Talent Booking Tips for Your Nightlife Venue


Booking DJ Talent for Nightclubs

Consumers nowadays aren't accustomed to showing up to a nightlife venue without there being a catch. Whether it's a bar special or a themed event, the occasion has to include a special "it" factor to truly captivate the audiences' attention.

A majority of the time "it" is all about the talent that's brought in, whether there's a prominent name in music or entertainment that the marketing teams can leverage to pack the house and ultimately bring in the money. But it isn't as easy as calling up an artist and writing them a check. There are key areas of talent buying that have to be approached carefully and by following these particular steps recommended by a top New York City pro with years of experience in the industry, you'll be well on your way to producing a stellar event.

Know Who You're Working With

Unless you have a rolodex similar to Ari Gold's, talent buying isn't as easy as picking up the phone and calling up the artist to cut a deal. Take EDM DJs for instance - artists that are in an extremely popular genre that are in high demand. The bigger the name, the more prominent the representation they have. "The demand for top EDM DJs created by [recent] trends has put their management and booking agencies in the driver seat," says Ilker Oguz, director of marketing and entertainment at Indayo Group, a New York City-based marketing and hospitality firm known for events featuring prominent names in music and entertainment. "This makes it harder to book the top names and more costly." While some venues may have the funds to book a big name DJ, he recommends that at times it's best to work with acts that are nearby, especially when they're on tour in your area. "If the artist is performing in your city, you have a chance to book an after-party hosting or performance gig at a discount," says Oguz.

Timing is Essential

As with many other aspects of life, when it comes to booking talent for your venue, timing is key. Chances are you already have particular weeklies at your venue - and if you don't you may want to consider implementing a proper entertainment program. Top-notch bookings should only enhance those weekly events that you have in place, according to Oguz. "To do a bigger booking every four to six weeks will help keep you relevant with competing venues and will also help create a buzz," he adds. "The booking provides content that your internal team and staff can use as ammo to garner press or translate to revenue with bigger clients looking to attend the event." In regards to timing, it's also important to keep major holidays and annual events in mind, meaning that if the Super Bowl is coming to your town, it's time to haul in the big names that come with it.

Ticketing Depends on the Venue

Just because you have what you may think is a big selling event on your hands with a premiere name tied to it, doesn't necessarily mean that you have to sell tickets. This all depends on your venue. Are a majority of your sales typically tied to bottle service? Then you may want to shy away form forcing that high-end clientele into purchasing tickets before even stepping foot into the club. "Certain upscale clubs prefer to cater solely to their bottle service clientele and might disregard advanced tickets, believing that tickets may cheapen the brand," Oguz says. "On the contrary, a lot of venues look at ticket sales as an added critical revenue source to help offset the cost of the talent spend."

Spend Money to Make Money

Saving a few bucks and booking a good artist doesn't translate into a successful event that brings in a lot of revenue. If it's a big name that you're going for - which typically comes with a big price tag - then sometimes it's best to just pull the trigger and book them, because chances are you'll most definitely be reaping the rewards as a result of the act. Oguz says that nightclubs that book names like Calvin Harris and Tiesto, shelling out upwards of $100,000, put themselves at an advantage by drawing in a high-end crowd that's looking to have a full-blown experience at an upper-echelon venue and agree to bottle minimums that hover around the $10,000 mark. "The biggest misconception regarding talent is that you need to be cautious when spending money," he says.

Don't Force It

Unless someone holds a gun to your head and yells, "Book Hot Natured on Friday night, or else!" there's no need to force any booking. Everything should feel like it falls in line naturally for you to go through with ensuring you bring the proper talent to your venue. "If you feel that the timing may not be right or the price just isn't right, trust your gut and wait until the next booking opportunity comes along," Oguz says. Once you feel that the right booking is in place, then it's really all about the execution, most importantly, cross promotion. "Identifying social media trends, whether it's incorporating contests for comp tickets or focusing on image or video-based content" can go a long way, according to Oguz.