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Mike Esterman - Celebrity Booking Agent interview for UtoldUsTo continue the topic of paid celebrity appearances at  nightclubs we got together with Mike Esterman – currently the most renown Celebrity Booking Agent. He is a CEO of Esterman.Com, agency that currently represents over 200 reality TV stars, music artists, models, actors and movie industry kings and queens. Currently himself a celebrity, Mike shares with us his story, gems and pitfalls of his industry and his opinion about the future of nightclub promotions.

Mike, please tell us how did you start.

It all began when I was about 16. I was a dancer entering various local competitions. One of them was “American Bandstand”, 50-80s version of “So You Think You Can Dance”. I spent eight months on “Bandstand” as a spotlight dancer, six months on “Dance Party USA,” and on the others maybe a few months after. While having very active nightlife I got introduced to nightclub business and began assisting a local Washington nightclub owner. Part of my job was act as a VIP host for the artists and celebrities that performed at our venue.

So, you acted as a Promoter for a Washington club?

Yes. I organized promotions and created new ways to popularize our venue such as record release parties, listening parties, after-concert parties, music video locations, etc., many of these concepts were still new at that time in Washington.

When exactly did you officially open the agency?

In 1998. While promoting a club, I developed contacts and established friendships with most of the artists I met. As I was in contact with music stars I started to be approached by other venues who were interested in booking talent at their clubs and events throughout Maryland. I realized that my heart was in talent management and went to open Esterman Entertainment, a full service talent booking company. I began receiving calls from promoters and club owners like Angel Sanchez, Philip Neary and Kevin Novak outside Maryland to set up after-concert parties for artists performing in their cities. Now I work with club owners worldwide like Mike L. in London and Eddie Perez in Dubai.

Who were your first celebrity clients?

Roger Lodge of blind Date TV Show, Carmen Electra and Rob Base and EZ Rock to name a few…

My current celebrity list is long and growing.  I work with many artists such as Kim Kardashian, Pamela Anderson, Antonio Sabato Jr., Tito Ortiz, Garth Brooks, Jessica Simpson, Don King, Paris Hilton, Carmen Electra, Mario Lopez. I also work on events and after parties for music artists like, POISON, Third Eyed Blind, 3 Doors Down, Lady GaGa, Jay Sean, Colby O’Donis, Alicia Keys, Usher, Nelly, Beyonce, Fabolous, P. Diddy, Vince Neil, LL Cool among others.

What are the types of events various types of celebrities commonly appear at, and what they are expected to do?

Music artists like events that promote their business. These include album release parties, concert promotions, music festival after parties etc. Music artists are often expected to perform when booked at events, play a song or a few. This makes a great win-win for both clubs and artists.

Models and movie stars are a fit for a wide range of appearances that span from meet & greet, conventions, health clubs, radio stations, nightclubs, autograph signings, hosting contests or promotional campaigns of their shows or movies to the public.

We hear sensations such as Paris Hilton being paid $350,000 for a few hour club appearance. Is it really that expensive to book a celebrity?

No, it is quite affordable for most of venues. It is true that the price can range anywhere from $500 to a few millions. It all depends on a celebrity profile, scale of the event and how many people are involved. Playboy models and reality TV stars are very affordable. There is a difference between a Playboy model and a Playboy Playmate though. You can get a model for about $500. A Playmate is about $1000. You can get reality stars, kids from MTV shows like The Real World and Laguna Beach or The Bachelor for about $1000.

When we are talking a private concert, say, Justin Timberlake, price can shoot over $2 million. But remember, a concert takes time to prepare, there is a back vocal and dance team attached in addition to full blown music entourage that comes on stage with the artist. Payoffs are also different. Private concert will typically get ticket sales, on occasion it is a corporate event and budget is allocated in advance.

What should a venue keep in mind when booking a celebrity?

Celebrities are very busy people, they work long schedules and often book 12 months ahead. Clubs should always keep this in mind as it will help them get right people and for the better price. As a part of booking arrangement a venue is expected to cover a flight, hotel, meals and ground transportation. If the celebrity is already going to be in your area, that’s a good way to save money on travel because you don’t have to pay for some of it. For example, many of the MTV Real World kids go around the country speaking at different colleges and like to pick up a nightclub appearance as well. Or a musician who is already performing a concert on Thursday may want to pick up a nightclub appearance on Friday. Then you don’t have to pay for airfare, just an extra hotel room night.

Knowing who will be in your area is often tricky. I list the ones I do know about on my Web site at www.Esterman.com. If it is a music star, you most likely can get their schedule off their website, or check the ticketmaster.com to see who is in your area during the dates you are working on to fill.

What is the process of booking a talent through you?

First, you tell me a few names you want to book. You can check my website for ideas. If a name you are interested in is not there, I can still contact them and make them an offer. The ones who are listed on my web site are actively looking to book these types of engagements, so it may be easier to get them as a result. If you don’t have names or ideas, you can tell me what kind of event you are doing or perhaps type of celebrity: film, model, music, reality TV and I will make a few recommendations.

So you choose a celebrity, tell me how much you’re willing to spend. Then, I make the offer to the celebrity, and if they’re available I draw up a contract and you put down a deposit. It’s that easy. Contract is more than just a bunch of legal terms, in fact, it’s nothing like that. It is a working schedule that spells out everything you need to know in advance about your actions, celebrity responsibilities and mine.

What happens if a star cancels? Has it ever happened?

When cancellations happen which are very rare, the purchaser gets their deposit refunded and a new date may be scheduled.

What is venue responsibility in area of security?

The purchaser always provides the security requested in each instance per the rider which usually includes only 1 personnel assign to them at the venue.

Besides the daily business is there anything new and unusual you are working on now?

I’m now in the process of expanding the scope of operations by venturing into new areas of branding and entertainment. I will be working with E! TV to produce its own TV show “The Real Life Entourage” type of program to highlight the daily grind that goes on behind the scene to make the end result possible to book any celebrity at any location worldwide.

You can see some of my past TV appearances here: http://www.youtube.com/estermanentertainmen

Another area of development is to provide in-house marketing and endorsements for clients and some Management roles with select clients where needed.

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First time in my life I visited Wine Bar in New York few years ago. Although name speaks for itself, wine bars are more than just bars that serve wine. In most cases, they exclusively serve wine for drinks, and also very yummy appetizer food.  Often there will be quite loud music, very dark lightning and because of rather small size you will experience home like atmosphere. Wine bars feel very cozy, and after few glasses of well selected wine, you will feel content.

The concept of wine bar is gaining popularity because of great business model. Wine has high margin and appetizer food does not require gourmet chef. Interior design tends to be simpler and size of the venue not large. If marketing was done right, wine bar will be packed even during the week. Wine bars also tend to attract regulars, people returning from work, friends meeting for a chat and also couples, coworkers etc. On the other hand, wine bars suit very large age category and status. High survival rate means growing trend. Some business owners switch to wine bars or open wine bar in addition to the restaurant business.

Historically wine bars have been popular in Europe since 18th century starting from Southern France, widely spreading across all central Europe throughout 19th century. It is part of a culture to drink wine in France and at the beginning such establishments were more for aristocrats or at least for not masses. With invention of beer and import of coffee, pubs and coffee shops took over mainly due to price. In United States wine bars started to appear in 1980s and since have been spreading in large metropolitan cities. In Canada you will see wine bars mainly in Montreal but still, very few in Toronto. Bars, restaurants and coffee shops still outnumber wine counterparts by much.

I personally love the concept and recommend everyone to at least try. It is a great place to relax at before or after the dinner, great place to socialize and even meet new people.

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First, a few words about why links are important. If you have a website for your business or venue you most likely want people to find you on the net as often as possible. It is great if people know that you have a website and go there by typing your URL directly in the browser. But what if these people just came for a visit from out of town and Googled or Yahooed “best pub in Toronto for over 40 crowd” or “limousine service in Hamilton”? Is there a chance your website will come up in search results?

Most of search engines put you on the top of search results based on how much you paid for keywords or how many back links you have to your website from other relevant websites. The theory behind this is that Google and its peers think that the more people link to you (thus talk about you on the net) the more important you are. Everything is even more complicated as search engines like relevant links. If you are a DJ for example and someone back linked to you from their Shore Repair website or some completely irrelevant place this link won’t be considered by search giants. So, you need to have as many RELEVANT links as you can.

If you would like to learn more about link building, we recommend reading the Search Engine Watch magazine or starting with the Link Building 101 article. In a lot of cases businesses will cooperate with each other and exchange links. We at UtoldUs (http://www.utoldus.com) provide great relevant ways for you to build links to your website. Depending on your UtoldUs profile type you have different options for link building such as:

Night Clubs and Venues:

–         Put a link in the information section by clicking the Edit Information button on your profile. This is a good place to link to your website and related pages of your site such as bookings, schedule, movies etc.

–         Link to the VIP list, event page on your website, or just your website when creating event on the invitation card. When creating events on UtoldUs we give you an option to also name a link. Instead of the URL the name will appear on the card and if clicked will bring the user to the URL you set. Search engines like named links giving them more rankings. Don’t just name a link “Click Here”, name it “Lady Ga Ga Party Tickets”.

–         Link to promotion coupons or pages that talks about promotions at your venue on promotion cards. When creating a promotion give links a relevant name such as “Razz Club Promo Coupons” instead of just “Print Coupon Here”.

Professionals and Businesses:

–         Put a link on your profile by clicking on Edit Information button. Clickable link will appear beside Website label on your page.

–         Create links in the Samples section on your profile. These could be links to specific pages of your portfolio. If you are a web designer it could be links to your client websites that you created. If you are a promoter, these could be links to events on your client website. Link to your blog, specific blog articles, twitter, facebook … be creative, there are many places you can link to. Your clients will appreciate it and you will get more traffic to your website. We ask you to give links a name so it appears on the page instead of the entire URL. Search engines like named links giving them more ranking. Don’t just name a link “My blog”, name it “Mark Smith’s Blog”.

–         Link to the VIP list, events page on your website, or just your website when creating event on the invitation card. Event links, similar to sample links can have a name, so be creative with that to maximize link effectiveness. Name it “DJ Bono Party Tickets” instead of just “Click here for tickets”

We are open to more ideas about what other link building tools we can create on UtoldUs. E-mail us or comment on this article and we will be happy to have a discussion.

Read more on why Clubs should join UtoldUs.

Read more on why Professionals and Businesses should join UtoldUs.

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If you are in business as DJ, promoter, dancer, live band, web site designer, security firm, interior design firm, construction company, marketing company, inventory management, cleaning services, liquor supply and any other business that works with clubs or wants to work with clubs then the Professional Profile is the one to go with. Benefits:

 –         Promote your business among the companies that you are doing business with. UtoldUs is a professional nightlife network for clubs and any other venues that are in the nightlife entertainment industry. They are here to look for people and hire people. You should join or you’ll miss the opportunity.

–         Get more exposure among your fans and friends for your business. Your fans are often not necessarily your customers. They can be just buddies of your business and know you from family, friends and your past professional life. UtoldUs gives them a chance to support you by becoming your UtoldUs Party Buddy and spreading news about you. 

–         Earn credibility among your future employers. At UtoldUs you can leave testimonials about clubs and clubs can leave testimonials about you. When clubs see good reviews about your business from their colleagues, they get thrilled… we don’t have to explain why this is good. Do we?

–         Create a real web page about your business in minutes. UtoldUs is very easy and fast to use. If you don’t have a website, you can have one right now by registering and putting all the relevant content about your business. Also, you can find some web designers on our site that can build an awesome site for you! If you have a website, read the next point.

–         Increase searchability of your website on the net. As we already told you earlier, inbound links is a key to gain success on Google, Yahoo and other search engines. UtoldUs gives you multiple ways to create inbound links to your own web site, thus increasing your searchability on the net.

–         Promote your business events. On UtoldUs you can create events and invite fans. Everyone visiting your page will also see your events and be able to share them with others. More people know about your events, more people come, isn’t it what you want when you create events?

–         Have some fun. UtoldUs is built to entertain not only your customers and fans, but also you! You should join and have fun communicating and marketing your business.

Sign up and start playing!

See related posts:

UtoldUs Club Membership Why Join?

UtoldUs Party Buddies Membership Why Join?

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