For those who don’t know me or what I do, one of the things that I’ve excelled at over the years is concert promotion. I’ve done mostly club concerts with a fair number of rappers. I’m proud to say that all of my events have had great turnouts. I believe that I’ve been lucky and perceptive enough to book the right artists for the market at the right price, coupled with extensive promotional campaigns that bring the crowds out.
Whether I’ve been hired to help a local guy bring his favorite rapper to his city or promoted a self-funded event with my team, I’ve seen much success, had a lotta fun and made some money in the process. Overall, concert promotion has been good to me. No management team that’s ever done a show for me would call me a “janky promoter”. I pride myself on being a professional at my craft.
I’m writing this article based on a very frustrating experience that I recently had trying to book Trinidad James. The concert was to take place in a small market (Lafayette, Louisiana), at a venue that held close to a thousand people. After speaking on the phone to someone on Trinidad’s team, I was instructed to use their website TIGBooking.com (TIG stands for Think It’s A Game) to submit an offer. I went through the process and submitted an offer of $20,000 which I felt was fair for a guy whose first single was a number one record. At the same time, I want to say that during CashOut’s reign at number one last year I was able to book him in July 2012 for TWO shows for a total of $17,000. Anyway, I felt that at 20k I could squeeze out a profit on a show with Trinidad.
Let me say that I’m a relationship kind of person. I spend money on these artists and I like to speak to the manager or booking agent that I’m working with on an event. My shows are conducted in markets that are different from Miami or Atlanta or Houston. There is less disposable income in these “B” markets: but these same markets are the places where artists like Z-Ro, Lil Boosie, Yo Gotti and others do multiple shows a year. The mid-to-small town markets can make any hot or not-so-hot artist a quarter million or more over the course of a year, IF their team is willing to understand that a city like Lafayette, Louisiana doesn’t have the same size clubs as Houston or New Orleans. So when booking artists, I like the ability to communicate with whomever is responsible for booking so that they can understand what I need as a promoter in order to make the show work. I don’t do wack shows. PERIOD.
From day one in trying to book Trinidad I was never able to speak to anyone. Everything was done by email with the mysterious “firstname.lastname@example.org”. I was informed through whoever was responsible for this email address that Trinidad needed $25,000 instead of the $20,000 offered. I submitted a counter of $22,500 which was immediately rejected outright. This led me to call the venue owner and work out an adjustment in the price of renting the club so that I could still do the show and preserve my ability to make a profit. Within an hour of my counteroffer being denied, I emailed TIGBooking back and agreed to pay the $25,000 and asked about the rider requirements.
That’s when the strangest thing happened. After agreeing to spend $25,000 to book this artist, I wasn’t contacted again for 11 days. Actually, I had to email them and ask them if they wanted my 25K or not. Imagine having to chase somebody down to give them $25,000!!! Wow!
Well, after 11 days of waiting, I sent TIGBooking a couple of “not-so-nice” emails, which finally led them to contact me and inform me that my offer had been accepted. Great, right? Wrong! Someone emailed me the rider, which requires 6 Delta Airline plane tickets, one of which is a 1st class ticket. I don’t have a problem handling travel, it’s a part of doing business, but Delta doesn’t fly into my city and this guy’s travel stipulations are gonna cost me an extra $6,500! The fact that they waited the extra time to accept my offer prevented me from “early booking” the flights, plus I would have to pay ground transportation to drive 75 miles to pick up 6 people (which requires a bigger vehicle, so it costs more) and bring them back to fly out the next day. Oh, and did I mention the “requirement” of a 5-star hotel? Well, there are no 5-star hotels in Lafayette or Baton Rouge. I’d have loved to talk to TIGBooking or any of Trinidad James’ team about this, but I still hadn’t received any contact info or been given a number to call, and as a businessman I wasn’t about to spend an extra $10,000 so that this kid and his team could sleep at the nearest 5-star hotel (which is 2 hours away)! Some things just don’t make business sense, and without communication and understanding between parties there’s no way to have an agreement.
Ultimately, I decided that booking Trinidad wasn’t worth the trouble. At the end of the day, the promoter is the customer of the artist. If I don’t like the customer service, then I don’t shop there; and this is what happened with my attempt to book Trinidad James. Eventually someone named “Rock” sent me a contract which demanded an additional 10% and informed me that my request for a 20-30 minute performance was impossible (Trinidad does a 6-10 minute show). Needless to say, I wasn’t interested in hearing any more about Trinidad James. The contract stated that if I didn’t send the deposit within 24 hours that the contract was void and the date would be sold to someone else. I didn’t send the deposit. I didn’t respond. That was on April 10th.
Imagine my surprise as I’m enjoying a sunny Georgia Sunday two weeks later and a strange 404 number is calling my phone. Ahhh, it’s someone from TIGBooking looking to arrange travel for my May 3 Trinidad James show (now barely two weeks away). I explained the problems I’d had to this person, and was sent up the ladder to talk to someone else about the booking process. Of course they weren’t interested in what I had to say, I’m a professional with complaints about the less than professional business services of TIGBooking. They were looking for their deposit and wanted to book the flights and hotels for me (for an additional 20% fee). Thanks, but no thanks.
I love Trinidad James’ music and so do many people in Lafayette, Louisiana. I have respect for Fly and JDirrt and the other members of Trinidad’s team who have helped to make him as successful as he is today. I can’t book him though — not worth the hassles. We’ve actually decided to bring Wale (who is much more expensive), but Jesse Kirshbaum is a professional booking agent, who understands the challenges of smaller markets, and has no problem communicating with a customer. Also, Wale has more than one song and performs longer than 6 to 10 minutes for the fans. Either Trinidad James has one of the most unprofessional teams in the history of urban music or they just don’t care about a small promoter from a small town in Louisiana–either way, it was an unproductive, and offensive, experience. Artists, please remember that the people you treat badly on the way up the success ladder are the same people you need on your way back down. You won’t ALWAYS have the hottest song out, and when you don’t, that’s when your relationships will get you the show money from guys like me. It may not be a big deal to Trinidad James that his team ran off this $25,000 – I just hope that I don’t have these same headaches trying to book Rich Homie Qwan. I doubt that I’d even try to book him through TIGBooking. I had a bad experience with his team, and remember rappers; your team represents YOU.
Update: I was contacted by a member of Trinidad James team since writing this article. The team member was a professional who apologized for the problems with communication in booking Trinidad. My conversation with this individual was cordial and to the point. There was no blaming or finger pointing: simply one person accepting that the lack of communication was an error and that my experience wasn’t the normal one promoters face when booking Trinidad James. Overall I was satisfied with knowing that the members of TJ’s team aren’t bunglers or incompetent. I’d just been a victim of bad timing and mis-communication. I’m convinced that the call I received wasn’t to placate me, but was a sincere effort to let me know that these guys actually are professionals. Now that I have actually spoken to someone on the team, I can feel more confident in considering booking Trinidad James in the future. It’s still a toss-up, but I can’t rule out ever booking TJ – I can only say that I’m gonna stay as far away as possible from TIGBooking.com! S/O to Fly & the rest of the people helping to make Trinidad James one of the hottest artists of 2012-2013. Thanks for letting me know that you do solid business. I wish you all the best and hope to do business with you soon.