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Written by Ramsey Brown.
We’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. In the music business, this phrase is certainly true. If you are an artist trying to land a live performance gig, then a talent buyer is the person you should want to know.
If you’ve ever attended a music festival with an awesome lineup, it’s because the talent buyer behind the scenes made it happen. One of the most important aspects of a good talent buyer is understanding the audience and putting together acts that best appeal to that market.
However, this job is not as straightforward as it may seem. In this article, we are going to discuss the ins and outs of talent buyers in the music industry. We’ll dive into exactly what they do, what role they play in the music business, and everything musicians and performers need to know about getting in contact with them.
At large, a talent buyer is a liaison between a venue or event space and a performer or the performer’s representative party. They are responsible for finding and booking the appropriate acts for a specific venue, festival, or event. Many big-scale venues and entertainment companies such as Live Nation or AEG have designated talent buyers on staff who work to find performing acts for that specific venue.
The role of a talent buyer varies widely but their main responsibilities are to scout talent, facilitate agreements, negotiate contracts, and act as the point of contact for hired performers or their agents. Most talent buyers, especially those working for larger venues or companies, spend much of their time on the computer answering and sending emails.
Talent buyers receive many artist submission cold emails from acts looking to get booked for gigs. If you are an artist who is wanting to reach out to a talent buyer in hopes of landing a live performance slot, there are some things you should know before doing so. These people can either make your performance dreams come true, or they can break them. So, keep reading to learn 7 things you’ll want to know about talent buyers before pursuing contact with one.
Talent buyers often work closely with booking agents when putting bills together, but they are two separate entities that should not be confused for the same. A talent buyer represents the venue or event, while the booking agent represents an artist or band.
Oftentimes for smaller acts, the artist manager will also take on the role of an artist booking agent. Meaning that along with their managerial duties, they also take on the role to help the artists book gigs. In this case, the talent buyer will be working with the artist manager who is acting as the booking agent in certain situations.
As we already mentioned, talent buyers can receive hundreds of emails in a single day. These emails often come from artists representing themselves or representatives who are reaching out on behalf of an artist.
With that said, it is nearly impossible for a single person to read and respond to each email inquiry they receive. 9 times out of 10, when you reach out to a talent buyer, they will not respond. Not because they think you and your music stinks, but because they simply do not have the time in their schedules to do so.
If you’ve been reaching out to a talent buyer and haven’t gotten a response back, don’t give up hope just yet. There are some tricks of the trade that will help your email submission stand out from the hundreds of other emails they are receiving. We are going to discuss how to truly catch the attention of a talent buyer via email in some of the points below.
Professionalism will take you a long way in the music industry and in the eyes of a talent buyer, it is a make-or-break qualification on whether or not they choose to book an artist or not.
Out of all of the emails a talent buyer receives, they tend to filter out and only consider the ones that are well-written and worded in a professional manner. The easiest way to increase your chances of getting a response from a talent buyer is to use these best email practices mentioned below:
Use a formal & professional email address — not your personal one.
Create a specific & direct subject line such as: ‘Booking Inquiry for July EDM event’. Never use ‘Hey’ or ‘Book Me’ in a subject line.
Triple check your email for any misspelled words or grammatical errors. If you can’t get through a few paragraphs without errors, how can you get through a live show without making errors?
Keep the email body short, sweet, & to the point.
Always include links to streaming & social media sites.
Including an EPK or Artist One Sheet will always get you extra points
Mention any data from past shows such as ticket sales, venue revenue, audience demographic, previous acts you’ve opened for, and size/capacity of other venues you’ve performed at.
As an artist, you should already know the importance of building professional relationships in the music industry. If you are a musician trying to get new gigs or an agent trying to book gigs for an artist, you will inevitably need to build a relationship with a talent buyer in order to do so efficiently.
Before cold emailing a talent buyer, try finding out if you have any mutual industry connections. See if your mutual contact can start the email conversation for you first. If they can CC you in the email and make the introduction on your behalf, you will get much further than just you reaching out on your own.
This way, you are not just another so-and-so artist seeking out a gig, but an artist who has been recommended, vetted, and vouched for by a reputable colleague. If you can’t get your connection to start a conversation first, in this particular situation — it doesn’t hurt to name-drop that mutual connection in the body of your email.
Whenever an artist is submitting for a live performance, or discussing any business matters at hand, it is always a better look to have a representative on your team reach on on your behalf.
There becomes a point in every musicians life where they become too busy to handle their own business matters. This is when booking agents and artist managers come into the picture to assist.
When an artist agent or manager is reaching out to a talent buyer instead of the artist themselves, this shows the the buyer that this artist is legit and established or busy enough to have professional representation on hand.
If you are an artist who doesn’t yet have a manager or booking agent but you want to get live performance gigs and appear as professional as possible, here’s a pro-tip — first, create an email with your band name and booking in the address. For example: ‘[email protected]’.
Then begin reaching out to venues and talent buyers using that booking email address only.
Now comes one of the most oldest tricks in the book — instead of reaching out using your name or band name, create a different name and act as if this ‘person’ is your booking representative. Artists and bands do this every single day and it works like a charm.
What do you think looks better in the eyes of a professional talent buyer…
“Hi, this is Sally, booking agent for the Best Band Ever. I wanted to reach out on behalf of the band and express our interest in playing your venue….” or
“Hi, this is the Best Band Ever. We are interested in performing at your venue….”
(you can thank me later)
You’ve always been told to do your research on a company before attending a job interview. Well, this same advice relates to reaching out to a talent buyer. Before sending an artist submission email, you should first gather some information about the person your reaching out to, the venue your trying to play, and the event taking place.
Simply finding out the talent buyers name and addressing them personally will take you much further than a ‘to whom it may concern’ email greeting.
Use social media to your advantage and do a little recon on the buyer running the venue. Through your research, you may find out that the venue books predominantly rock bands and you’d be a perfect fit, or that you went to high school with the talent buyers sister.
Consider any avenues when thinking of ways to stand out from the hundreds of other artists who are all doing the same thing you are trying to do. Be careful not to be overly creepy and get overly personable when doing so, nobody likes a stalker.
This refers back to the second point we made — talent buyers purely lack enough time in their busy schedules to respond to each and every email submission. If you email once and hear nothing back, it definitely doesn’t hurt to send a follow up email within the next week or two.
Eventually when a buyer repeatedly sees your name in their inbox, they are bound to open your message and give you a reply. However, it’s important to note and recognize the fine line between being consistent and being annoying.
An email every couple of weeks looks like a consistent artist who is simply hungry for work. An email every few days can seem like a desperate artist who has nothing else on their plate. Talent buyers like to see artist who are busy and playing other shows, so don’t come off as too needy for one particular gig.
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You seem sincere, so just a little free advice from a guy with 34 years’ experience as an attorney and a fair amount of time before that as a journalist and teaching journalism to university graduate students. In both of these trades, effective writing is the practitioner’s most important tool. Write carefully; edit what you have written; have one or more collogues review your work.
Try it yourself, starting with this blog article. It will pay dividends, or more correctly, failure to write well will be costly.
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© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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