Industry Profile: Mike Esterman
By Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner
Mike Esterman is the CEO of celebrity booking agency Esterman Entertainment, based in Maryland, which specializes in appearance placements of music artists, TV and film celebrities, and magazine models at clubs, on TV show shows, product endorsements, and other various events.
The entertainment industry bug first hit Mike at age 16 when he started as a dancer on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" by submitting a tape from local Maryland dance show named "Shakedown," in which he won a local club dance contest in order to show off his moves to the TV viewers. More dancing on various shows followed: "Dance Party USA" in Philadelphia, "Shakedown" in Baltimore, Md., "The Grind" in Los Angeles with Nia Peoples as the host and "Party Machine."
"I was a spotlight dancer for approximately eight months on 'Bandstand,' six months on "Dance Party USA," and the others maybe a few months," Mike recalls. He then began assisting a local Washington, DC nightclub owner, by working in hospitality and as a VIP host for the artists and celebrities they would book every week at the venue, developing contacts and establishing friendships with most of the artists he came in contact.
Mike caught the eye of Ken Feingold, a partner in Triple Platinum Records and Entertainment, who asked him to join the company as an A&R scouting representative and promotions director in 2004.
While still organizing promotions and bringing in new talent and revenue-generating concepts like record release parties, listening parties, after-concert parties, music video locations, etc., Mike started getting contacted by others who were interested in securing talent at their clubs and events throughout his home area of Maryland. This prompted him to open Esterman Entertainment, a full service talent booking company, in 1998, which now includes booking after-concert parties and appearances in Washington, D.C. with artists like Ginuwine, Black Eyed Peas, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, CC Deville of Poison, Bubba Sparxxx, Allen Iverson, Carmen Electra, Rob Base, Amerie, MYA, Tyson Beckford, Alicia Keyes, Usher, Nelly, Beyonce, Fabolous, P. Diddy, Dave Navarro, LL Cool J, Wyclef, Ashanti, Ja Rule, among others.
"Shortly after, I began receiving calls from promoters and club owners like Angel Sanchez, Philip Neary and Kevin Novak in other cities to set up after-concert parties for artists performing in their cities all over the country where their tours would travel to," Mike notes. "I also received overseas calls from club owners and promoters worldwide like Mike L. in London and Eddie Perez in Dubai.
"Then I was asked by Ginuwine, Amerie, Bubba Sparxxx, Black Eyed Peas, Chingy, Vince Neil and TV show notables like Dorian Gregory ("Charmed"), Gary Dourdan ("CSI Vegas"), The Gastineau Girls ("E TV"), Guiliana DePandi ("E TV News") to book appearances, shows, or concert dates while in the same area, as it's all about making them extra revenue where possible," Mike adds. He also started booking appearances for Wedding Crasher movie actresses/models Camille Anderson, Ivana B., Naureen Zaim and Karen Miller, plus Deal or No Deal TV show models Lyela Milani, Sonia, April Scott, Aubrie Lemon and Claudia Jordan, as well as magazine models from Maxim, Playboy, FHM and Stuff. These appearances range from meet and greet, conventions, health clubs, radio stations, nightclubs, autograph signings, hosting contests or promoting their shows or movies to the public.
"There are always various types of locations ready to take advantage of these special appearances shown in the weekly newsletter highlighting what's new on the roster or special deals allocated at that time.
I'm now in the process of expanding the scope of operations by venturing into new areas of marketing and entertainment," he notes. "I will be partnering with media giants like Triple Platinum Entertainment to produce its own TV show, and provide in-house marketing and endorsements for Triple Platinum's clients and the motion picture industry."
"For Ginuwine, we have secured a 20-week stage play, 'Sweet Potato Pie,' that kicks off Sept. 11 in Chicago, followed by dates in South Bend, Ind., Sept. 11-17; and Washington, D.C. at Warner Theatre, September 19-24," he adds, noting that more dates will be released soon. "I booked him into the play to try it out three months ago in Detroit. They then signed him on for more shows; he's had a lot of fun doing this."
What artists have you placed with product endorsements?
Kevin Federline with GoldenPalace.com placed in his music video. MTV Real World cast with Samsonite Luggage and Rockstar Energy Drinks; Cindy Margolis with RingTones.
What makes a good agent?
There are several aspects of the booking industry besides just securing talent. To be successful you must establish working relationships with artist management and keep contact with promoters and talent buyers. Another key to success is to have a business plan that allows your business to operate at its greatest capacity. I've never had a client not paid what they were supposed to be, and if there was ever an issue, it was always addressed and dealt with in an open and honest manner. This type of dedication and thoroughness is hard to find these days in this industry.
Why did you stop dancing?
I was over 18-years-old and too old for the kids dance show requirements, so I started my own dance show in the D.C. area for the local Channel 20, which at that time was featuring people live at local nightclubs who were 18 and over as my dancers on the show.
First concert attended
Joe Diffie and Marc Chestnut when I was working as an intern liaison for Sony Music in their Mid-Atlantic offices in Maryland near where I lived for a year in 1994.
First event worked
P. Diddy's Washington, D.C. Howard University Homecoming weekend, block party at club called "VIP" in 2004. I was a VIP host for the club, taking care of the hospitality aspects for the artists and Diddy. I learned a lot that weekend about the aspects of booking and what artists needed. That's what makes me a better agent today as I learn with each artist or client I work with.
First industry job
Dancing on American Bandstand while in high school, 1983-84.
Very sad to see and hear about the dishonest middle agents and wanna be agents who one day wake up and think they're real talent agents. They grab a contact number to someone they meet at an event. Then things go bad, and they can't pay the talent what's owed. Due to bad promotion or lack of experience, it gives the good guys a bad name who do good work. People have to just not listen to everything they hear and look deeper and find the legitimate agents.
Keeping all talent travel and bookings organized as a one-man operation; always on the go with only 24-hours in a day to work with; and keeping my contacts updated.
Best business decision
To place profits back into marketing and growth decisions.
Best advice you received
Try to hire an assistant--not yet but have a TV show in the works that will help this area as a major contest like The Apprentice.
Best advice to offer
Always be honest with the deals at hand or they always come back to bite you in the ass. Keep a good name as I've strived to do all these years. The bigger you get or become, the harder they try to throw rocks at you.
Dancing on American Bandstand started this whole career off with a bang in what I wanted to do in entertainment.
Most memorable industry experiences
There are so many from being on the set of films, backstage at concerts or hanging with major names in the industry. It's hard to just name one but working as an agent for product placement or securing the location with Kevin Federline on the set of his music video shoot was a unique opportunity to be a part of.
I look for Cheesecake Factory in any city. I love their choice of menu items and portions.
Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas.
What friends would be surprised to learn about you
How neat and clean I am and that I can be so organized when I have so much going on for just one guy on a daily basis. I also hardly sleep as I am a workaholic.
Industry pet peeve
I don't like when people make promises they can't keep or others think they can wake up and think they're an agent the next day without any knowledge or experience. They give us that have years of experience a bad name when it shows how they treat clients on paid projects.
My salt water fish tank is always a crowd pleaser with my Tangs, Scooter Blennys, Clown fish and Dansels, which are relaxing after a pressure cooker of a day.
My father, who was a well respected man before he passed and instilled values to live by; Ken Feingold with Triple Platinum Records and Entertainment; Neil Cirucci who works with me on my team; and Danny Stroup, who also is supportive with advice to grow by.
If I wasn't doing this, I would be...
...handling the family jewelry business that has been around now for over 35 years.
Mike can be reached at: (443) 336-7331; e-mail: email@example.com