Is touring personnel and equipment really necessary?
As with most complex questions the answer is, it depends. The cost of travel and accommodation is significant, often the biggest single budget item. Experienced people and equipment can be found in almost any location that shows and event occur, so it's reasonable to wonder if some or all of this could be source locally.
There are a many hidden factors that impact the decision, not least of which is the local cost of people and equipment. Surprisingly (or maybe not so) local suppliers price to what the market will bear. Some of this is legitimate prep, some is smart business. A piece of equipment may rent, arbitrarily, for $2,500 a week for a three-week tour. A similar piece of gear may rent for $1,000 a day locally sourced. If your event is a quick 'hit and run', with three or four stops a week, the weekly rate starts to look better. Multiply that by the full technical component of the show.
Operators are a different story. A good operator can make lesser equipment perform magic; an inexperienced operator can make even top-tier equipment seem perfunctory. You have undertaken the event to communicate a message, build relationships or enhance your brand. Good operators are the difference between stellar results and pretty good.
That is not to say that most of the labour cannot and should not be sourced locally. The touring contingent can be limited to supervisors and key operators. These people ensure consistency of delivery and a consistent presentation that stands out from the crowd.
Big-name performers may not have the impact you're expecting.
It's a milestone occasion for the firm and what better way to punctuate the significance of the event than having a legendary entertainer perform at the gala. Recent changes in the music business mean that virtually everyone is available - for a fee, which itself can be arresting. However there are other implications to consider.
Despite being the 'universal language,' music is very age specific. As little as a ten year shift in event demographic can negate the impact of a performer that a percentage of your audience views as a nostalgia act, or worse, has no idea who they are. Music is also intensely personal. What zings the strings of one person's heart may be like nails on a calk-board for others (if you'll pardon the old-time references).
Keep in mind that the fee is just part of the financial commitment. You will also be on the hook for 'production' - industry jargon for sound, lights and staging, as well as transportation, accommodation and expenses. In extreme cases the total of the additional costs could be as much as the fee.
When a big-name act is on tour they come with their own production package, their show, so to speak. Artists doing 'privates' typically come with only their 'universal', another bit of industry jargon referring to the key components the artist requires for every show, things like their sound console, microphones, monitors (in-ear or floor monitors) and the effects rack. They will provide you with a technical rider specifying in detail what other equipment they need; the bigger the name, the more complex the requirements.
What does a big-name artist cost? Depending on the stature of the artist, the fee could be anywhere between $200K and several million dollars. There are many agencies that specialize in negotiating these kinds of agreements. Having someone knowledgeable on your side is paramount. The fee is going to be a significant amount but the real devil is in the details.
What artists are available? As mentioned, these are strange times in the music biz. Once considered anathema, doing 'privates' is now a welcomed revenue source for most. If your bank account can withstand the attack, you can have no lesser luminaries than Adele, Sir Elton John, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Sir Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Michael Bublè, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams or Jimmy Buffet at your next event, to name but a few.
Understanding our many peccadilloes helps create success.
Events are people and a well crafted presentation must take into account not only the needs of a particular constituency but also the needs of people in the macro sense. We all belong to various constituencies; employee, aficionado, supporter, even genre music lover, but as people we have basic needs that should not be given short shrift. For example, we all need a certain amount of personal space. Interestingly that requirement varies quite dramatically depending on the nature of the activity. At a concert we can get by with as little as 1 sq/m but at a mall, anything less that 4 sq/m will cause us to leave.
The purpose of most presentations is communication but if people become uncomfortable they will not listen. Employees at a company function are obliged to stay, the public is not. There are many books documenting the things we need to remain engaged or more correctly, what prevents us from doing so. Here are three books of potential interest.
"TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking" by Chris Anderson
TED Talks are all about communication, in an environment that can be described as nothing short of marathon. Topics are eclectic, to say the least, and yet the main TED event is pretty much a sell-out every year. What's their secret? The book is full of useful information on how to structure a talk, how to be funny and how to best deal with the inevitable butterflies that accompany public speaking. After analyzing thousands of talks, the author's comments are cogent and deeply insightful.
"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini
This is a well-researched look at what influences our decision-making and how much impact small changes in wording or the order in which information is delivered have on what motivates us.
We all believe our choices to be rational and perfectly reasonable but, in fact, many hidden forces we are not aware of play a significant role. Some of the peculiarities described are truly bewildering. The experiments have been repeated hundreds of times with thousands of people and the results remain consistent. Ariely is also a popular TED Talk presenter.
All three books are available at most libraries. Hope you have an opportunity to check them out.