, ask anyway but give advance notice.

No less than a month, and that’s tight. 2 or more months’ notice can allow for schedule juggling, again, for money.


4. If you have spoken with the performer about an event, but decided against it, let them know.

Confirmations happen all by themselves. “Un-confirmations” don’t. They just hang in space. If the date was “in pencil,” a more ruthless person will just sell the date. Another will take the time to track you down to see if it’s on or off. Neither is guaranteed. While a musician’s night mare is to not show up for the show, showing up when there is no show isn’t that great, either.