Inside the Ever-Changing Job of a Talent Buyer
As a junior talent buyer for concert promoter and event producer C3 Presents, there’s no such thing as “just a regular day” for Cyprus native Nicol Kuburoglu B.M. ’22. Based in Austin, Texas, Kuburoglu started her talent buying career at C3 in July 2022, and also has had the chance to work artist relations at major festivals such as Austin City Limits, Innings Festival, and Lollapalooza, where this August she’ll work with the Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) artist—and coincidentally, her former Berklee roommate—Tyler Christian.
Essentially, a talent buyer is the mediator between a touring artist and a venue, working with both parties to negotiate all the details from pitch to placement to payment. While a talent buyer’s process is more or less the same, it is far from predictable, and Kuburoglu says the whole ordeal generally takes two to three months, but can be shorter or much longer.
In the following Q&A, edited for length and clarity, Kuburoglu talks about her road to C3, her love of working with artists at festivals, and how studying music business/management at Berklee helped guide her to new opportunities.
What does a typical day at C3 look like for you?
Nicol Kuburoglu: Yeah, I mean, one day I'll wake up and I'll have to pitch, like, five artists, and then I have to do a settlement for a show that played out over this last weekend, and then I have to send this offer for this artist. And there's no one thing for one artist; it's kind of chaotic. There's a lot going on 24/7. And we book for a lot of venues. I think in total—this is off the top of my head—like maybe 10 different venues and maybe seven different casinos in total. We book year-round for most of the weekends for all these properties.
[At C3] we have the opportunity to . . . jump outside of your job and get experience in other areas. It's been amazing coming out here and joining C3. . . . I think it's definitely been the best decision I've made.
That sounds like a lot to keep track of. How are you and your team able to stay organized?
Kuburoglu: The way it's kind of working now is we split the properties. Even though we all work together as the West Coast team, and we still kind of jump in on other properties when someone needs help, I primarily focus on the Reno areas and northern Nevada.
We use [project management software] Asana to plan out and know where we are with the process with every single artist. So, the second we pitch an artist, it's added onto the property list on Asana, and then we kind of have a checklist of like, “Is this artist pitched? Where are we with the offer? Are we waiting for the property?” and that's been helping a lot.
What has it been like to work at some of the world’s biggest music festivals?
Kuburoglu: When I joined C3 last year, my boss hit me up, and he was like, “Hey, do you want to work ACL [Austin City Limits]? I can get you in with artist relations [AR], and you can start to kind of build up from there with festivals.” And I was like, that'd be great, because that's all I wanna do.
So, I worked for AR for ACL for both weekends last year. A lot of that was basically just checking in with the artists, making sure that they have their towels, their dressing rooms—everything the stage managers needed to run the show, from when the artists arrived to when they left.
[At C3] we have the opportunity to dive into all these different areas we want, and you get to pretty much explore every avenue you want that C3 is involved in, so you can kind of jump outside of your job and get experience in other areas. It's been amazing coming out here and joining C3 and seeing all the opportunities. I think it's definitely been the best decision I've made.
Berklee helped guide me into an area that I specifically enjoyed. And then once I got the opportunity to work in it, I explored it more.
You were roommates with Tyler Christian, the BPMI artist performing at Lollapalooza this summer. Will you be helping out with that event at all?
Kuburoglu: I'm working for artist relations at Lollapalooza as well, so I'll be working with Tyler's team and the BPMI team to when Tyler gets on stage.
I knew Tyler from like the very first day [at Berklee]. Tyler was probably one of my closest friends throughout the whole of my time at Berklee. And then when I graduated, I knew Tyler was doing BPMI, and I was really hoping when I joined C3 that Tyler would land Lollapalooza because I knew I'd get to work with them. So, it just kind of worked out.
What else from your time at Berklee has influenced your career thus far?
Kuburoglu: I originally came to Berklee thinking I wanted to go into sound engineering and production. I was interested in business, but I was really conflicted. And it wasn't until I took some classes with Lou Fabrizio, and he kind of like changed my whole mindset on business. When I took his classes, I was like, wow, I actually love business. I was really intrigued by it and I wanted to learn more about it.
There was [also] Ralph Jaccodine who brought in a lot of industry professionals. That's how I learned the difference between a talent buyer and an agent. It's the small things like that [that helped give me an] understanding of “What specific jobs can I do”?
I feel like Berklee helped guide me into an area that I specifically enjoyed. And then once I got the opportunity to work in it, I explored it more.