Tag Archives: national talent

Entertainment Trends for Corporate Events in 2018

With 2017 winding down, all eyes are on the 2018 horizon. What will be the next big thing in corporate entertainment? With over 1,000 booked dates already on ECE’s books for 2018, we are beginning to see trends emerge.

From conference general and closing sessions to product launches to employee recognition events and more, in 2018 it will all be about the experience. Corporate event planners and DMCs are looking for entertainment that is engaging. It’s not enough to simply draw people to the event. The goal is for attendees to stay at the event completely engaged and consumed, and leave the event changed or inspired by the objective or messaging.  Entertainment plays a key role in achieving this goal. Following are the top five trends we are seeing for 2018.


Nothing is more wow-factor than having a nationally-recognized artist or celebrity entertainer at your corporate event.  Depending on the type of event, audience and budget, attendees can feel like VIPs with a private performance from artists like One Republic, Darius Rucker, Bon Jovi and countless others. Trending for 2018 is mixing a national artist with a high-end dance band. Planners and DMCs are booking bands like Party On The Moon or Simply Irresistible and adding on a national artist to perform as a special guest vocalist for 3-5 songs. This arrangement gives companies and organizations with more modest budgets the ability to have that awe-inspiring national talent experience.

Tech is trending! 3D projection mapping is all the rage for 2018 with clients and planners using it for stage design, specialty shows, large-scale projection (think entire buildings!) and even as an accompaniment to dance or performing arts shows. Custom designs and performances can be created to align with any event theme, messaging or goal.

Also trending for 2018 are drone shows and 3D floating imagery.

Any seasoned event pro knows that creating a cohesive environment is imperative to the success of the event. A major trend we saw in 2017 and continues strong for 2018 is the use of multiple specialty entertainers intentionally created and strategically placed throughout the event. Think lollipop aerialists, stilt walkers, sway pole artists and strolling living art characters decked out in custom costumes cohesive with the client’s branding or conference messaging. The overall effect is innovative, engaging and practically guarantees attendees will share their experiences on social media. And, let’s be honest, if attendees don’t post about the event on social media, did it even really happen?

Elevate the DJ experience with the addition of live drums, electric violins, singers, brass and more! This is a huge trend for 2018 and creates an interactive atmosphere that is fun and unexpected. Hey DJ! and DJ Shelly are two ECE exclusive artists who are paving the way with this hot trend.

Creative food and beverage elements have been trending for years, but hip events in 2018 are presenting the sips and noshes in unique and interactive ways.  From champagne aerialists, cirque buffets, tank-torched sandwiches, hot air balloon servers, food drones, living tables, napkin ladies and more, the options for adding playful entertainment to your food and beverage offerings are limitless.

Image courtesy of New Moon Chicago

There is no denying that 2018 corporate events will be creative and experiential. For more ideas or to learn how ECE can take the trends above and curate a custom experience for whatever type of event you are planning, reach out to an ECE entertainment consultant by completing this form or calling 855-323-4386.

Event Recap: The Annual IEBA Conference | Nashville, TN

For every Tim McGraw festival show or ZZ Top private performance there is a team of agents, managers, talent buyers, and tour crew behind the scenes negotiating contracts, setting up sound/lights, and making sure everything runs smoothly. National talent buying is something EastCoast Entertainment is known for globally and now more than ever we are proud to say we are a multi-award winning team of specialists committed to putting on the highest quality shows for you and your client.

A few weeks ago we recognized Mark Letson, ECE partner and National Talent Buying Director, who was named by IEBA as the 2016 Corporate Buyer of the Year and I was lucky enough to be sitting in the audience when his name was called. As a first time attendee of the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s (IEBA) annual conference I wanted to share a few national buying trends and the reason it’s important to use a specialist when planning your event.

The IEBA annual conference is held in Nashville (my adopted hometown) every year and offers a chance for buyers to meet face to face with booking agents, artists and their colleagues in the entertainment industry. It’s three days full of networking mixers, showcases and hotel room meetings that allows agents and artists alike to fill their calendars for the next year or more. Being the new guy in town, I got a chance to sit and observe Mark and ECE Atlanta Location Managing Director/Partner Rick Stowe meet with the heads of agencies like William Morris, CAA and APA. It was exciting to see the respect they were given and the longstanding business and personal relationships they held with the people responsible for the careers of everyone from Mariah Carey to Eric Church. No one else could get these type of deals done and Mark and Rick do it with a smile while swapping stories about kids and sports.

There is a hierarchy to everything and this conference is not unique. It features professionals who buy for everything from small county fairs to the heads of Coachella and nationally recognized venues like the Ryman and Madison Square Garden. The way I see it, the higher in the hotel you are meeting, the higher the dollar amounts being discussed. Deals were being struck in the hotel lobby, on the Penthouse floor and the highest dollar dates (and the best stories) are discussed over expensive meals lasting several courses/hours. As a fly on the wall, I heard breaking news about partial reunions, global tours for artists who swore they’d never play together again, and much more. These meetings are the reason EastCoast Entertainment is on the cutting edge year after year. Respect and trust are earned and with 20+ years and thousands of successful shows under our belts most of these agents can’t wait to share the exciting things their artists are up to for the coming year with our team.

The value in the IEBA conference is talking with buyers from across the country about what’s working in their markets, where they see the industry heading and experiencing the agency artist showcases together. Both young artists and globally recognized names are given four song sets to display their talents and, man, is it a good time. Here are the three types of artists that are trending this year:

Legacy Acts
These are the bands who have consistently cranked out hit album after album and have decades of performing under their belts. They are guaranteed to provide a family/corporate friendly show with a song list featuring recognizable song after song. This year we saw LeAnn Rimes, Sister Hazel, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Commodores, Three Dog Night, Lou Gramm, The Spinners, Rick Astley, and more.

Fresh Talent

These are the acts with something to prove. Their sets are high energy and geared towards a younger crowd. Perfect for outdoor festivals like Richmond’s Friday Cheers. This year we saw Judah and the Lion, Brandy Clark, Abi Ann, Morgan James, Welshly Arms, The Last Bandoleros, American Authors, and the Plain White T’s.

Internet/Reality TV Sensations
These faces are instantly recognizable to anyone under the age of 20 and some stars of shows like American Idol are household names. Most of these artists show up at fairs, festivals, and events like large scale mall openings where the audience is full of young kids, teenagers, and their parents. This year we saw Danny Gokey, Jordan Fisher, Kane Brown, Megan & Liz, and more.

Keep an eye out for these artists at your local fairs and festivals this year and be sure to contact EastCoast Entertainment if you’d like to provide your clients and guests with the chance of a lifetime to see their favorite artists in a private or corporate setting.

Here is a picture of Mark Letson hanging with Garth Brooks backstage at the awards ceremony!


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.

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.


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!