Seven Ways to Get In-Tune with Today’s Entertainment Model

Challenges and opportunities in casino entertainment 2023

In today’s entertainment world, there have been a lot of changes and challenges following our bout with COVID (yes … it is STILL impacting us) and creating issues that affect our entertainment business.

Here are seven key areas to think about:

1. Increasing artist’s cost and fees due to labor issues

The issues casinos face with finding qualified employees, cross over to the artist side as well as the production company’s side too. Many of those qualified workers have taken other jobs and do not want to be on the road away from their families. They want more money and benefits. The touring business costs have increased 20-40% for basic labor as well as drivers for buses and trucks. On top of that, there increased demand for qualified tour managers, sound engineers and lighting directors. Bus rentals/leases have gone through the roof, and you all know – gas is not cheap.

2. Balance increased costs with updated ticket pricing

It’s the trickle-down scenario. We are finding that quality is more important than quantity. It’s more important to bring that special Artist to your property than just filling the space, because we need something going on. Top tier or P1 & P2 ticket scaling has increased exponentially. Casinos are finding that P1 & P2 tickets can be much higher, and, in many marketplaces, pricing has been successful in the $300 – $400 price point range, allowing you to keep your GA tickets priced more reasonably.

3. Then there is the shortage of “A” list acts

For the larger venues, max cap 3000 – 5000, there is only so much inventory to go around and when it comes to regional availability, it’s further limited by radius clauses and routing. The big festivals have introduced radius clauses that can take a group out of your area for a year. 200-mile radius clauses are more common and for the headliners, they don’t want that Artist playing and/or advertising 90-120 days prior to their show and 60-90 days following their show. See how impactful this is? That festival will typically have several acts playing as support for that large headliner, and the radius clause impacts their regional plays as well.

4. Opportunity: Be more aggressive!

Know that you are going to have to pay more for your Artist. Know that all of your costs have escalated. Plan accordingly. This is where an experienced talent buyer is really worth the weight of their experience in gold. As buyers, it’s more and more important to bring routing in a region together rather than trying to be a stand-alone date/offer. Agencies want mutually agreeable offers with mutually agreeable dates. Then you can get strung out for months while they decide what they are going to do. Today being pro-active is very important – we are already in the planning stages for 2024. Make sure you have expiration dates on your offer sheet. Network with non-competitive venues. Have back up options and don’t be afraid to say no.

5. Work on putting together your “wish list”

Know the real pricing. Understand that routing is crucial in today’s touring strategy. Be open to off days, not just the weekend. When you bring a special act in, it isn’t going to matter what day of the week it is. Besides, weekend entertainment usually drives away your core customers.

6. Re-think your entertainment program

Add diversity and variety, and you will reach a broader range of customers. We have found that Hispanic Artists and old-school Hip-Hop Artists really draw people in.

7. Get in tune with today’s entertainment model

Be open to new ideas. If you are bringing in quality entertainment and marketing/advertising properly you will win out in the long run. Make sure you allow enough time for new programs to develop. Sometimes it takes awhile to get your customers educated. Patience and due diligence will pay off.

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