THE TRUTH ABOUT TALENT BUYERS
WHAT IS A TALENT BUYER?
Talent buyers book bands at the venues they work for. In the world of entertainment, talent buyers are the venues only advocates. Don’t think for a second an agent or member of management will have pity for ignorance. The team managing an artist, DJ, magician or national touring act has two priorities. The first is to make money, and the second which is arguably the most important is to protect the artist. This means the agents basically act as a barrier or middle man if you will for the artist or band.
Some artists will work directly with a casino or venue or promoter, but most do not because having an agent frees up precious time. A lot of people seem to be easily confused by the differences between a talent agent and a talent buyer. We believe it is critical to understand what talent buyers actually do, how they operate, their advantages and disadvantages, how they get paid and how they differ from a talent agent.
Our intent is to provide important details and insight on a topic that is heavily argued industry-wide with the hopes that it will somehow help your venue or company make a more educated decision. Let’s face it, none of the artists show their pricing. The best thing you can do is find an honest sounding board.
WHAT TALENT BUYERS ACTUALLY DO
Talent buyers act as a liaison between venue and talent agencies. They facilitate contractual agreements for promised services and often provide service to support the events they are buying talent for. A typical talent buyer spends most of the day checking/sending emails, doing research and working on the computer.
HOW DO TALENT BUYERS OPERATE
Most talent buyers work with a small team but some are part of a bigger entertainment company like AEG or live nation. The role of a talent buyer varies widely, but in general, they work remotely via laptop pre-event and are onsite the day of show.
THE ADVANTAGES OF HIRING A TALENT BUYER
There’s an abundance of advantages to hiring a talent buyer. The following are just a few to mention:
- The best talent buyers save you time
- Good Talent buyers save you money – like a lot of it
- You have an advocate like the artist – And you should in the art of negotiations
- Your reputation isn’t hurt if a deal falls through or an artist doesn’t get paid
- Talent buyers can help manage 3rd party production vendors, advance shows and a lot more
THE DISADVANTAGES OF HIRING A TALENT BUYER
- A bad talent buyer can ruin a properties reputation – Once you pay $22,500 for Hells Belles you can never offer less – you will be known for paying inflated prices
- Sketchy talent buyers like to “buy-sell” acts – this is where a talent buyer purchases the artist's service in advance and sells it to the venue or casino at a markup that is unknown – sketchy
- Some talent buyers do not share the contracts between the artist's agency and their company
- The talent buyer gets the credit for the money your property is spending
- You become reliant on a 3rd party buyer
- A LOT of talent buyers are old, tired and lazy, which means they respond slowly if at all and have old outdated ideas
HIRING THE RIGHT TALENT BUYER
A talent buyer can be your best friend or long-lasting worst enemy. When selecting which talent buyer to use, always consider your future strategy not just your current situation. A great buyer will have endless amounts of regional data, accurate pricing for reference and killer ideas.
Sketchy talent buyers will have little to no hands-on concert experience, be best friends with the CEO or marketing director, want to make all the decisions and ruthlessly drain your venue's bank account without you even knowing it.
Pro tip: Always follow the best practices and procedures to help prevent recurring unethical entertainment deals. The RFP process exists for a reason., use it to your advantage. Your entertainment program is unlikely to achieve true sustainability if you are not following good business methods.
HOW IS A TALENT BUYING COMPANY DIFFERENT THAN A TALENT BOOKING AGENCY
All talent buying companies work with agents who represents the artist and their talent booking agency. The venue is usually represented by the talent buying company and the artist is represented by the booking agency or group of agents within.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE AN ENTERTAINMENT BUYER
As the pool of talent buyers continues to grow, the cost of hiring one continues to sink. During the gold rush, a skilled talent buyer would make 10%-15% on everything they booked. Nowadays you are seeing talented buyers offer exclusive multi-year agreements at 7.5% and lower for booking national acts, lounge entertainment, and production management.
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK, HOW CAN I HIRE A TALENT BUYER?
There are only 2 steps to hiring a talent buyer in the right way.
- RFP + Discovery: Research the best available options and outline all venue objectives for discussion. Once you have selected your candidates, follow best practices to execute a proper RFP. It is always good to start things off with an informal phone call or virtual meeting.
- Agreement & scope of work: After the initial meeting, an in-person follow up is recommended. This is an opportunity to meet the vendor and client in a more personal setting to discuss the scope of work intended. At this time the talent buyer and venue can also start the negotiations for term, duration, and compensation for their talent buying contract.
ARE YOU AN ARTIST?
Have your agent contact us: Seattle Entertainment Group is a full-service entertainment company, not a booking agency. But, we do accept artists and agents submissions and occasionally host live auditions all throughout the country. We encourage agents to send us their routed options and avails weekly since most casinos and resorts have shared spaces and calendars change often.
ARE YOU A VENUE?
Contact us to connect with talent.
If you are an executive, tribal councilman/woman, tribal casino CEO, or non-profit entity and you are looking for the best artist at a fair market price, Seattle Entertainment Group always delivers.