Pro Tips for The Savvy Event Talent Buyer

Perhaps you were drawn to this article by the curiously unsettling title. Or, perhaps you have a bit of PTSD over the last group you hired for an event. Just consider this post a little support group for the traumatized talent booker. Here are a few easy ways you can blow it in booking . . .

1. A REEL Problem

No Demo Reel? This is a great way to step out on a limb. With everyone running around like paparazzi with video-capturing smart phones these days there is really no good reason for an entertainer to be without some sort of footage. Unless... they realize that they might not be hired if you really knew what they sounded like!

TIP: It is not so important that the demo is a multi-camera, pro edited video with flying 3D logos and such, it truly just needs to show their skills in the capacity in which they are advertising themselves.

2. Photo Fraud

'Wow! This entertainer has really played the big time - look at all of these great photos of high-end events!' You swiftly glide the mouse to the "Book Now" button and, viola, they are yours, all yours. 'Hmmm . . . Amazing how they were at the same event as that other group on that last site.' You ponder.

Welcome to the wonderful world of stock photos! This brings the whole "fake it till you make it" phrase to life. Did you happen to wonder how that poor starving musician was able to have so many professional ariel views of their gigs? I am sure mom and dad bought their rising star a drone.

TIP: Too good to be true? Do an images web search with the band/group's name and see if you can find any candid photos of live performances. Do they look like the same people? Is the setting consistent with their promo images?

3. A Very Important Date

"Hey - slick website!" You are impressed. But, mother always told you, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Mother was right. Scroll down to the bottom of the page - do you see a copyright date? Hmmm . . . it hasn't been updated since 2012. "Oh well I'm sure their even better by now!"

Buyer beware. Just like marriages and Kit Kat bars, groups break up. There can be some rough patches and adjustment time when a group loses a key player - you don't want your event to to fall in that time frame.

TIP: Check out all of the group's social media pages. Have they been updated recently? Do they show photos, videos, and events that are current or recent? While Mr. Webmaster dude may have overlooked the date on the website, social media is usually fairly active for an actively performing group.

4. Quote Quota?

"Wow! This quote says this band is the best they've ever seen!" You scroll down the entertainer's EPK page . . . "These chaps have played some big name events!" That's it, I'm sold.

Years ago, when my sister and I were just kids, we splurged and paid for a "Busker's Permit" in St. Louis, MO. We sang and danced some pretty top-name venue addresses downtown - pretty impressive for a 10 and 12-year-old. In case you didn't catch on, a "Busker's Permit" is for a street performer. We would sing and dance for crowds outside theaters while they waited for the Box Office to open. Now technically we did perform at the address of these top name venues, so shouldn't we put them on our website? No. Why? Because it would have given the clients a false sense of our experience at the time.

TIP: Check the initials of the person giving the rave reviews. Are they close to the same initials of any of the band members? Does the quote note the title, position, or organization associated with it? Keep in mind that someone may have played "The Hollywood Bowl" . . . on farmer's market day . . . or danced on the stage at "Radio City Music Hall" . . . while on a backstage tour.

5. Rapid Responder

"Okay, it's only been 3 days - I'm sure they will get back with me after the weekend." You have the patience of a saint!

You should be concerned if you don't hear back from an artist within 2 business days. However, many professionals receive alerts on their phones, so they can often attend to your questions within minutes or hours nowadays.

TIP: Select an artist that is a good communicator. You want to be sure they will respond to you about last minute event changes, emergencies, etc. They should ask YOU what YOUR preferred method of communication is - phone, email, text, homing pigeon, etc.

6. Blushing Boss

"Heh heh heh," you chortle at a slightly crude joke on the entertainer's demo reel. "My boss has a good sense of humor, he'll be cool with this. Besides, I have a good vibe about this complete stranger I found on the internet, I trust him and you can't beat this booking fee!"