A backstage pass to concert planning


Over the last three years, South Africa has had a stream of international artists performing all over the country to thousands of people.

However, the process in securing a big artist is trickier and lengthier than what would think.

Firstly, negotiations with the performer’s management team take place to work out artist fees as well as guarantees, potentially taking up to five years for a consensus to be reached.  


“It’s the artist’s fees more often than not that’s the deal breaker when discussions start,” Anton Groenewald, executive director of tourism, events and marketing for the City of Cape Town told CNBC Africa.

He further explained that the destination selected for a global artist to perform at is usually based on whether that destination is able to provide a guarantee to an artist’s agent that fees will be paid.  

“[About] 99 per cent of the time, it is the agent’s ability to secure the fee of the destination and not the artist’s desire or willingness to come to a destination,” he said.

Globally successful artist’s fees usually range between 50 and 80 million rand, and are usually a standard fee for all destinations worldwide. With such high costs, event organisers usually partner up with each destination city’s tourism and marketing departments to create cost effective proposals.

“It’s a joint effort. Obviously the city’s role is to ensure that the facilities and all of the necessary city support functions are in place. Our challenge is to make it cost effective so that event organisers are able to bring us these world class event performers, artists and entertainers,” added Groenewald.

Once the best proposal has been created, event organisers need to secure all the necessary brand sponsorships, ticket sales as well as a venue.

Hazel Feldman, director of one of South Africa’s largest events companies, Showtime Management, added that securing a venue for a big concert usually depends on the scale of the artist. In other words, the more famous the artist is globally, the larger the venue needs to be.

“You’re going to choose your venue subject to your artist. If you feel your artist will pull in 50,000 or 60,000 people, we’ll go to the big stadiums,” she said.

The next step, she added, is to select the best technical management team so they can set up the staging, sound and lighting for the event.  Feldman believes South Africa offers top quality technical teams and equipment, resulting in the large stream of artists flowing into the country at the moment.

“There are excellent people and equipment available these days in this country as good as anywhere in the world which is the reason you’re getting the flow of artists in South Africa right now,” she added.

“We are definitely on the map in this country.”