James Stanbridge, Co-Founder of Entourage Pro, says there are eight million people around the world who are involved in some way with putting on live music – and that’s not including the actual artists. Just look at the huge number of people required to create the biggest worldwide tours. The BBC reported recently that, when Beyonce played Cardiff, there were 60 production trucks and 18 coaches lined up outside the stadium.
A large tour needs people with around 150 individual roles and these are typically freelancers, who go from job to job, Rather like an actor, they always have their eye on the next role. But, how do these people find out about what tours need their skills and, how do the organisers of these musical extravaganzas – or even a small tour – find people with the appropriate skillset to make it happen? It used to simply be by reputation, searching through a well-thumbed directory or by word of mouth - but now there’s Entourage Pro.
According to James, Entourage Pro is ‘the world’s first verified global crew network dedicated to – and fiercely passionate about – the live events industry’. Entourage Pro ‘bridges the gap between artists, their management, label tour support, promoters, rental houses and the wider production world, with a verified and private network of production professionals’.
James and Co-Founder Joel Perry– who between them have many years’ experience in the music industry – both bring different skills and experience to the table, including database knowledge and the contacts. Now Entourage Pro is fast becoming the ‘go to’ tool for the music industry and its website has been developed by Target Ink.
“We conceived the idea pre-Covid and, while the pandemic threw a spanner in the works, it also highlighted that now is the right time for Entourage Pro,” says James. “Lots of people left our industry during Covid and, even people with the biggest networks were struggling to find crew. Post-Covid we saw some events cancelled, simply because they couldn’t source enough people to make them happen.”
“Times are hard in the industry and we didn’t want to make cost a barrier,” says James. “Instead, we have secured a number of headline sponsors, typically the top manufacturers in their given field. In return, these businesses get access to their end users – which they appreciate, as there is usually a rental company in the middle. These sponsors can run market research through Entourage Pro and discover what the end user needs from their products.”
“We want everyone involved with Entourage Pro to take membership seriously,” says James. “If it was quick and simple to sign-up, then this would diminish the quality of people on there and how engaged they are. We also encourage members to return regularly and update their information, when they have added new experience or skills.”
James had known Rob at Target Ink for a while. In fact, Showcase, his previous business, was Target Ink’s first client back in 2010; they met originally through a mutual business contact.
“We knew that the website for Entourage Pro would be a complex project but we were 100% confident that Target Ink could deliver it for us,” says James. “We recognised Bob at Target Ink would be ideal for the techie element behind the scenes; he really knows his stuff.”
That said, the team did look at other options – but in terms of hitting the budget, expertise and enthusiasm, Target Ink came out on top.
“While the site had to work properly in terms of search terms etc, it was key that the website looked like a quality product, which the industry would take seriously,” says James. “Matt at Target Ink has absolutely done the best job design-wise, it’s really impressive.”
“This really helped during the design phase, when we needed to basically ‘bash it out’ and work through various elements together,” he explains. “While our day-to-day contacts have been Matt and Bob, Rob has been excellent in his role as project manager, keeping everything on course. I think this is where it’s been great working with a smaller agency, as you know who you are dealing with.”
He continues: “The whole project has been pretty seamless. Yes, there have been challenges, but Target Ink has worked through them with us. For instance, search is a key part of Entourage Pro but we wanted the search results to be delivered in a random fashion. Otherwise, people with names A-C, for instance, would always appear first. Achieving this was complicated, but Bob is a smart cookie and he sorted it out. Also, whatever search somebody puts in, we never want it to deliver ‘no results’. Again, that was tricky but Bob achieved it.”
At Target Ink, we talk a lot about how a website is never a finished project, it grows and evolves, and this is why our clients appreciate our ongoing maintenance and support package.
“We need to update Entourage Pro all the time and there continues to be a fair amount of long-term project work,” says James. “The fact that Target Ink is continuing to support us on this journey is fantastic.”
He adds: “Target Ink has created a top quality site for us and with such a lot of people freelancing in the live music industry, Entourage Pro can only grow. We are really excited to see the amazing roles which are being listed across the world, including North America and the Middle East, and we regularly hear from members who have secured some amazing work through Entourage Pro, as well as tour organisers have found the best teams.”