Many performers at some point in their careers work with entertainment agents to secure bookings but how do these people get into the booking side of the business. Is it something anyone can do?
It does take the right kind of person who can work on the business side of the entertainment business. If everyone were good at doing the business of music and entertainment, there would be not much need for talent agents! The most basic traits you should have are a deep experience in the business and an outgoing People Person type personality. Without those two you would start with a profound disadvantage. The personality, while it is something you can enhance, is most likely something that needs to be hardwired within you. If not, all the knowledge in the world won’t help. As for the experience in the business, at GigRoster™ we’ve found that people who have spent many years performing, ideally as a bandleader or business contact and performer in an act, have the wide range of experience with everything from marketing, negotiating, contracting and the technical needs of a performing act among other things. The jack of all trades nature of being a bandleader can prepare you for the industry knowledge part of being successful.
Sure we’ve all seen agents portrayed on TV. They could be anything from a cigar chomping big wig to a frenzied power broker yelling at customers or artists, their assistant or all three. Is it Rueban Kincaid or Jerry Mcguire or Ari Gold? Just sit back and collect the 10%? Sorry to burst the bubble, but no. None of the above. There is not too much that is realistic about any of them. Being an agent or Talent Coordinator is a fun career, but it is rarely frenetic or crazy. At least not if you are doing it right. You are a part of the actual business side of the entertainment business. See how that works, half entertainment, half business. If we put them together then there is money to be made by both sides. Glamorous? Maybe occasionally, but mostly it is simply like building any other business where you are connecting a service/product with people who have a need to be filled. And by the way, It’s usually more than 10%, just to get that straight up front.
Talent Coordinators and agents need to create contacts with corporate and private customers who may be able to use entertainment services as part of what they do, whether it is corporate promotional events or planning a personal event. You are expected to know the norms methods used in the industry and the trends in entertainment that are working. These always evolve so you’ll need to be curious and always learning. Although the record industry is a different area of the business, think of the great Clive Davis as an example. Clive enjoyed and, as of this writing, is still involved in finding the next great thing. Born in 1932 you’d think he may have stopped knowing what great pop music was in the 50s or 60s. But No. He worked effectively for over 50 years and always knew what the next big thing was. A good Talent Coordinator has this ability. It includes setting aside your personal taste and simply knowing, and truly appreciating, what great entertainment is, no matter what the genre.
Let’s take a step back though. The term Entertainment Agent is a rather vague term and could mean a number of different things.
- A Talent/Personal Manager would usually be considered the person who handles almost all aspects of what an act does in the business, with the exception of getting on stage and doing the performance. This is particularly involved in the artist’s or act’s career development. This could also include any or all of the duties, of booking, marketing, travel arrangements, negotiating and general career development.
- A Booking Agent is typically only responsible for the actual booking of the event. Negotiating, and contracting. Most national acts, bearing in mind that in this case there is money to justify it, would have a personal manager who then works with one or several booking agents to arrange the performances.
- A Talent Coordinator is a little more Customer facing. They fill the function of booking, but often not on an exclusive basis for a few acts. While technically they are paid from the proceeds of an event or performance, They serve the customer and performer in equal measure. Most often they will act as a talent buyer for the customer, Marking up the services that they purchase from performers or entertainment acts. They work closely with customers to help them coordinate the right talent for their events. Think of them as 50% booking agent and 50% Event Coordinator. They rarely would be involved in the tasks that would typically fall to a personal manager since they may literally work with hundreds of available acts.
Depending on the focus of where you want your career to go you may gravitate towards one area or another, or in some cases a hybrid version, such as a talent coordinator who also offer some Talent management services for certain performer clients or booking agent services for certain acts
Depending on your focus It helps to have a little of each of the following aspects in your background.
- Leadership “Take-Charge” Skills
- Public Relations
- Negotiation Skills
- Tenacity and Patience
- Legal Logic
Why Is Experence as A Performer So Important?
If you’ve worked in the business as a professional performer then you will have a built in advantage in credibility as the entertainers you work with will have a level of respect and communication that may otherwise take you years to develop. Likewise you can talk with customers from the standpoint of real life experience doing the sorts of things they will expect at their party, wedding or concert event. You will have an understanding of the needs, the lifestyle and especially the capabilities of your performers, both in terms of their musical or performance level as well as what is actually possible in a live performance situation. Musicians will usually afford you a level of respect and understanding when they know you are one of them that they would not for an outsider who is an agent just because they like music. Even when an outsider has proven their meddle in the business there is still a feeling that the agent does not know the hard work and dedication entertainers have put in to hone their craft. It’s why for instance at GigRoster™ it is in most cases a prerequisite to be an associate Talent Coordinator.
Many of your customers will get their ideas of what they want at their event from what they may have seen on TV or in movies. As a performer and Talent Coordinator you’ll know that making the magic on stage is much more about hard work and preparation and not very much about magic happening as it does on the big screen in the wedding scene of a romcom. Of course if done right, there is the magic!
Working as a performer, in front of others, on stage also may be an indicator that you have a personality that you can turn on and connect with your customers who are, after all, an audience. While it is important as a successful Talent Coordinator to be able to work across many genres, there is a great deal of crossover in the business. Being a blues musician will still help you when you are arranging and booking talent for a festival that may have 10 different bands covering jazz, rock
Everyone who is successful in this business has a different mix of the skills needed to be a Talent Coordinator, but be assured it is not the right career for just anyone. Most people don’t thrive in this area of the business because they have unrealistic expectations of the work that goes into it. In addition to all the skills and background, sometimes it just takes a lot of experience and a lot of time and persistence. We run into amateur “agents” all the time and they are not doing a service for their artists(s) no matter how well intentioned they are. The same can be said of event planners. Just because you like to throw parties for your friends or go out and see music it is a long way from there to being a professional coordinator for talent or events. There are too many times to count where we’ve seen a good band leader who has to pick up the slack for a weak event planner at a party or reception. Don’t kid yourself if you don’t have both the desire and experiences that will set you up for success.
Do You Ned To Be Good At Selling?
Many people express to us they would like to be an agent or talent coordinator but they don’t want to really be doing any selling. Or maybe they just freeze up at the idea that they will be a sales person. Unfortunately if this is not in your skillset then you probably will fail in the booking agent/Talent Coordinator side of the business. That’s not to say though that you need to be a huckster or used car salesperson type personality. Far from it. This is not your grandparents type of selling. In fact, if there is any high pressure involved, you are simply doing it wrong. On the other hand you have to be good at engaging with prospects and letting them know the benefits of using your acts and even more importantly, your services. In this business you are more a guide helping people get what they want. Listening and getting prospects pointed in the right direction to fill a need, or even a dream of what they want for entertainment. It is the very essence of strategic booking sales.
Strategic Booking Sales
At GigRoster™ part of our training includes Strategic Booking Sales For Talent Coordinators. Remember the days of one-size-fits-all? One size never did fit all, did it? It was similar to what professional sales were like where one approach was considered effective for all customers. Those days are now over, and today strategic account management (SAM) is the method of choice.
What changed? An emphasis on individual customers and their needs became the most important priority for Talent Coordinators and GigRoster™. Instead of going at a sale one way, you, as a Talent Coordinator, now need to understand how to identify key targets, learn who the gatekeepers are, how to approach them to gain information and discover how to get a foot in the door and then become the easiest way for them to fill their needs.
GigRoster™ Talent Coordinators can best develop their strategies by understanding the strategic sales process and the competition. We teach how to build customer satisfaction and individual performance through customer relationship management (CRM). It’s all about relationships. We literally built our back office system on the Hubspot CRM platform to help our Talent Coordinators develop this.
Working With Your Customer Base
You always need a way to organize your customers because you could have a few hundred in your pipeline at any given time. You must stay in touch, give them valuable input, answer questions, gather information and be there to guide them from the inception of an idea to the implementation of the entertainment for their events and follow-up afterwards.
Making sure you have an accurate and usable customer contact list with customers and companies in the right categories will be a powerful tool for your business. This means you will always be curating, which is just a nice way of saying, keeping the contact up to date. Making sure the email and phone number is correct. Checking to see what type of customer they are categorized as so you can bring them up in your filtered searches. Keeping good notes on what they do and how we can work with them. What kinds of talent do they book. What time of year do they usually book it, etc. The GigRoster™ Hubspot Integration provides a very robust way of making sure your customer list, truly the heart of your growing business, is useful to you by combining every different customer function.
We've done a great deal of customization for the GigRoster™ Hubspot Integration. It can look like a daunting task when you are just starting in the business, but it provides a virtually endless resource that will let you grow your business as much as you'd like with a healthy mix of repeat customers and new customers.
As you begin to build a strong business with your repeat customers, selling will begin to take much more of a backseat role in how you help your customers. In each sales relationship your goal is to cross the line from someone who is selling to someone who is on the customer’s team, working, sometimes literally, in concert with them! Then your job becomes even more enjoyable as you have the freedom to use your creativity to create great bookings and events for them.
Does this sound like your mindset or the way that you can thrive? Yes, you do need to be able to sell, but you won’t realize you are even doing it as you build your customer base.
How Can You Start Building If You Don’t Have A Customer Base?
At GigRoster™ we teach the proven method of reaching out to 10 new potential buyers or legitimate prospects every day. It might seem like pretty basic knowledge that if nobody knows about your business, they can't buy from you. But oddly enough we see that as the major reason why any of our team members may not do well as a GigRoster™ Talent Coordinator. They simply are not getting the word out to enough customers or potential customers and the most basic way is a simple personal phone call or email to someone who is a potential or presumed buyer of talent.
What does this involve? Simply making a commitment to take pride in your business and letting 10 new people who do not know what you do understand all the things you can offer when they are ready to book entertainment. This does not mean bulk emailing or sending a postcard (or even 100 postcards.) It needs to be truly interactive and personal. In order to count it needs to be a two way street. It does not have to be, and will rarely be an instant booking on such a contact. It must, however, be a contact which involved two way communication. Acknowledgement that they understand what you do and that they can reach out to you any time they have the need. In other words, if you send an email and get no answer, it does not count. If you make a phone call and leave a message but never get a call back, it does not count. If you email someone and they say "Thanks, but I am not looking for anything",Thank them for getting back to you, and yes, that counts even if it is a "No" for now.
Network Network Network!
It is, in its basic form 10 - 2 way encounters with people who could potentially use you either now or in the future. No, It really does not take long. Often, like browsing the internet it leads you down new paths and opens new ideas as you reach out and spread the good news about your business. Check out the kinds of customers you may want to consider at the end of this article.
The Goal: 10 personal contacts per day, 5 days per week The Result: 50 contacts per week, 50 weeks a year (OK, yes there are 52 weeks per year, take a few weeks off!). That's 2500 new contacts each year who can potentially hire you directly OR refer you to others. It's not magic. It's just math, and in the promotion of your unique product, it works!
If this sounds like something you can do then being a Talent Coordinator or agent might be a success for you.
There Is A Steep Learning Curve
It is good to realize that being a Talent Coordinator or Agent is not something you can do well from day one usually, but if you have the right tools, then you can certainly get off the ground much faster. If you want to do it as an independent “one person shop” that is certainly possible. You have the advantage that unless you invest a lot of money into the business in advertising or infrastructure you’ll be able to take your time and learn the ropes as you go. You can’t really go out of business unless you fail financially. We can tell you some pretty good stories of silly mistakes we made when we started up. Over time, we learned and built GigRoster™ into a nationwide concern. It can be done.
Working as an employee or independent agent with a larger organization is something that works well for many so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The infrastructure is in place and the training and support system gives you the confidence to start booking talent as soon as possible without the worry that you are not prepared with everything from a stable of acts to formal contracts when the time comes. The training and resources that an established organization can provide is really the key to success. Someone has already made all the mistakes and has a robust system in place that is a turnkey solution to build a business as big as you’d like to. In this case you will either be on salary or more often a commission split that lets you choose, how, when and with whom you will work. Larger organizations also have the ability to provide leads to you to supplement your personal prospecting efforts.
GigRoster™ Professional Entertainment offers an excellent opportunity for people in all areas of the entertainment industry. Booking, Artist Management and Event Management is certainly not a new concept, but GigRoster™ created a system that allows you to get started quickly in growing a business that is suited to your abilities and interests. There is virtually no limit to the direction you may grow your business but one thing is sure; The resources available through GigRoster™ to you as a Talent Coordinator are like none other organization. This system allows you to step into the “game” and play ball with the major players because you will have at your immediate disposal more resources than most talent buyers or talent managers ever have, let alone what any individual can put together on their own.
Here Are a Few of The Types Of Clients That Talent Coordinators May Be Providing Talent For!
Airports, Alumni Student Organizations, Anniversary Parties, Art Gallery Openings, Assisted Living Facilities, Associations, Awards Night Parties, Baby Showers, Bachelor Parties, Bachelorette Parties, Banquets, Banquet Facilities, Baptisms, Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Barbecues, Beach Parties, Birthday Parties, Boating Yacht Clubs, Breakfasts, Breweries, Bridal Showers, Brunches, Car Shows, Casinos, Casino Events, Casting Calls, Catering Services, Celebrations, Chambers Of Commerce, Charity Organizations, Children's Birthday Parties, Chinese New Year Parties, Christenings, Christmas Parties, Church Services, Cinco De Mayo Parties, City Or Municipalities, Customer Appreciation Parties, Club Events, Cocktail Parties, Colleges, College Reunions, Commercials, Commercial Shoots, Commitment Ceremonies, Community Events, Concerts, Conventions, Corporate Events, Corporate Functions, Country Club Events, Cruise Boat Parties and Events, Cruise Ship Talent, Dances, Dinners, Dinner Dances, Divorce Parties, Easter Celebrations, Election Day Parties, Elementary Schools, Engagement Parties, Entertainment Venues, Events, Event Facilities, Event Planners, Gala Functions, Fairs, Father's Day Parties, Festivals, Communions, Fraternity Parties, Fundraisers, Funerals, Golf & Country Clubs, Golf Events, Government Organizations, Graduation Parties, Grand Openings, Halloween Parties, Hanukkah Celebrations, Happy Hours, High Income Customers, High Schools, Holiday Events, Holiday Parties, Hospital Special Events, Hotel Events, Jazz Festivals, Jazz Nights, July 4th Parties, Labor Day Parties, Library Concerts, Live Music Venues, Luaus, Luncheons, Mardi Gras Parties, Marriage Proposals, Meetings, Memorial Day Parties, Memorial Services, Middle Schools, Mother's Day Parties, Movie Openings, Multi-Day Events, Museums, New Year's Eve Parties, Non-Profits, Nursing Home Events, Oktoberfest Parties, Parades, Photographers, Picnics, PR Advertising Agencies, Adding Your Business to Preferred Vendors Lists, Press Media events, Private Individual Events, Private Membership Clubs, Private Parties, Proms, Quinceañeras, Rehearsal Dinners, Religious Organizations, Resort Events, Restaurant Events, Retail Stores, Retirement Parties, Reunions, Saint Patrick's Day Parties, Santa Claus Events, School Assemblies, School Districts, Shopping Malls, Sorority Functions and Parties, Sports Teams, Studio Sessions, Team Building Events, Temple Events, Thanksgiving Celebrations, Top Tier Large Customers, Trade Shows, TV Shows, Valentine's Day Parties, Veteran's Day Parties, Vineyards and Wineries, Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies, Wedding Cocktail Hours, Wedding Planners, Wedding Receptions… the List goes on, but in case you are wondering, there is nothing on this list that GigRoster™ has not booked talent for in the past.
What can you think of that we've missed!
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