Category Archives: National Talent

Mark Letson Named IEBA 2016 Corporate Buyer of the Year

Last week was an exciting week for ECE. Partner and head of ECE’s National Talent Division, Mark Letson, was named the recipient of the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) 2016 Corporate Buyer of the Year award.

“It was an honor to win the 2016 IEBA Corporate Buyer of the Year award in Nashville last week.
IEBA hosts an amazing event and I am so proud to represent EastCoast Entertainment and thankful to all of our agents and staff for their support over the past 25 years,” replied Mark.

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11: Mark Letson of Eastcoast Entertainment accepts the Corporate Buyer of the Year Award at the 2016 IEBA Honors and Awards Ceremony during day 3 of the IEBA 2016 Conference on October 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 11: Mark Letson of Eastcoast Entertainment accepts the Corporate Buyer of the Year Award at the 2016 IEBA Honors and Awards Ceremony during day 3 of the IEBA 2016 Conference on October 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA)

IEBA is the leading not-for-profit trade organization for live entertainment industry professionals who buy, book, and sell talent. The Corporate Buyer of the Year award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a live entertainment industry professional purchasing entertainment for exceptional corporate events. Click here for the full list of the 2016 IEBA industry award winners.

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As the National Talent Buyer for ECE, Mark works with the company’s agents and national talent agencies to ensure successful artist procurement and production for events featuring nationally-recognized artists. Since the inception of the National Talent Buying Division, Mark has helped buy and produce over 2,500 shows ranging from fraternity gigs to large-scale corporate functions.

“It gives me great pride for others to recognize what I and ECE have known for years — we could have no better representative for us than a person who is as well-respected and liked as Mark Letson. National talent buying is a very important piece of business for ECE. Mark has years of dedicated experience, professionalism and good will that have driven tremendous growth for us. I could not be prouder of both what he has accomplished with us and for the industry to see how fortunate we are to have him as a partner here at ECE,” states ECE President and CEO, Doug Daniel.

Congratulations Mark!

Mark Letson Named EastCoast Entertainment Partner

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As EastCoast Entertainment continues to grow, so does its ownership group. Today, the company announces Mark Letson has been named to the partnership. Mark becomes the ninth person to join the board.

A 1990 graduate of East Carolina University, Letson began his career in 1991 when he joined the EastCoast Entertainment Charlotte office as an agent. Initially booking ECE’s roster of exclusive bands, he moved to Atlanta in 1994 to develop the company’s National Talent Buying Division. Since 2000, Mark has been based out of Richmond, VA where he resides with his wife and family.

“Mark and I started our careers here at ECE at almost exactly the same time. I still tell great stories of the early years spent sharing offices and laughs. His friendship has meant more to me than I can say. Being able to work with such a great friend over the years and now welcome him into the ownership group is going to be huge for me both personally and professionally,” states EastCoast Entertainment President and CEO, Doug Daniel.

As the National Talent Buyer for EastCoast Entertainment, Letson works with the company’s agents and national talent agencies to ensure successful artist procurement and production for events featuring nationally-recognized artists. Since the inception of the National Talent Buying Division, Mark has helped buy and produce over 2,000 shows ranging from fraternity gigs to large-scale corporate functions.

ECE agent and producer, Chris McClure, elaborates, “Mark Letson has been instrumental in the growth of ECE as a company. His knowledge and expertise in the National market has allowed us to reach heights we could have never imagined. So many of our events are uber private — so much so that even people in our company don’t know the kind of magic Mark performs on a daily basis! To me, that is what makes him SO special. He could boast for days about the artists he has booked and he never speaks a word about them. He is team oriented and always deflects the praise to the agent when it was really his doing that made a lot of these deals happen. I am so proud that he is our newest partner.”

We caught up with Mark to ask him about this new endeavor.

QUESTION: What does this partnership mean to you?
MARK LETSON: Joining the partnership at EastCoast Entertainment alongside the agents that both taught me the business and that I’ve grown up with professionally is an opportunity that I am extremely grateful for. Not only is the partnership role a reward for a job well done, but a leadership role moving forward.

QUESTION: What excites you most when you think about the future of ECE?
MARK LETSON: Having been at ECE for 25 years and watching us grow exponentially in size has been great,  but seeing us mature culturally has been amazing.  Valuing our seasoned veterans through offering partnerships fosters an environment where we are rewarded for growing and developing future partners of EastCoast Entertainment. I feel confident that I can make significant contributions to both ECE and the National Division for many years to come.

QUESTION: Anything else you would like to add?
MARK LETSON: From day one, I was part of a family at EastCoast Entertainment. While we have grown and matured so much over the years, the company has kept the small business/ family feeling. Not to mention, my actual family grew out of EastCoast Entertainment as this is where I met my wife. Even after 25 years, I never take for granted that I have a job that I love and that the end result brings a lot of people joy.

Event Recap: #LunchNLearn With The DC International Live Events Association (ILEA)

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How cool would you look if you booked Lionel Ritchie to serenade your daughter during her wedding reception, Missy Elliot to play your backyard birthday party, or Maroon Five to surprise your employees on a corporate retreat. EastCoast Entertainment has successfully helped clients around the world plan exactly these types of events for decades.

Booking national acts can be both exhilarating and panic inducing. Who will negotiate the fee? Who will make sure the artist has the correct sound, lights, labor permits, staging, hospitality, and Eastern European down pillows placed exactly 2 inches apart and cooled to 68 degrees exactly? That’s where ECE’s National Talent Division comes in. Led by National Talent Buyer, Mark Letson, this division works with the company’s agents and national talent agencies to ensure successful artist procurement and production for events featuring nationally-recognized artists. Mark has led the National Talent Division for 20+ years, booked over 2,000 national acts (over 200 a year) and has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Tim McGraw.

It was because of this expertise, Mark was invited to be the keynote speaker during one of ILEA DC’s “Lunch N Learn” events. Last Tuesday, our DC office headed over to Sehkraft Brewery to enjoy lunch, beer samples, and great conversation between event professionals. Mark spoke and answered questions on how to navigate the choppy waters of booking these “larger than life” acts. Here are some of the questions asked and things we learned:

1. Why should I work with EastCoast vs booking the band myself?
Mark and the National Division have many years of successful events under their belts so booking agents at William Morris, CAA, and all of the major agencies return our calls and love working with us. They trust that we will take care of their artists, provide the appropriate level of production and connect the dots when it comes to every aspect of the show.

Additionally, the client can trust that they are getting the absolute best price for the artist they’d like to book. Band pricing is not an exact science and with thousands of shows’ worth of experience we can make sure the fee is reasonable and matches the level of artist/event.

2. How do I pick the right act for my event?
First, you will want to consider what type of budget you are working with? Is your budget earmarked for the band’s fee only or does it also encompass airfare, production (sound, lights, staging), hospitality, etc.

Secondly, you want to ask yourself what is the purpose of the event/demographic? If your crowd is older, consider a legacy act like Earth, Wind, and Fire. If you have a younger crowd, you may consider someone like Zac Brown Band.

3. How long can I expect an act to play?
Legacy acts like Stevie Wonder can play anywhere from 75-90 min or more. They can draw from decades worth of hits that will keep your crowd engaged. Younger artists or bands that are currently “hot” may only have a few hits so if that’s the case consider keeping their sets short.

4. What is a rider? What should I expect to find? Are these terms negotiable?
The rider is an additional part of the contract that is a direct communication from the band to the event producer with specific requests. It allows the band to arrive at a venue in Ohio or Dubai to find the exact equipment, food, etc that they need to perform at their best. Common items on a rider are:

i. Production needs such as sound, lights, power, backline equipment, and staging.
ii. Security needs both for the artist and the audience.
iii. Catering/hospitality needs. Everything from on-stage coolers with Gatorade, dressing room veggies and coffee, and after-show food preferences.
iv. Backstage access, sound-board location, # of local crew to unload semi-trucks, ground transportation from the airport, and so much more!

All items in a rider are up for discussion, but some items like autograph sessions or a specific brand of beer are much easier for bands to budge on than the number of monitors, placement of the band’s instruments or power needs.

These are just a few areas of expertise for Mark and his team, but there are many more great answers on our “National Talent Buyer 101” page.

If you’ve ever dreamed of playing air guitar backstage while Bruce Springsteen strolls through a sea of your fellow employees then let us help!

Photography Credit: Strouse Photography

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Brad Strouse
ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.