It used to be easier to predict the “next big thing” in entertainment. An artist would work their tail off for years, and then persistence would pay off when they were able to get a single to radio. If that single did well, it led to a second single a few months later, which propelled that artist to a bit more fame, and so on. Now it seems like anyone can be hugely famous from one single (or viral video for that matter), radio means much less than it used to, and social media interaction can make a huge difference. It seems like artists become either hugely famous or disappear from the music scene overnight. With everything moving so quickly, how can anyone booking entertainment grab an artist on the rise? How can you ensure that the artist you pick is one on the rise and not one on the brink of extinction?
The answer… take a risk! The music industry is full of risk. That’s the name of the game. If you want to play the game, you have to be okay with a moderate amount of risk. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t make smart, well-researched choices. Here are six tips to help you successfully choose an artist on the rise:
1. Move quickly
When an opportunity presents itself, make an offer. Don’t wait. This is THE most important tip. If you have to talk to seven different committees, present the idea to an organization that meets once per month, or jump through any major hoops to make an offer, you are going to miss your golden opportunity. The early bird gets the worm, and the early bird can also save themselves a lot of money. Within a week, artist prices can double or triple. Ask the buyers that scored Taylor Swift for $7,500. I’m guessing they’ll tell you it was the best quick decision they ever made.
2. Trust your gut
Many people have a knack for discovering talent early. When you hear a song and your heart starts beating faster, that’s a good sign. I remember the first time I heard Sam Smith. Their voice was undeniably good, their music was catchy, they were collaborating with other artists in unique ways, and I had “that feeling.” Because their asking price was so low, I began to tell every buyer I could about them. Within a couple weeks, their price has multiplied tenfold.
3. Listen to the experts
There is a reason you work with a middle agent. Use them. Ask them questions. Middle agents talk to entertainment buyers and planners all across the country and are constantly hearing about new artists. We get valuable information from college students, theater and arena buyers, and people in the entertainment industry. If we hear an artist’s name come up in multiple conversations, we know something exciting is happening. If you talk directly to agents, be sure to ask them who the hottest up and comers on their rosters are. Chances are they can offer recommendations on the fastest rising stars within their agency.
4. Watch the numbers
There is so much information available on social media. Dive in! Become a numbers geek and compare social media followers for a few artists on the rise. See whose numbers are growing the fastest.
5. Make your move
When you’ve done all the research, checked in with others, and have a good feeling – make your move! Submit an offer, be willing to get creative with your budget and dates, and ask for feedback and answers. Getting an artist on the rise is all about timing and flexibility. Be willing to work with the artist reps to make it happen. BUT, always be ready to move on to the next option should it not work out. You should always have the next few options in mind when making an offer to an artist, because you want to be able to move on quickly if your top choice doesn’t work out. After all, you don’t want to miss out on the NEXT big thing!
6. Brag about it
A great way to market your event is to brag about other artists you have booked that have blown up. Develop a track record of grabbing the “next big thing” and your audience will begin to trust your instincts. Market the show like CRAZY, being fully confident that your artist choice is going to be hugely famous. Keep pushing the marketing and don’t let up. Your excitement will be contagious. Don’t forget to have the artist sign a poster or other memorabilia that you can hang up! Hang it in a lobby or other public space where potential future ticket buyers can view it. That way you are consistently reminding your potential audience to buy their tickets early for the next big “artist on the rise.”
Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts
Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.
Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts