What the **** is a talent buyer?
Interview with Arnaud Cordier, talent buyer (fancy word for music programmer), working for the Festival d’été de Québec.
Right before we met with Arnaud, he’d gone to pay an artist, and as soon as we were done, he went to feed another artist. He’s a busy man, but also one who cares deeply about his work.
1. What exactly does a talent buyer do ?
A. C.: Well basically it’s just searching for bands that look and sound good and maybe have them play at the festival. Searching talent all over the world and seeing what’s going on, if it’s possible for the festival. I am a booker basically. I am not the only one at the Festival d’été de Québec, we work as a tag team.
2.Does a talent buyer have to worry about the budget when choosing bands?
A. C.: Yeah, a lot of bands that I just want to have here at the festival, it’s impossible, because money-wise we’re so far away, so they’re asking for much more. Each time it’s a kind of a one-off situation. Like Jake Bugg this year, he’s just in Canada for three shows. I just spoke with his manager and he was telling me how it’s nonsense to be here right now, but how they are glad to be here at the same time. So in the end we’re winners here, because we make that happen. You have to know also that Quebec city is a third market city, if we are lucky. So we need the help of friends in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, sometimes New York, to book other gigs for these artists.
3. What’s the difference between booking a room all year long and booking a festival?
A. C. : It’s the budget (laughs). Also, when you’re working for a small venue with just five people in the office, you don’t only book. You bring food and drinks to the band, you help with loading and unloading the gear. At the festival, i’m only booking.
4. Do you think of the crowd when you are booking the artists or you are thinking mostly about the quality of the bands ?
A. C.: First of all, it has to make sense because we want to sell tickets. The other bookers and I, we’re such fans of small bands, but it’s impossible to book them on the main stage. So first of all it’s the people. If we don’t have sales, it’s impossible to have great bands coming here. So sometimes it’s commercial of course, and sometimes when we have Queens of the Stone Age or the Kills, it’s something different, left field. You want to have bands that bring out a lot people, to book some smaller bands.
5. What’s the band you’re most proud of booking in this year edition?
A. C.: It’s impossible to name one band. But I really enjoyed Odissee on Saturday. A really great great gig, those guys we’re so nice. Also, No BS! Brass Band, it was the first time that they were playing outside the US, so they we’re so happy to be here and they played two awesome gigs. And maybe the last one is Seryn. They’re from Denton Texas, and what I’ve seen is something that will be really big in one or two years.