During this past week, I was working with the booking department, which handles venues in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Specifically, I shadowed the booker for the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Southern Illinois, and Iowa. The booking office is responsible for booking, advancing, managing, and settling the shows at their venues. Basically, booking means to secure an act for a show, advancing is hashing out the details for the show, the booker is responsible for problem solving on the day of show, and afterwards the booker settles, meaning to calculate the financials and write the final checks. Much of this work is done with the artist’s agent, who negotiates numbers like what the artist is guaranteed to make, how they will split merchandise profit, etc.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the final Vans Warped Tour, which has been running annually for 20 some years now. The Warped Tour is a large, touring, one day festival of pop/punk/rock bands. Being that this was the last year of the tour, ticket sales were very high and at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre it sold out. I got the opportunity to settle the show, which was very cool to see in real time. Since the show sold out, no more tickets were being sold meaning we were able to settle the show while it was still happening. Normally the tour manager would collect the check for the artist, but being such a large tour it had a separate accountant who we worked with.
One thing I think worth mentioning and something I find interesting isthe way a show makes money. In reality, many shows will lose thousands and thousands of dollars. A very standard profit split between the artist and promoter (Live Nation) is 90/10 percent, respectively. So how do companies like Live Nation stay in the business? The answer is alcohol. Ancillaries like food and alcohol sales will do several hundreds of thousands of dollars at a large amphitheater like Hollywood Casino, which makes taking only 10% of the profit split not a big deal. Of course, this is not always the case, sometimes ticket prices are high enough and sell well enough to cover all costs, but both scenarios are very common.
Booking is one of the aspects I am most interested in within the music industry and a place I have some prior experience, so I was glad to experience it in such a large capacity.