International Growth in Entertainment Bookings

Dreamer: Shantel Dow

Business: Dow Artists, Inc.

Location: Russell, IA

Industry Contest: Professional Services

Voting Ends: March 1, 2015 11:59 PM

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Dow Artists, Inc. is a fine arts entertainment booking agency enhancing the quality of life for thousands of people each year across the country. My dream is to expand my agency to include international bookings for my performers.
Business Description:
My agency celebrated ten years as an Iowa business in 2014. My business is one of the purest forms of economic development in Iowa as more than ninety percent of my revenues come from outside of the state of Iowa. Gross revenues in the United States from performing arts presenters is $8.7 billion dollars annually. This is a unique business due to the fact that most of the performing artist booking agencies reside in highly populated areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. I have found success in this business while living in rural southern Iowa and working from my home with a view of rolling hills, trees and farm ponds. I travel each year to major cities to attend conferences and trade shows to promote my performers and attract buyers from all over the United States and a few internationally based buyers. Potential buyers are also contacted via phone calls and emails. My income is based solely on commissions from my bookings. I have been successful over the past ten years and have grown to hire independent contractors to assist with bookings and our value-added service of grant writing. When I started my agency, I had five years of experience as a booking agent for a band based in Dallas, TX. I enjoyed the work and was very successful but had the desire to start my own agency so that I could represent many more performing groups. It is a very competitive market so I wanted to find a unique offering to attract attention to my agency. Since I had over twenty years of experience grant writing for the arts, I offered free grant writing for any venue that booked an artist from my roster. This was very popular and helped to establish myself in this highly competitive market. I now have a grant writer that is contracted and we now charge a minimal amount for this service. At the largest international performing arts booking conference in the world, held in New York City each year, there are over three hundred booking agencies attending with more than fifteen hundred artists represented. It is quite a competitive market. I continue to establish relationships with buyers from performing arts centers, festivals, corporations and others that look for performing arts entertainment. This is done through attendance at conferences and through email, social media, marketing, phone calling and personal visits. I continue to look for income growth opportunities by adding more artists to my roster and booking more performances.
My business plan includes expanding to attend more international conferences to promote growth with international bookings. There is a "Pan-Asia" conference each year that takes place in Asia moving locations each year. The Asian market is a great potential for my artists as their audiences gravitate to American music. My roster always includes traditional American music such as jazz and pop. The artists on my roster range in price from $2,500 - $15,000 per show. Commission for my work is 20% of the negotiated gross fee. There is great potential to make a significant income in this business with hard work and creating solid business relationships with the buyers. As relationships are key to establishing long-term booking potential with a venue, I would also like to expand my business by offering an informational breakfast or dinner for potential buyers so that I can personally introduce my roster of artists in a captive setting. I would like to do this at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference in January 2016 where there are many international presenters. Free food is always a great way to build an audience. This will be by invitation only. I consider this a great marketing tool, which was suggested by my regional Small Business Development specialist, Bryan Ziegler.
Reason for Entering:
I am applying as I feel this is a great program to help Iowa small business entrepreneurs and I can use the help to expand my business. The money will be used to help me expand and have a presence in international markets. This has been a business priority since early 2014 when I received an Iowa Economic Development Authority grant to expand in international markets by attending an international conference. This helped me to begin my quest and I have since booked my artists in three countries outside of the United States. I would like to continue this expansion as it will help my business to grow and bring some outside money into the state of Iowa. I will plan to attend more international conferences to promote my artists and print information in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic as these are the most likely areas for international expansion in my field. The money would also be used for additional marketing purposes by offering an informational breakfast to buyers at the largest international booking conference in the world, APAP, in January 2016. The plan is to invite twenty five international buyers and have one of my artists provide entertainment with a complimentary breakfast. Both verbal and written materials on my artists would be presented.
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