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HELLS BELLES-THE NUMBER ONE TRIBUTE BAND UNDER $16,000

THE #1 FEMALE TRIBUTE BAND

At one point you could book Hell’s Belles at your casino for cheap. Nowadays, they are commanding some real money at the $12,000 – $15,000 price point in a 1,000 seat casino venue. Now, to be fair, they will sell around $20,000 to $25,000 in tickets (unless you are comp heavy) in your typical rock market. So it is still worth booking in my opinion. Now, people really enjoy this group because of the novelty, high energy, and of course Adrian (who plays Angus)  – the lead guitarist. 

The band appeals to rockers and casino gamers of all ages. Did I mention they produce upwards of $15,000 in bar sales alone? Of course, results may vary, but generally speaking, the venue’s bar will be very busy the night of the concert should you decide to hire these gals. I would take precautions before booking them yourself, however. Once you overpay for a group from any major or minor talent agency, that is the price you will pay for life, unless they raise the price even further due to demand. Either way, it is best to work with a seasoned tribute band talent buyer to avoid overpaying. Sometimes, connecting with other venues can be beneficial as well. You don’t have to actually hire an outside entity if you have the time, resources, and know-how to execute a sustainable entertainment deal. 

For the most part though, if anyone is trying to get you to pay more than $20,000 for a tribute, you may want to reconsider the group. The exception being those times where the tribute band actually has a former member of the band from the original group starring in said tribute band. Those are usually presented a bit differently though and make it easier to sell/recoup the upfront investment. Most of the time the title of the group will read something like this; The Orchestra” feat. Mik Kaminski and Louis Clark. This spin/tribute off the popular band ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). These kinds of tributes can garner anywhere from $20,000 – $35,000 or more depending on the equity the stars embody. Sometimes that kind of money is worth it, other times it makes more sense to just spend another $20,000 and hire a true headliner like Brett Michaels for $40,000  or so. 

WHY DO TRIBAL CASINOS PAY MORE FOR TALENT?

The sad truth is, most tribal casinos don’t know that they are paying more than the theatre down the road. In fact, on average a tribal casino will be pitched the same act as a theatre but at a markup of roughly 30-50% higher. For those of us that do know we are being over-quoted, we simply walk away from the deal or negotiate a proper price. In a casino setting, no act is worth overpaying if you cannot make your money back in ticket sales after your comps are issued. That is what I call “Vanity Booking”. You can use that term if you want. That’s where a tribe or casino venue gets so caught up in the glamorous parts of booking an act or tribute entertainer that they forget about the business element. It happens to even the best of us. A big name goes a long way for your brand, but the name will lose its luster if you aren’t making money by selling the artist’s tickets. It all starts with proper ticket scaling though. If your tickets are similar to the market value from other venues, and you are breaking even after you retain the ticket fees, then you probably have a fair quote. If you are having to sell $90 tickets to Brett Michaels to break even after comps and before any hypothetical gaming revenue is considered, you may want to walk away from the deal.

It’s strange, but nobody knows why the agents are gouging tribal casinos. Some will claim it’s because of all the money the concertgoers spend on the floor after or before the show. But the reality is, the hypothetical money being spent isn’t guaranteed, the average concert-goer doesn’t blow substantial amounts of money gambling and there is no way to truly quantify any players’ revenue on the concert day as true incremental gaming revenue. 

What is more likely is your VIPs are just skipping a day earlier in the week so they can have money to spend on the day of the show. 

Altering a common gambler’s behavior is extremely difficult with regards to driving incremental revenue. It is almost impossible in many cases. See, gamblers are superstitious. They believe Fridays are luckier than Tuesdays or Mondays and so on. To be clear, I am not saying a gambler will avoid the casino because you are having a show on Saturday versus their lucky day on Tuesday. What I am saying is that if they decide to attend the show, they will probably skip their routine Friday at the casino and just use the same money they would have spent on the night of the concert. 

If you don’t believe me, take a look at your typical VIP’s ADT (average daily theoretical win) over the course of three weeks in two different scenarios. Make sure one scenario (scenario A) has at least one week with a concert and compare their play to Scenario B that doesn’t have a concert to determine if the money they did or didn’t spend on the night of the show caused their overall coin in or ADT to elevate. Chances are that you will find it is that you have cannibalized that player’s play and just moved it to another day. This isn’t a bad thing, it is just one of the facts you should consider when building your program. It is also why I encourage all casino owners, CEOs, and executives to only count your projected and actual ticket sales. I mean, that is how all other concert venues perform. They don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. Meaning The Paramount Theatre in Seattle isn’t going to lose money on ticket sales to hopefully make it up on concessions sales. Lastly, don’t over-comp your venue. If the show doesn’t sell out, let the band play to a half-empty room. Your guests will avoid buying tickets later if they know you are going to just give them away for free. And it won’t be long before the tickets will lose their perceived value. Then you will be in an even worse position and will probably lose $1million or more a year in your entertainment program depending on your budget.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Gaming revenue should always be considered separately. Furthermore, no agent should be bellying up to pitch you an act at an inflated rate just because you might make some money on the casino floor if all things go right, the show sells out and the stars align. The bottom line is, tribal casinos have kept legacy bands and tributes alive. And unfortunately, beguiling talent buyers are making a killing of venues who are new or are misinformed about the prices for a given act. 

Ultimately, if your tribal casino is losing money after each concert and you are constantly looking at your gaming revenue to try and justify the entertainment budget, something is wrong. This is not how other venues operate and it isn’t sustainable. Call us today if you want to discuss accurate national or tribute band pricing, ticketing strategies, and/or need help with talent buying. Casino entertainment is the newest entertainment segment in the industry and if you are trying to avoid a million-dollar-plus deficit at the end of the year, contact Seattle Talent Buying today.

TRIBUTE BAND DIRECTORY

Feel free to use our tribute band directory below to peruse some of the more successful tribute acts in the casino industry. These bands are the most profitable. It doesn’t usually matter how well known a group is in the tribute world. What matters most is that they look, feel and sound good at the performance. We have vetted the groups below to ensure just that.

  • If you have a band to add to this list, send them our way. We just need their name, the act the cover, and their last given price point for a 1,000 seat room.
  • If you have a more accurate price point for the gig they performed at your venue, send it our way and we will add it to the tribute band directory.

We are always updating this list and it is nowhere near being done. We are aiming for 5,000 to 10,000 names and price points, so bear with us as we continue to add the data we have and are amassing. 

BOOK YOUR FAVORITE TRIBUTE BAND 

Book a tribute band. We have relationships with all of the major and niche agencies. We can help you save time, money, avoid guesswork, and the pitfalls that exist in the industry. Use our tribute band booking form today to get an accurate quote for your event. 

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