Talent buyers are responsible for identifying and booking the appropriate talent for a particular venue or event, as well as managing the show's budget, assessing whether the bill will sell, and determining whether a more vigorous promotional campaign is needed to fill seats. The process varies greatly depending on demand for the venue, the venue's size, and the talent buyer's own employment situation. For example, while a talent buyer working for a venue focuses on finding artists, talent buyers who work for production companies likely need to find venues in addition to artists.
A good ear is paramount for assessing a band's level, and strong communication skills are essential for negotiating with agents of more established acts. The most successful talent buyers also have a deep understanding of musical taste, genre, and audience; scoring a highly regarded act means nothing if the booking doesn't appeal to the core audience that typically fills the venue. There are many other ideas to consider before making an offer to an entertainer, including acoustics and setup; competing events; fair ticket prices; projected refreshment sales; and the potential need for an opening act. Depending on their employer, talent buyers may also hire the production team, secure equipment, and advertise the events. They work closely with venue managers, concert promoters, and event operations coordinators.
Talent Buyer at a Glance
One doesn't necessarily need a college degree to work as a talent buyer, but an education in sales and marketing or music business could be a huge help—both in doing the job and getting hired for it. Most begin the career with an internship at a concert promotion company or as the assistant talent buyer for a large venue, positions in which they can learn the basics of the industry. Talent buyers can go on to become concert promoters, venue managers, or festival directors—members of the live music industry with whom they work closely.
Talent buyers work for many live performance organizations including music, theater, and other live-entertainment venues; music or event promotion companies; and festival organizations. Aspiring talent buyers should seek out an internship at any of the above companies, ideally one that offers experience booking artists or venues. One can also show commitment and drive by attending as many shows as possible and meeting venue managers and other live-music industry players face-to-face.
- Entertainment contracts
- Media relations
- Ticket sales
- Musical knowledge
- Good ears (listening, nuance, genre)
- Venue management
- Organization and multitasking
- Communication skills
This role revolves around relationship development and industry knowledge, so good talent buyers have an excellent memory for names, faces, policies, audiences, and music. An analytical, organized, and detail-oriented mind helps keep track of the many variables involved in planning a concert, and how each variable might affect profit, reputation, and other measures of success.
Multitasking skills are essential to talent buyers, who are usually corresponding with many different artists and teams at once, each for different dates or even different venues. Ideally, they're also congenial people with whom bands and agents would want to work with again.
Whether working out of a small in-venue office, an affiliated office in a separate building, or from home, talent buyers generally keep standard business hours, during which time they research acts, make deals, and solidify their venue's calendar. While the main job takes place during the day and behind a desk, talent buyers often need to be on hand at the venue at night and on weekends to ensure that the artists are happy with the booking, or simply to act as the face of the venue.