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  • Kari Lynn Larsen

choosing talent for your next event

As event producers, we are involved in various aspects of handling the entertainment portion of events. From researching, designing and coordinating, to sometimes just managing the talent after a client has chosen and booked them. Guaranteed we have worked with all kinds of acts; cirque type performers, rock bands and even opera singers on stilts…yes, you read that correctly! In all the various types of performers we have worked with and seen, some have rocked it, some were so so, some fell flat, some were great to work with, some were divas. Occasionally it’s a nightmare behind the scenes, because the proper research and planning was not done. When booking talent for your event, there’s a series of key questions we recommend you ask yourself first to make the process easy and stress free. Here are our tips for choosing, planning, and booking entertainment for your next event so YOU look like a rock star!

Know your Audience

First and foremost, this is key and should be carefully examined before you jump in and book your entertainment. What is the age demographic of your attendees? What is the gender demographic? Is networking a key component to your event? Maybe that loud rock band you’re looking at is not appropriate then. Be sensitive to your audience. Are there hot buttons that should be avoided? This should especially be considered if looking at booking a comedian. What we’re getting at is know your audience… what interests them and make sure the entertainment you book is age appropriate and suits the theme of your event.

Know your Event

Like above, knowing your event is important too. What is your event? Why are you having this event? What is the theme of your event? Does your venue dictate the theme? Do you have a budget for entertainment? These may seem like silly questions, because of course, you know why you’re having this event! But you would be amazed at how often we see this ignored because somebody on the planning committee wants the latest “it” performer. Examining the what, why and how, will definitely help you in choosing the right entertainment for your event.

Know your Venue

You’re probably chomping at the bit to get to the “booking the talent” tips but this next tip is vital before you start your search for entertainment. There is nothing more frustrating than going through all the research to find the perfect act to find out your venue doesn’t support a large enough stage or you can’t rig for cirque aerial acts. Get all the info on your venue first! What are the regulations of the venue? Will you need sign off from a fire marshal? Are there rigging points? Can you have open flame? What kind of insurance will you need? Your venue can definitely dictate what you can and cannot do in terms of entertainment.

Start your Research

So at this point you’ve done the research on your audience, your event and your venue. NOW you’re ready to start researching talent. There are definitely some key tips to making this process smooth and to ensure your outcome is successful! Work with reputable talent agencies. Ask for videos of live performances. It’s great that the hot new band you’re considering has beautiful music videos, but can they perform live? Do they engage their audience? Do they sound just as great live as they do in a recording studio? Be prepared to ask lots of questions. We often work with a checklist of questions so as we’re talking with multiple agents we don’t forget anything. Questions such as: What does their price include? What’s not included in their price? What do they require technically? If they’re a band or troop, how many performers are included? Do they have a technical rider? A hospitality rider? (A rider is a set of requests or demands that a performer sets as criteria for their performance). Other questions could include: How long is their act? Can they customize their act? Is it interactive with the audience? Do they need rehearsal time prior to the event? What is involved in their set up? This list of questions could go on and on but typically we will tailor it once we know what type of act we’re booking and based on the details of the event.

Make it WOW

This seems like an obvious one, but when all of the above is not followed it’s really easy for the entertainment to fall flat. You want to make an impression so remember to engage your audience. Don’t be afraid to be creative. We often hear “oh that’s just too creative for our attendees” but what we really see is, the more creative the entertainment, the more “WOW” factor is involved. Don’t be afraid to mix it up; maybe don’t hire the same band every year. And remember, your entertainment sets the tone.

Have Everything in Writing

One word for you…CONTRACTS! There’s a reason we have them, and we recommend having everything in them.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Have a Back Up Plan

Sometimes during the research process, your first choice suddenly gets booked before you had a chance to reserve them. To avoid this, sometimes we will put a soft hold on the talent if we think the client is going to really like them. Often a contract and price can’t be negotiated, or something happens to the performer prior to your event. Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have a backup plan.

We hope these tips help you come across as the AMAZING talent that YOU are. Feel free to drop us a line at if there are other event planning tips you would like to read about.

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