Recapping the IEBA Conference | Nashville, TN

This post originally appeared on ECE’s All Access blog on 11/07/2016.

For every Tim McGraw festival show or ZZ Top private performance there is a team of agents, managers, talent buyers, and tour crew behind the scenes negotiating contracts, setting up sound/lights, and making sure everything runs smoothly. National talent buying is something EastCoast Entertainment is known for globally and now more than ever we are proud to say we are a multi-award winning team of specialists committed to putting on the highest quality shows for you and your client.

A few weeks ago we recognized Mark Letson, ECE partner and National Talent Buying Director, who was named by IEBA as the 2016 Corporate Buyer of the Year and I was lucky enough to be sitting in the audience when his name was called. As a first time attendee of the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s (IEBA) annual conference I wanted to share a few national buying trends and the reason it’s important to use a specialist when planning your event.

CONFERENCE IMPORTANCE
The IEBA annual conference is held in Nashville (my adopted hometown) every year and offers a chance for buyers to meet face to face with booking agents, artists and their colleagues in the entertainment industry. It’s three days full of networking mixers, showcases and hotel room meetings that allows agents and artists alike to fill their calendars for the next year or more. Being the new guy in town, I got a chance to sit and observe Mark and ECE Atlanta Location Managing Director/Partner Rick Stowe meet with the heads of agencies like William Morris, CAA and APA. It was exciting to see the respect they were given and the longstanding business and personal relationships they held with the people responsible for the careers of everyone from Mariah Carey to Eric Church. No one else could get these type of deals done and Mark and Rick do it with a smile while swapping stories about kids and sports.

There is a hierarchy to everything and this conference is not unique. It features professionals who buy for everything from small county fairs to the heads of Coachella and nationally recognized venues like the Ryman and Madison Square Garden. The way I see it, the higher in the hotel you are meeting, the higher the dollar amounts being discussed. Deals were being struck in the hotel lobby, on the Penthouse floor and the highest dollar dates (and the best stories) are discussed over expensive meals lasting several courses/hours. As a fly on the wall, I heard breaking news about partial reunions, global tours for artists who swore they’d never play together again, and much more. These meetings are the reason EastCoast Entertainment is on the cutting edge year after year. Respect and trust are earned and with 20+ years and thousands of successful shows under our belts most of these agents can’t wait to share the exciting things their artists are up to for the coming year with our team.

TRENDS
The value in the IEBA conference is talking with buyers from across the country about what’s working in their markets, where they see the industry heading and experiencing the agency artist showcases together. Both young artists and globally recognized names are given four song sets to display their talents and, man, is it a good time. Here are the three types of artists that are trending this year:

Legacy Acts
These are the bands who have consistently cranked out hit album after album and have decades of performing under their belts. They are guaranteed to provide a family/corporate friendly show with a song list featuring recognizable song after song. This year we saw LeAnn Rimes, Sister Hazel, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Commodores, Three Dog Night, Lou Gramm, The Spinners, Rick Astley, and more.

Internet/Reality TV Sensations
These faces are instantly recognizable to anyone under the age of 20 and some stars of shows like American Idol are household names. Most of these artists show up at fairs, festivals, and events like large scale mall openings where the audience is full of young kids, teenagers, and their parents. This year we saw Danny Gokey, Jordan Fisher, Kane Brown, Megan & Liz, and more.

Keep an eye out for these artists at your local fairs and festivals this year and be sure to contact EastCoast Entertainment if you’d like to provide your clients and guests with the chance of a lifetime to see their favorite artists in a private or corporate setting.

Here is a picture of Mark Letson hanging with Garth Brooks backstage at the awards ceremony!

ECE National Agent Life: BTS With Superstar, Trace Adkins

 

 

This post originally appeared on ECE’s All Access Blog on 4/11/2018. 

Imagine hearing the phrase, “Mornin’, sir. Glad to be here,” uttered to you in a deep, gravelly baritone by one of the most recognizable personalities in country music history. While I’ve worked with multiple celebrity artists over the years, I still feel a chill of excitement each and every time I’m on-site for an ECE National date. This event featuring Trace Adkins proved to be no different.

Held at the Patsy Cline Theater in Winchester, VA – a small town about an hour and a half from D.C. – the show was a benefit concert for the Winchester Education Foundation. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at the excitement (and blood, sweat, and tears) that surrounds a celebrity talent event.

Tuesday, March 13 // Winchester, VA // Day Before Show

5:15 PM
 – Arrived in Winchester after a 2.5 hour drive from Richmond. Head directly to the Patsy Cline Theater at Handley High School.

6:00 PM – Production load in begins. The gear is serious: speakers, long cords, and subwoofers the size of Priuses. The school’s electrician is unable to make it so the crew sets up all the gear so that all we have to do in the morning is plug and play. They ended up re-routing power from the football field’s scoreboard to accommodate the show!

6:30 PM – Ride with the client to Walmart to pick up various items like tablecloths, plastic utensils/plates, sweet tea, chips, and hand towels for backstage.

8:30 PM – Head to hotel to get some sleep. The day begins less than 12 hours from now and there are still a few t’s to cross before the AM.

Wednesday, March 14 // Winchester, VA // Show Day!

7:15 AM – Arrive at Handley High School to find three busses and a semi truck already parked and ready to back in. Trace travels with a bus for his 10-person crew, a bus for his 6-person band, a personal bus, and a semi-truck packed end to end with gear.

7:20 AM – Annual “backing of the busses”. The school has a fenced breezeway about 100 yards long that separates one side of the building from the other. A door at the very rear of the breezeway offers direct access to the backstage area so the semi truck backed in first so gear can be offloaded and then busses backed in one by one to allow a private space, guarded by a uniformed police officer, for band and crew to go back and forth to hospitality area and stage.

7:30 AM – Gave Trace’s tour manager a tour of the venue and began placing signs around the venue. A dressing room downstairs under the stage was designated “Trace Only”, a teacher’s workroom was transformed into “Trace Adkins Production Crew ONLY”, and the stage door was marked “Backstage: Laminate Access Only”.

8:00 AM – The Patsy Cline Theater sits smack dab in the middle of Handley High School. Patsy Cline was a Winchester native and a lifelike cardboard cutout of her in a country western outfit holds a place of honor in the wings. Since the event takes place on a school day we had to take special care to work around the school’s schedule. We loaded in sound gear and lights between bell schedules, kindly reminded teachers and students that they would need to find alternate places to store their lunches and facetime with pen pals since we’d be using their workroom as a hospitality suite, and even had to pause all work during a “walkout” in honor of the Parkland shooting victims.

8:30 AM – Breakfast and coffee is served. Bleary-eyed crew guys and band members stumble off the busses and begin exploring venue. Cracker Barrel catering provided country home cooking and plenty of maple syrup which spoke straight to these Tennessee boys’ hearts.

10:00 AM – The doors to the semi truck are opened and load in begins. We have a local crew, plus Shenandoah University football players to act as loaders. Road cases containing band gear, staging, backdrop elements, lights, and sound equipment are numbered 1-49. Once case containing stage pieces weighed 1200 pounds!

12:00 PM – Lunch is served. Trace’s crew and band enjoyed hot soup, Philly cheesesteaks, and grilled hot dogs from the Piccadily Public House restaurant in Winchester (a local landmark). Trace did emerge from his bus to grab a quick bite after the rest of the crew had cleared out. He had a ball cap pulled low as I walked up to introduce myself. I said, “Mr. Adkins, I’m the event producer today and we are thankful to have you here. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make you more comfortable.” With a quick handshake and a rumbling, “Glad to be here,” he headed back to his bus.

1:00 PM – Sound system and lighting tuning begin. Spotlights mounted high on the ceiling were focused one by one on where band members will be standing. A crew member was responsible for standing behind each instrument and fine-tuning the amount and direction of light for each band member. The lighting director spent 30 minutes digging through various colored “gel” sheets and finally selected some reds, purples, and blues that would balance the white light of the spotlights on stage.

3:00 PM – The stage is fully set. Band members arrive for sound check and begin noodling on guitars, tuning drums, and talking about the song list. The band’s keyboard player serves as the musical director and had the band run through a few trouble spots in the set for practice. He sang Trace’s parts and while they played, the lighting director began programming the moving lights and stage backdrops for the performance later that night. Trace remained on the bus until minutes before the first note was played at 8 PM and the first time he touched a guitar was onstage during the first song! He obviously trusts his team and most guys said they’d been with him for over a decade.

5:00 PM – Dinner is served for band and crew. Carabbas brought a full spread of lasagna, pasta, salad, their infamous bread with olive oil, and meatballs in red sauce. Most of the band ate early and then headed back to the busses to change into their stage attire. The crew ate quick and got back to tuning guitars and preparing the stage.

7:00 PM – Doors open. The entire lobby is packed and a line snakes the length of the high school and out the door. A country music playlist is piped into the lobby and attendees excitedly shopped for Trace Adkins t-shirts, posters, custom license plates, and CDs. One couple even paid close to $500 for a signed acoustic guitar and a chance to meet Trace after the show!

7:30 PM – The 30-minute Meet & Greet with Trace begins. Twenty VIP sponsors got the chance to shake Trace’s hand and get a photo. He greeted each with a, “Howdy, ma’am,” or, “Howdy, sir,” and a tip of his large black cowboy hat.

8:00 PM – The band is in place and starts intro. I wait side stage with Trace and his tour manager. The lights go dark and Trace takes his place in front of the mic. The lights come up as a sold-out crowd lets out a deafening cheer. During the show, Trace picks up his acoustic guitar for several songs, tells stories and meanings behind some of his most popular songs, and jokes on his band members for things like having wrinkled shirts. He makes a special point to reinforce the importance of education and fundraisers like the Patsy Cline Classic.

9:15 PM – Trace ends his set with an encore, a quick wave, and a backstage exit. I was waiting backstage and as he exited he shook my hand, thanked me for bringing him in, and said: “I hope they got their money’s worth.” The second the auditorium clears the crew begins breaking down equipment and packing up the cases they emptied just a few hours earlier.

12:00 AM
 – The final case is loaded into the semi-truck and the doors are shut. The band and crew board their buses.

12:15 AM – The buses pulled out of the breezeway and head for the open road. The band bus, crew bus, and semi were headed back to Nashville. Trace and his tour manager were headed to the airport to rejoin Blake Shelton on his arena tour in Columbus, OH.

I slowly walked back to my car sitting in the empty high school parking lot. I made the short drive back to the hotel across the street from Shenandoah University. I was barely able to get my shoes off before falling asleep with the words to “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” scrolling through my mind…

Behind the Scenes at the ACC Championship FanFest

This post originally appeared on ECE’s All Access blog on 1/11/2016.

Anyone who has ever been to an outdoor music festival knows how much fun they can be. The energy and excitement of the crowd is electric as the artist takes the stage and gives a blowout performance. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to make this type of event a killer success? Doug Daniel gives us an inside look at his day producing the entertainment for the ACC Championship Game’s FanFest.

Here we go. Buckle up. It’s here. December 5, 2015. Game day. ACC Championship day. The good. The bad. The ugly. The day I have been working on for the past nine months. Show day. FanFest day.

Ok, so let me back up a little. For the past few years since Charlotte was awarded the ACC Championship, I have worked with my friends over at Raycom Sports and the ACC Network to book acts for the annual FanFest that leads up to kickoff of the ACC Championship Football Game. I am lucky to have these friends and this year is going to be the best one yet for me. The game sold out back in what feels like 2005 (73,000+ tickets!). There’s not a ticket to be had. It’s going to be wall to wall fans at FanFest…….aaaaannnd I should mention that I’m a little excited because I’m an alumni of one of the schools playing in the game. Go Heels!

This year’s menu of acts is all Country! We start with young up-and-comer, Tucker Beathard, as the opener. Dustin Lynch then takes the stage later in the day, and we conclude with Tyler Farr as our headliner. All acts have been great leading up to the day. All the sound gear, production and hospitality have been advanced. The “red M&Ms” have all been bought, the stage is built and we’re ready to roll. I get to bed around midnight which is doing really good for me. I’m confident. Until……

5:44am – I get this text from my production manager, John: “Farr’s bus down. I may switch headliner.” Instantly, I know the day is off to a good start! @#$% So, let me explain the number one rule of producing a show – stuff is going to go wrong. Period. Heck, if it didn’t why do I even need to be there, right?! What I’m always hoping for, though, are small “fires” to put out. Those small brush fires are manageable. What I hope to avoid are the super, giant California- burn-your-whole-neighborhood -down fires. The good news is that there are only a handful of problems that would be a fire of that magnitude. The headliner’s bus breaking down? Yep, that’s one of them. Day on!

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Needless to say, I start blowing up the tour manager’s phone, email and text until I finally reach him at…

7:00am – We talk. He tells me that they did have a breakdown in West Virginia, but they took care of the problem right away and are still on schedule for a 9am arrival in Charlotte. He’s rolling in with two tour buses, towing two trailers and all are arriving on time.

7:45am – Runner arrives. This is maybe the most important part of the day. They say that working “on top” of a show rather than “in” a show is the key to successful management. Without these important people, I am dead in the water. They move the band members around from hotel to venue to music stores to restaurants — just about everywhere. They fight traffic, they make sure the artists are happy, fed and rested. Always remember: happy artists put on good shows. These guys are super important and, basically, one of the biggest reasons I stay even close to sane on show day. I have the best team this year. Chris is coordinating everything with Kolbe and Eric assisting. The A-Team!

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8:50am – Tyler Farr arrives with both buses. Kolbe makes sure all the rider stuff is delivered to the buses and then starts to work on getting the bus drivers over to the hotel for some well needed rest after the overnight drive. This is pretty standard. These guys are nocturnal for sure. Overnight drives and lots of day sleeping gets them ready to roll into the next town every day.

Load in starts. John gets the union labor moving. I believe that we may actually have a concert later!

8:55am – Dustin Lynch’s buses arrive. No bus drama. No breakdowns. Just two tour buses rolling into backstage with some tired drivers and hungry crew.

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9:10am – Everyone seems good. I venture out from the backstage area to talk with the crew and check out all the production and staging.

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10:30am -Tyler Farr’s people finally have everything in place and we’re ready for sound check. Checked and done. They retreat back to their buses in search of Eric and Kolbe for a food run soon. If you can’t tell, food is a pretty popular topic the day of any show — where to get it, how much of it and when’s the next meal coming?!

11:00am – Dustin starts loading in and will be checked by 12:30pm if all goes well. There’s a method to the madness when it comes to producing three acts on one stage. You always load the headliner in first and do sound check. Then you load the support act in front (downstage) and sound check. Last, you load the opener in further downstage and sound check. That way, when each finishes later in the day, you strike and work your way back upstage until you get back to the headliner.

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12:00 noon – Tucker Beathard arrives. Now this is a super young up-and -comer that management almost gave to us for the chance for him to share the stage with Dustin and Tyler in front of the thousands of people we are expecting. Crew is the nicest ever and I’m instantly glad we added them.

1:00pm – Tucker loads in. At this point, he just stays up there and…

2:00pm – Tucker takes the stage! FanFest kicks off and the 2015 version is underway! I also happened to find this guy roaming close to backstage. I immediately abuse my position of authority and have security make sure he knows who’s in charge.

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2:15pm – Dustin Lynch Meet and Greet. As part of the sponsorship deals that are put together, we always leverage face time with the artists. A chance to meet the artists and take a photo goes a long way toward creating happy sponsors and clients. This is a good one. Dustin is friendly, ready to shake a bunch of hands and smile a lot. It’s going to be a good day.

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2:30pm – I take Dustin to meet the guys from FOX TV. They knock out a quick interview backstage.

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2:45pm – Tucker is killing it. Crowd is building and it’s EARLY!

3:00pm – Tucker’s show has wrapped. One down!

3:30pm – Dustin Lynch takes the stage. This dude looks like a real Country artist — t-shirt a little smaller than it was intended, large hat and boots. The math all adds up… he’s going to be big one day.

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4:15pm -Tyler Farr Meet and Greet. Meanwhile, we recreate the exact same scenario with Tyler for the sponsors. This guy! He looks like your buddy who wants to join you out on a Saturday night and drink a few PBRs — beard, unassuming, friendly, jovial. Maybe this is one of my tailgate buddies punking me.

4:30pm – FOX TV loves this guy. Turns out he’s a GA Bulldogs fan and his wife went to South Carolina. They still ask him whom he’s cheering for… and in perfectly coached PR speak, he says that he’s just “hoping for a good game.”

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4:45pm – Interview over and on the way back to the tour buses. I notice I’ve lost track of Tyler. He was just right here. What the what?!

Mystery solved, I just spotted him. He left backstage to join a tailgate with Clemson fans. This guy is making the best of the day for sure! Although, I’m starting to worry that they may have influenced him into becoming a Clemson fan.

4:50pm – Ever heard of a Twitter Mirror? Me neither. ACC Network’s manager of social media introduces the idea to me for Dustin and Tyler. Basically, it’s an iPad set inside this cool looking mirror. You use it to take a selfie and it has a direct link to tweet it out immediately.

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I’m told that all the cool artists are doing this. He said Taylor Swift even carries one out on tour. I told him that you had me at “Taylor Swift.”

So I jump up on stage left, tell the tour manger the whole deal, Dustin then grabs it… and then this gem goes out into the world instantly!

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5:00pm – Dustin Lynch wraps up. He retreats to the bus for a little rest after what was a great show. Client went crazy. Crowd was the biggest we’ve ever had for a support act and I’m starting to think that some of the people showing up for the game might have been doing a little “pre-gaming” already. Two down!

5:15pm – These two girls whom apparently fell in love with Dustin plead their way with Chris to meet him. I text the tour manager. It doesn’t go over very well. I’m told to “make them go away.” I leave Chris in charge!

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5:30pm – Tyler takes the stage. Crowd is huge. Biggest ever. Tens of thousands. I go up on stage with the band. People as far as we can see.

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6:00pm – Tyler plays a country cover of “Turn Down For What!” I like this guy.

6:15pm – Twitter Mirror makes a second cameo of the day. The social world will never be the same.

7:00pm – Tyler is off. Whew… what a show! Load out begins. Tucker and Dustin’s gear was long ago struck. Tucker rolled out about 5pm. He was gigging later that night at a local bar in Charlotte. Two a days — hard working new artist!

Crew and union guys busting it out. The faster they bounce, the faster John can start getting his gear out. With a game that will be over by probably 11:30pm and 73,000 fans leaving at the same time… every minute counts. John is running stuff like a general in the middle of battle. Everyone gets their marching orders and I try to stay out of the way viewing the carnage.

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The bus drivers will get picked up later. All meals and hospitality are complete and everyone is basking in the glow of a good and smooth day.

My client seems happy, I now know that Twitter Mirror is a thing, all three artists thanked me and vice versa. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. I make sure my world is buttoned up and I leave Chris in charge. He knows I’ll be close by if anything pops up, because… I’M GOING TO THE GAME!

8:00pm – Game kicks off

9:45pm – My son and my dad met me down at the stadium. Three generations of Daniels at the game and the only way it could be a better day would be if my alma mater would be leading.

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10:30pm – I get the word that Dustin’s buses just rolled out. All is running smoothly, so I stick around in the stadium to watch my Heels start to come back.

11:30pm – Game over. It wasn’t meant to be for UNC, but it was a game and a few plays that are going to be talked about for a long while. It was a close loss to a good team and at the end of the day, I’m happy we made it to the Championship for the first time. Of course, I’d rather we had closed the day with a win, but it just wasn’t in the cards today.

12:00 midnight – Tyler’s buses take off and production is all most entirely gone. John is gone. Chris is gone. Buses are gone. I’m gone and headed straight to bed. I plan to sleep my way through any 5:44am texts that may come in tomorrow. 2015 is in the books and I’ll be ready to jump back on 2016 in a couple months. Goodnight.

Celebrity Talent Within Reach: ECENational.com is Live!

This post originally appeared on ECE’s All Access blog on 6/5/2018.

You are officially one step closer to your favorite celebrity! ECE National, a division of EastCoast Entertainment, is thrilled to announce the launch of its new website – www.ecenational.com.

The website educates consumers on the celebrity talent buying process, provides ideas on the types of artists available for booking, and touts the benefits of partnering with ECE National (Hello, worry-free artist procurement and production!).

Visit the site today to start planning your next star-studded event!

VISIT ECENATIONAL.COM