Finding and booking talent can make or break your event. At live events, when the talent is usually the centerpiece, booking the right talent and finding the right match may be intimidating. But with a thorough understanding of your event, who the audience is, your budget, and other aspects of the event planning process, you can garner the skills necessary to navigate booking and securing talent. Below we will be outlining some of the key facets of booking talent and what to consider when hiring talent for your event. Additionally, we will provide you with some tips on how to navigate the talent booking process. While finding and booking talent can be tedious and challenging, having these tools under your belt can make a difference.
Define the Event Vision and Audience when Booking Talent
The first step to finding and booking talent for your event is having a clear idea and understanding of the event’s vision and the central goal or mission. If you don’t understand why the event is being organized in the first place, who the prospective audience is, and the details regarding where and when the event will take place, finding talent that aligns with your event will be difficult. Consider the type of entertainment required, genre of music, audience age range, and other demographics while searching for the right talent. What kind of performance are you seeking? Do you want a solo singer with a track, a full band, a magician, or a dancer? Consider genre, as well. For example, if your event is targeting older country fans, you shouldn’t try and book a young pop artist as the talent since that can affect ticket sales and audience turnout.
On the flip side, are the event goals even centered around the talent, or is the talent just a supplemental addition? In other words– is the talent and entertainment the motivating factor that will push ticket sales or are they not the central attraction of the event? Completely understanding your event goals will help you select the best talent to support and elevate the event. Moreover, knowing the desired genre, type of entertainment, audience demographics, and event details (such as date and location) will help your search for the right talent. The logistical side of booking talent, such as finding talent that is available to perform your event date and sorting out travel accommodations, will be affected by your understanding of these event details.
Create a Budget for Booking Talent
Booking talent for your event is only one part of the event budget, so being cognizant of what is realistic and which talent fits within your budget is essential. Depending on what the event is, aiming your sights on top A-list talent may not be realistic since their performance fees could far exceed your budget. Moreover, the performance fee is just one part of the entire cost for the artist. The artist’s fee ensures they will show up and perform, but the additional hospitality requirements outlined in their rider, including catering and food requirements, any lodging and ground transportation accommodations needed, and any equipment or technical requirements add to the cost. Make a realistic budget, account for every aspect of the event, including your price range for booking talent, and consider all the extra costs associated with hiring the talent.
Having a comprehensive idea about what your budget is will help you in the long run and save you time when researching potential artists. When it comes to booking talent, there are so many potential options, but knowing who fits within your budget range will narrow it down. The right artist for your event will be the one who works within your budget, so having this information mapped out is an important step of the process.
Research Potential Talent via Social Media
Once you have a clear idea of what the event’s vision and goals are, and what the realistic budget looks like, you can begin researching potential talent. Additionally, while conducting research, keep the desired genre, type of performer, where they’re based out of, and audience demographics in mind. Utilize social media while searching for potential talent. Artists of all sizes and levels of popularity have websites and a social media presence. Be selective about who you want for your event. Scan their pages, find videos to see how they perform live and determine whether or not they might be a good fit for your event. Looking at an artist’s social media can give you insight on who their built-in audience is and can inform you if their audience aligns with your targeted audience for the event.
Compile a good list of potential talent, and be flexible about the artist selection. Maybe you had your sights set on one artist, who ends up being unavailable on your event date or is way above your budget. Creating a solid list of other options is good practice in this case, for it allows you to move forward with ease and have alternate options.
Moreover, with unrepresented artists, you may have to send over cold emails directly to them to book them for your event. Make the subject line simple and state the event date and event location. Keep the content of the email concise, tell them you’re interested in booking them, tell them the general overview of the event and the mission, and clearly communicate the venue, date, and time of the event. Reach out to several artists you found in your research. See who replies back and is interested, and then you can move forward with discussing rates.
Consider Booking Local Talent for Your Event
Depending on the size of the event and the event’s specific vision and goals, booking local talent may be a good route to go. Not only is it a budget-friendly option but it may work better with your event to attract local communities to support emerging artists. It may be a long shot to secure big top acts, so having some local talent options that are more affordable and more available is a smart alternative. Again, it depends on what the event is, but for community events especially, local talent from the community itself would work well. Search local Facebook groups, do a social media scan, and see who is performing at small local venues to find local talent that might be interested in performing at your event.
Contact Talent Agents
If the talent you’re looking to book has an agent, you will need to go through their representative to book them. Usually, artists’ websites will include contact information for their agent, or have a booking inquiry form you can fill out. Include all the pertinent information: when is the event, where is it happening, what’s the event’s vision and central mission, and ask for a quote. Don’t disclose your budget yet, as they may dismiss your inquiry if it’s too low. Shop around and see who is interested and fits well within your budget and event.
Be cordial when talking back and forth with agents, for building and nurturing these relationships with the agents can aid the talent booking process down the line. Researching reputable agencies and reaching out to them about the artists they represent may be a streamlined method of finding and booking talent. If the agent can directly supply you with the artists they represent and a list of quotes, it may cut some time from your research. Remember to remain professional when contacting agents, for these connections can be important in your future when booking talent.
Negotiate Booking Fees and Create Contracts
When asking an agent for a quote, you need to be prepared to negotiate. If the artist’s booking fee is below or within your budget– perfect. But, in the scenario where it’s above your budget, but still attainable, you still have a chance to negotiate and make it work. Make a counteroffer, and use free drinks, food, lodging, etc. as leverage. Once you’ve negotiated back and forth and have settled on a fee that works for everyone, it’s time to create and sign contracts to seal the deal. There are a few essential terms to include in your contract. First, you should include the basic information about the event, including who is performing, where they are performing, when they are performing, what time they are performing, and how long their set is expected to be. Next state the agreed-upon booking fee, and outline what the deposit will be and when it is due. Most performers go with a 50% deposit to hold the date, but it can vary depending on the event.
Additionally, include a clear description of services required, which should describe what the booking agreement is–who is performing, for how long, and any other performance details. A contract may also include any hospitality obligations, including lodging and the number of hotel rooms needed, or if there’s ground transportation needed. Once you get the artist’s rider these accommodations will be laid out in more detail.
Moreover, clauses should be included in the contract to both protect you and the artist in case of cancellations. Other clauses like force majeure and radius clauses may be included in the contract, as well. Force majeure clauses are included to remove liability in case the event cannot occur due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as natural disasters. Radius clauses are included to ensure the artist doesn’t perform at competing events within a certain radius of the event for a certain period of time before or after your event. While every contract looks a little different, these are just some basic terms and clauses to be aware of when booking artists and creating performance contracts.
Plan Logistics and Rider Requirements
After all the contracts are signed, it’s time to acquire the artist’s technical rider, hospitality rider, and stage plot. To sort out all the logistical needs, you need to have access to these documents and review them for everything needed on the event day. Logistics such as hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and any needed equipment need to be sorted out in advance– so be sure to review the riders to see what is required. While part of the booking talent process is finding and securing the right artist for your event, the other part is ensuring that the artist is taken care of and their needs are met. Curate a positive experience for the artists you work with. Read their riders and contracts in detail, be organized, and make sure all their requirements are covered by the event day.
Booking talent for your event relies upon several factors. Your own ability to understand what the event is about, what kind of performance is needed, what your realistic budget is, and your research skills are keys to narrowing down your options for talent. Additionally, having a grasp on the right genre for the event and audience demographics will be beneficial to you in the booking talent process. Through practice, finding efficient methods that work for hiring the right talent will develop, but understanding these basic parts of the process will aid you along the way.
Of course, you can make the process much easier by hiring an entertainment booking agency to do this work for you. A good agency will have the expertise, resources, and relationships to make booking talent for your event easy on you, while also potentially saving you money in the process. They can negotiate performance fees and riders based on their knowledge and relationships with artists’ management and agents.
Consider this. An agency such as TSE Entertainment has 48 years of booking talent and dealing daily with artists’ agents and management. Contrast that with an individual or group who is either new to booking or booking only a couple of events. Who do you think can get the best artists at a fee you can afford? Who do you think agents will take more seriously? The entertainment booking agency does 90 percent of the work, and you still save money and your time in the booking process.
Whichever route you take, I hope this article will provide a better understanding of the process of booking talent for your events.