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Getting Started, What Does It Take To Be An ETA?

For the past several weeks, I have had the privilege of corresponding with a young man by the name of Clinton Roberts, an up and coming Elvis Tribute Artist. Clinton, like most Elvis Tribute Artists, got his start by performing for friends and family and is now ready to take the next step in becoming a professional ETA, he has had some very interesting and important questions regarding what steps he needs to take in pursuing his dream and I have tried my best to give him as much help as I possibly can. Here are a few of the questions he has asked and the answers I have given him...

Hi there my name is Clinton Roberts, I'm 21 years old and I've been a closet Elvis impersonator for about a year, yesterday I performed for the first time ever in front of an audience. it was for a local senior center luncheon, it just seemed like a fun thing to do and I love to entertain, well here is where my problem lies, the second my performance was over I was stampeded by people wanting me to make appearances, which is great and I'm ready and willing but I don't know the first thing about how much to charge for private shows or how to advertise effectively in order to draw new business or anything, I was hoping you could give me some ideas cause I've got to act fast I've got 6 different organizations wanting me this month and I cant even quote a price for the performance, I kind of figured since this is what you guys do you could help, thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely, Clinton J Roberts Jr

Dear Clinton,
First thing you need to look at is what type of organization it is for, Second, how large of a venue will you be entertaining, Third, how long of a show do they wish to have and Lastly, how much is your time worth. The larger the organization, the more money you will be able to charge but since you are just starting out, maybe you should just make enough to cover your expenses and get a little profit on the side, the most valuable thing you will get from your early performances is word of mouth advertising. No other type of advertising is more truthful and effective as this.

Once you believe you have enough performances under your belt, then you can raise your price a little more, after a while, you will be able to name your price when people are beating down your door. If an event comes up for a charity or a non profit organization, I always charge what it is costing me, I have even done a few for free, depending on the cause. I look at it this way, it comes back ten fold.

The size of the audience also matters, if you are hired by a corporation and there will be a couple of hundred people there, by all means make a profit for yourself, if it is less than fifty, keep it reasonable yet competitive. Remember, you are not some DJ that they can find in the phone book, you are an entertainer physically and vocally.

Most shows are usually two to three hours long, with a short break in the middle, you don't want to wear yourself out, if they are looking for a small 30 to 60 minute set, then $300, make them believe the longer show is a better bargain for them as well as more entertaining.

If I can tell you anything else it is this, when representing yourself to a potential client, be confident, make them believe that you will be giving them the best show they have ever seen, no one will hire someone who has doubts about their own ability. I hope this is helpful, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. As for a web page and advertising with Eimpersonators, you found us so that means someone could find you.

Sincerely, Big T

Dear Big T,
I have already got 2 gigs coming up and both asked if I had a band or if used background tracks, they didn't seem disappointed when I told them I used background tracks but it did make me curious if I should try to locate some band members or not, I'm curious what your experience is with this and what remedies or heartaches a band may cause. I would appreciate any comments in this matter.

Sincerely, Clinton Roberts

I have worked with both bands and recorded accompaniment music, if you can put a band together that is guaranteed to show up every time then God bless you, I use one other person besides myself and he runs sound for me and has a list of my songs and what order I sing them in. Don't think that not having a band is going to lessen your performance, I would say that 80% of the Tribute artist out there are using accompaniment music, it's more reliable to be there, doesn't take too much time to load and you make more money for yourself, you might want to think about lights for your performance though, they are always a great touch and set the mood for different songs.

Big T

Hey Big T,
I've hit yet another bump in the road and its the decision to get a manager/promoter or stay independent. and how does a guy go about advertising himself in order to get work other than a web page.

Sincerely, that confused E-impersonator, Clinton Roberts

As I said in the past, word of mouth advertising is the best and most effective advertising available to anyone but to someone just starting out like yourself, there are other routes you could take. First off, make a professional flier or business card with your picture on it and place it at some strategic locations, such as large music stores, or central community locations. Another idea is to place an ad in your local paper such as the Arts and Entertainment section, or even a yellow pages ad under entertainers. As for my thoughts on a manager or advertising agent, only if you truly trust an individual, don't go for some corporate ad agency, they only worry about themselves. If you have a friend who is totally behind you and believes in what you are doing, get that person to help you brainstorm ideas for advertising yourself, and don't worry about being cheesy or humorous, that's how some of the largest businesses and entertainers began. You have to make such an impression the first time they see your ad or hear your name that it sticks with them in the back of their minds until they see your performance and that will stick with them forever.

If anyone has any more advise to give to Clinton or any other up and coming ETA, please contact me and I will be sure to pass it on to anyone and everyone needing a nudge in the right direction but for now, Good Luck Clinton and thank you for your effort in keeping the memories of Elvis alive.

Until next time E fans, "Elvis has left the building!".

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