We ask all of our musicians to make sure that they keep us updated with their availability at all times, ahead of any enquiries/quotations. Quoting 'provisionally available' (rather than a straight 'available') allows us to respond more quickly to enquiries (which don't always become bookings) without having to harass everyone every time there's an enquiry. We then re-confirm 'finally available' once the client has confirmed, at which point we would let them know if, for example, the lead vocalist isn't available after all but we can provide a deputy, giving the opportunity for the client to back out prior to the contract being signed.
It's really vital for us to know in advance any date(s) of non-availability that are likely to change or challenge the availability of the production, so that the client knows who they are booking from the outset:
Both Rocco/Alexandra can’t make 30/07/2016. Both are on retainers in Fiesta Latina, obliging musicians to update us on availability regularly; see below “Membership Certificate":
The performer will agree to keep management updated with availability at all times.
We quote 8 levels of availability.
Quoting “provisional availability” and booking deputies generally isn’t a problem unless it’s the lead vocalist. A couple of clients have noticed when we book a different vocalist from the one advertised and it’s best practice to book the advertised lineup. On the other hand, checking musicians every enquiry wastes time as 90% of enquiries don’t convert to bookings and it’s likely to create disillusionment.
It’s a tricky balance.
Therefore, we're reliant on musicians updating us on availability in advance of enquiries/quotations, as per the conditions of their retainer. But this hasn’t always happened, and the issue comes up frequently. It’s very simple to do (Red & Black Music sends an event diary every Monday at 12pm to all of its regular agents and contacts and also maintains a customer-facing Google Calendar). We're trying to get across the idea that musicians are supposed to update all managers and stakeholders in advance of enquiries/quotations so that they can quote accurately and book the lineup as advertised.
We run a separate communication called an “Advance Notification"; an email notifying musicians that an enquiry has been received and quoted for without requiring a response. These are usually used for short-notice enquiries and are only sent to the lead vocalist.
Of course, we have received our fair share of highly amusing ignorance in response to this:
On 26 Oct 2015, at 12:55, Essence Music Agency wrote:
This ignoramus critiques the exact measures detailed above we put in place to ensure that we can show them the full picture of what their clients will actually get on the night. Such irony! (note his use of the word 'busy')
Also note in previous emails he mentions "it's a band, most just get on with it." Therefore, by this logic, we automatically 'know' when a musician is or isn't available without having to even question it! View full article here.
Read, compare and contrast:
From: Warble Entertainment
We've taken on board all of the above, and it is for these reasons we both run a live calendar (here, and also via email), and also ask our musicians to keep us updated. While circumstances can work in unexpected ways, we constantly ensure we are available via these methods to reduce the chance of an 'unhappy client situation' from happening.
Read & Blog
The "Watch Blog"
Please note: full names, addresses and contact details of private individuals are omitted for data protection purposes (unless already made public elsewhere online).
A category naming and shaming unreliable musicians.
A category reporting unscrupulous venues and traders.
A category exploring the issues faced working via agents.