Talent Booking Consultant
When a festival, club, or other live performance venue is seeking new talent to showcase, they turn to a talent-booking consultant that specializes in a particular area, such as comedy or music. This person is a scout that combs the local or national underground scene to find the unknowns and diamonds in the rough.
A talent booking consultant may work for a wide variety of employers, from festival producers to club owners, with the mission of scouting and recommending exciting new performers that can draw in audiences. This individual typically specializes in a particular genre, like stand-up comedy, music, or variety acts. Just how the consultant goes about finding talent is entirely dependent on the needs of the show or venue, but there are several methods at this person’s disposal.
Of course, the old school method (and still preferred) is to pound the pavement at other venues or mine open mic nights and new artist showcases. There is no substitute for observing a performer live—it is vitally important to see how the artist works the room, if he or she can capture and hold the audience’s interest. With the emergence of YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sharing sites, talent booking consultants can now comb through demo reels of artists covering a much larger territory, no longer sequestered to one local region. In some cases, open auditions may be held to fill potential slots in a show’s lineup.
By whatever means appropriate, the talent booking consultant puts together a list of recommended performers, generally inviting those artists to perform for the producer or venue owner or to submit a video demo reel. Ultimately, it is not up to the consultant who makes the final cut, but his or her opinion is weighted heavily. The consultant is hired for his or her expertise and proven ability to bring in noteworthy and saleable talent. Taking into consideration the specific needs of the client, the venue, and the target audience, the consultant culls a talent pool to fit the bill. Other related responsibilities may include communicating with talent agents and working with in-house talent bookers to schedule performers. Generally, the talent booking consultant does not handle the administrative tasks or contract negotiations to actually secure talent for a gig, only scouts and makes recommendations to the client. However, a consultant can be hired to also perform the tasks of a talent booker.
Skills & Education
A talent booking consultant must have considerable experience in one or more areas of specialization; this experience may come from being a seasoned performer, casting director, talent agent, or even a critic. There is no specific prerequisite of employment history, only that the consultant has an extensive background in the performance side of the entertainment industry, especially in music, comedy, theater, or related area. However, there are several skills necessary to this career, not the least of which is a great eye or ear for talent. Whatever the genre, the consultant must be keenly aware of what is popular, what sells, and what is the next big trend that is about to blow up in the mainstream. Good taste cannot be learned in a classroom but must be gained through time in service—developed organically based on inherent ability and absorbed wisdom. A specific degree is not required for this career, but the individual should have a foundation of education in one or more areas of the entertainment industry, specifically focused on business and/or performance.
What to Expect
A talent booking consultant’s value is measured in his or her practical experience and proven track record of finding impressive new performers. At the end of the day, it amounts to the tickets sold and profits counted that stand as evidence of a successful scout. A consultant may find regular, full-time employment opportunities with a live performance venue, festival, or other event production company. He or she is also able to work on a contract basis as a freelancer, taking on multiple different assignments for various clients. The career can require extensive travel when scouting out-of-town, as well as an obligation to work nights and weekends—as do performers. Those interested in a career as a talent booking consultant can prepare themselves by finding opportunities to work as an assistant to a casting director, talent booker, or talent agent. The knowledge gained in such roles is excellent training. In addition, finding internships or entry-level roles with festival production companies or venues offers one the opportunity to get to know owners and producers, while learning how the talent booking operation works.
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