In this podcast you’ll discover:
- How Talent GB aims to empower the artist
- How the idea for Talent GB came about
- Easy and simple methods that’ll get you the best results in terms of exposure and enquiries.
- The essence of a good quality showreel
- Why you need to find as many ways as possible to tell people how good you are
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Listen to the Podcast:
Brad: I’m with Neville Thurlbeck. Neville was the founder of a website in the UK called TalentGB.com. The reason why I wanted to get Neville on to the podcast was because websites like this are becoming increasingly popular and offer an alternative way on how to promote your band.
His was one of the best that I’ve seen. They’re effectively exchange platforms where people that are looking to book your band or any types of entertainment can come and check you out, look at your profile and make an inquiry for you direct. They’re not an agency. They cut out the middleman.
Neville, how are you?
Neville: I’m very well indeed. Thanks, Brad.
Brad: Was that a decent explanation of what TalentGB.com is?
Neville: It was absolutely precise, Brad. What we aim to do is to empower the artist. We don’t control. We don’t take commission. We allow them a platform, a stage, wide across the UK, to display the quality of their act, their contact details, the all-important sound clips and showreel, and so people can audition them on the Internet, watch them, listen to them, and hire them direct.
Instead of taking 15% from the artist per gig, a lot of our artists find that the annual £30 subscription fee is a bargain. That’s what we aim to do. We aim to provide them with, A, exposure with, B, value for money.
Brad: Okay. I should mention that everything we’re going to talk about here is just as relevant for our US listeners because there are websites like Gig Masters and Gig Salad in the US, and I’m sure in other countries as well which are doing a very similar thing to Talent GB.
What’s your background, Neville? Where have you come from? Why Talent GB and why now?
Neville: My background is newspapers, Fleet Street newspapers. I was the news editor and chief reporter at News of the World prior to its closure. After its closure, I was looking for something to do. This idea came to me literally while I was asleep. I woke up one morning with this idea fully formed. I thought we’ll put it into action and see what happens.
The reaction we got from artists was pretty overwhelmingly positive. There are a few people who still prefer the old commission arrangement. That has been raised a few times amongst our artists, something we’re looking at. Maybe we’ll have that option available for some people.
The thing that appeals to them really is that it’s all very well having your own website as a band. If it’s well-designed, looks good, it might make you feel good when you watch it. But is it getting out there? The key is—and this comes from my newspaper background, I’m afraid, I can’t shake it back—circulation. It’s getting out there, getting seen.
The average website doesn’t get seen very much. You need to have a lot of search engine optimization going on. You need to be high-profile and visible. That’s our goal. Once we’ve got the quality of the website correct, once we’ve got the correct artists on, we do quality control here.
We select our artists. We invite them. All artists can apply. But once you got the right quality on a good quality website, the third most important thing is getting the website on, getting Talent GB out there. We do that in a variety of ways.
Brad: Okay. Before we get onto that then, just looking at the website as it stands at the moment, you obviously have a significantly large database of various acts from after-dinner speakers, through to dancers, through to magicians, through to bands. How can people find what they’re looking for on here? Presumably, you’ve tagged all of the entries and the profiles, have you?
Neville: Yeah. It’s the dropdown menus and the regions are the key. For example, if you are getting married and you want to hire a jazz band to perform at the function in the evening, and you come from Manchester, what you would do is you would go to one of the 14 regions. In this case, it would be northwest England. You would search under the dropdown menu “jazz band.”
Or you could do it the other way around. Very quickly, you can home in on the particular genre of band that performs in your area. When you’ve done that, you then have a look at each band to see if you like the look of them and the sound of them and their class. If you do, you ring them or email them and hire them. It’s as simple as that.
Brad: Right. That inquiry goes direct, does it? It doesn’t go through you?
Neville: It doesn’t, unless the artist wants that. There are a handful of artists. I came across one last night, a very good Andrews Sisters style group called the Spitfire Sisters. They were not happy with the £30 fee. They prefer to work on a commission-only basis. That’s quite rare. Basically, the £30 can be covered by one gig in a year. That seems to be the way we’re going. But I’m not ruling out obviously other methods.
Brad: What’s that bands can optimize their profiles to get the most out of the platform that you’re promoting effectively? What can they do to make that work for them?
Neville: What they need to do is look at some of the best acts on our sites—they’ll pretty much jump out at you—and copy what they’re doing. That’s the simple explanation. Now, what the best bands are doing is, first of all, making sure they’ve got a good show reel on YouTube.
A good show reel isn’t necessarily a video cam in front of your live recording. In fact, that is probably the worst type of show reel you could have. It will be chaotic. There will be background noise. It will be too far back. You won’t pick up the quality of the band.
What you need to do … The best show reels are often kind of a pastiche. I noticed Jivin Miss Daisy has a very good one. In fact, I’ve just been watching it now. It’s very good, along with other bands who do this, because they will blend together.
The whole range of their repertoire … If they do blues, if they do swing, and if they do big band as well, they might combine all three genres in one 3-minute show reel. What they might do is they might record the video of a live performance, but then edit it and maybe overdub it with a very good quality MP3. This gives the best show reel.
The show reel is key. Nobody hires now if they don’t see a show reel. There’s no point in a band putting itself on the web without at least a SoundCloud sound clip because everybody’s doing it. That’s first. The first thing is to get a good quality show reel put together. Spend money on it if necessary. Spend maybe £1,500 or £1,000. It sounds like a lot of money, but you’ll get the gigs.
If you’re good and you have a good show reel, you’ll get the gigs. It’s sad when you see … when you can see there’s a very good band on the website and you can hear them. They’re all good. They’re very accomplished. They’re clearly very good, but their show reel is poor and it doesn’t do them justice. They won’t pick up the gigs because of it. That’s very important. Now, we’ve said the show reel is the most important factor.
Brad: On that point, I think there’s a big psychological barrier that a lot of artists have in the difference between an expense and an investment.
Brad: If you see the £2,000 … It doesn’t have to be £2,000 pounds. You can spend £700, £800 and get something pretty basic done and still be very good. If you see that as an expense, the chances of you doing it are going to be slim. If you see it as an investment, it’s … psychologically, it’s a lot easier to deal with.
Then, you can break down, okay, what if we spend the £1,000, how many gigs do we need to pay this back at £100 per gig? Well, it’s 10. Okay, so we need 10 gigs. Right. There’s your goal.
Neville: I’ll go one step further, Brad. I would say this. If it’s a psychological issue, which I think it is, the enormous expense is a psychological issue, I would say you don’t reckon it. Even in those terms, I would say it’s a bit like starting up in practice as a dentist without a dentist’s chair.
You need that chair. You need the equipment there. If you’re a mechanic in a garage, you can’t start a business without a set of spanners. It’s the same with function bands. You cannot be in business. You cannot be a professional unless you have a professional show reel. You have to save up and start in investing. After you got your instruments together and your amps and your equipment, the next thing, vital thing, is the show reel.
Brad: Okay. Excellent. All right. So we’ve got the show reel. Then, just looking at the profile here, there’s a number of different things. You’ve got the description, testimonials, previous clients, FAQs, the contact details, so you can actually link away from the website onto your own website.
Brad: Yeah. So you’ve got this full opportunity to do that, and then, obviously, the media side of things as well. Is there anything that bands can do to ensure that they get displayed more often in the search results?
Neville: You can obviously get some help from people who can do search engine optimization. They can tag very heavily.
Brad: I mean specifically on Talent GB. Is there any particular technique or is it just filling up your profile the best that you can and making it as optimized as possible?
Neville: There’s that, but if you want to get yourself out there a bit more, I would advise very careful but frequent views of Twitter and Facebook, and especially Twitter, because most of the bands are on Twitter. If you use it intelligently … When I say intelligently, it’s no good just saying, “Look at me. Look at me.” People get fed up with that.
But if you are engaged with people on Talent GB, if you perhaps post pictures of yourself at gigs, announce gigs, or even better, comment on gigs, praise gigs when praise is due, and link to your Talent GB profile at the same time. You’re saying, “It was a great gig. I went to see Jivin Miss Daisy last night. Superb vocalists,” which you do. I’ve just been listening to one. Very good. Then, say, at the end …
Brad: I should mention, the reason Neville is saying Jivin Miss Daisy is that it’s one of the acts which I manage. Sorry. Carry on. You were saying…
Neville: Then, link to your Talent GB profile so at least people are getting some valuable information about the qualities of Jivin Miss Daisy. They’re also getting something else as well, and that is a little “look at me” at the bottom. Whenever we see, whenever Talent GB sees one of our artists tweeting like this, we will always retweet them. You can find that within the space of maybe 10 minutes.
Quite a few thousand people have got to see your profile. We find that extremely effective. We’ve just been going just over year, and we’ve had such … just over 70,000 hits from a standing start. Looking at the Google Analytics, it’s … I can’t remember the exact figures are, but it’s something like 82% comes from Twitter referral.
Bands are often surprised at how even some of the younger bands don’t … haven’t quite grasped that yet, aren’t on Twitter, or use it badly. A lot of bands do selfies, and it’s all about me, me, me. They’re not interacting. Some of the big indie bands do this all the time.
It’s all about me, me, me and they’re not interacting with their fan base. People turn off from that. But the smart ones are the ones that interact intelligently. You soon find they’re getting more satisfaction out of their … and more results from their Talent GB profile.
Brad: Right. It’s helping you help them effectively, really, isn’t it?
Neville: It works both ways, Brad, actually, because we benefit as well. Talent GB benefits. But if Talent GB benefits, then, of course, the artists from Talent GB benefit. It’s a symbiotic relationship, really. It works both ways. When we tweet, retweet one of our band members, it increases their profile and of course ours as well at the same time.
Brad: Right. Okay. Excellent. All right. Some good stuff there. Let’s say we’ve got a profile out there and we’ve done our best, why would we not necessarily be getting inquiries then? Is there any reason? Let’s say that we’re a half decent band. We’ve got a video out there. What might be the reason why we’re not getting inquiries?
Neville: Normally, we find … If the band is good, we normally find that there’s something not quite right with the profile. It can be a bad video or sometimes the band oversells themselves and may sound expensive. They might say, “We’ve been the backing singers for Joe McElderry and a little bit of work on The Voice.” A lot of bands do a little bit of work on it.
If you self-aggrandize too much, then you can look a bit out of people’s pay range and too glam for a wedding. Oh, dear. It may be a little bit too grand for our humble little wedding. That’s important.
Other things, very basic things, are your description box on the website. In other words, the words that describe you, your biography. It has to be intelligently put together, intelligently punctuated, paragraphed neatly. If it’s chaotic and you’re not spelling things correctly, you’re missing out apostrophes, then … I don’t mean to sound like an old pedant, but it’s off-putting. It doesn’t look professional.
People think, do I want these people turning up at the wedding? What are they going to be like? They missed out four apostrophes, three full stops, and started three sentences without a capital letter. Are they going to turn up without their trousers on? There’s that as well.
Brad: I think the rule of thumb there is, would you put that biography on your own website?
Neville: Would I what?
Brad: I was saying, would … If you’re actually filling in your profile on Talent GB, would you … If you had a whole bunch of spelling mistakes and the grammar was bad, would you put that on your website?
Neville: What do you mean?
Brad: I’m saying would the person filling in their profile, would they put that on their website? If not, then don’t put it on Talent GB either.
Neville: Yeah. We’re not all best spellers in the world. Just find one person in the band or their mom or their father just to come and look at it and say … If somebody were there who can write nicely and succinctly and put it together for you, because it’s the first thing people see.
If it doesn’t look right, there’s always a dozen other bands like that one. They’ll click somewhere else. It’s often the first impression. What does it look like? The pictures are good. The video’s fantastic. The description is easy to read. It’s not too self-aggrandizing. You become more appealing.
Brad: I mean one of the things I always try to impress on what we do is you do the “I” and the “we” test. If there’s too may we’s and I’s in your description, it’s probably a little bit self-centered. There’s should be a lot more you’s in there, i.e. what can you do for the client?
Neville: A lot of times, a very … a lot of artists, by their very nature, have to be very egocentric. Let’s be honest. There are some genres in the entertainment industry that are more egocentric than others. Bands, young bands in particular … Old bands tend to be a bit more laidback, but young guys particularly tend to be very egocentric.
It’s all about me, me, me. That’s a very, very good point, Brad. That is very, very off-putting because what it says is, it says … it gives out totally the wrong message for a wedding function.
A wedding is not a performance. You do not perform. You’re not on the show. You are the background music. That’s all you are. You have to be very good stylish background music. It’s not a concert. If you’re referring yourself in the first person all the time, like you said, Brad, then that is totally the wrong message.
Brad: I think the big mistake that a lot of people make, a lot of bands make is they think that the platform is solely the thing that is going to bring their inquiries in. It’s not. It’s the entry that you put, the content that you place on that platform, which is the thing that is going to drive the inquiry. What the platform does for you is give you more exposure …
Brad: … so it can drive traffic to your profile on that platform. But the profile and the content within the profile is what actually drives the inquiry itself.
Neville: Correct. Absolutely. We’ll get you … make you visible. We’ll put your wares on the show, but it won’t necessarily get them purchased.
Brad: There is no magic bullet. There is no click of the fingers and, oh, we found this great platform. I’m just going to throw a few words out there, put my video up there, put the prices up in the link, and I’m going to start getting bookings. There’s way more to do than that from what I can gather.
Neville: It’s absolutely correct. There are stages that people … that artists progress through. Some artists never progress past stage one, stage one being sitting in the bedroom, strumming a guitar, singing into a hairbrush, looking at yourself in the mirror.
The second stage is getting on the website, performing badly with a bad show reel, bad biography, thinking that your music will say everything about you. It won’t say everything about you. It’s too insular to think that way. Funny enough, the group of artists that think more along those lines than any other group, the comedians, they are very bad at self-promoting.
They’re almost reluctant to do it. They believe that they … what they do is a real art form, which of course, it is. They think their art will speak for itself, a bit like a poet. But it’s not the case. It’s not the case with bands. Your music won’t speak for itself. You need to get it packaged correctly before people will buy it.
Brad: Well, I always hear and I get on Facebook and platforms where I interact with a lot of people that come into contact with Gigging Success. Some people will say, “What a load of rubbish. You just have to be good. You don’t have to market yourself. You don’t have to do sales. You just have to be good.”
It couldn’t be farther from the truth, sadly. The other point about this, and this is where I wake up and I have this on my office wall as well, if you’ve got something great, if you know you’re really good, you should do everything in your power to tell as many people how great you are.
Neville: Absolutely. Absolutely correct.
Brad: That means having to sell yourself and market yourself so you can communicate how great you are to those people that are most likely to ultimately want to book you for their event.
Neville: It’s all very well being good, but we must tell people about it, tell people how good it is. Actually, when I was in newspapers, we used to boast about circulation, because tabloids always do that. We used to say, “We’re selling four million papers or five million papers. We are the best in the world.” People begin to understand that. Then, the numbers, group of people buying it, increased because they are aware they’re buying the biggest selling newspaper.
Brad: Well, that is social proof in action, really, isn’t it? The equivalent of that is in the sitcom when you hear canned laughter.
Neville: Yes, indeed.
Brad: Yeah, it brings on laughter because you feel as though everybody else is laughing so you’re almost carried along psychologically with it, aren’t you? Yeah.
Neville: Success breeds success. If you have a successful band, you have to tell people, in the right way, that you’re successful. You have to do it with an air of modesty. But if you have performed in front of 500 people and you have 30 people at the door taking your picture afterwards when you left, you need to say that, maybe by just thanking the people for doing that, for being there, thanking the 500 people and the people who queued up for tickets.
Brad: Well, Neville, thank you. We’re out of time. That’s been great. There’s some real interesting things that came out there. I think, to me, it feels key to not just throw your content up on a platform like TalentGB.com, but actually think about almost treat it like a second website.
Neville: Absolutely right.
Brad: Then, you’re going to get more out of it than you would otherwise have done. Well, listen, Neville, thanks very much. It’s been really interesting. Hopefully, we’ll catch up with you in the near future and see how Talent GB is going. Just before we go, where can people get hold of you? It’s TalentGB.com, is that right?
Neville: That’s correct.
Brad: Okay. If they go to the “contact us” page, they can get hold of you there as well. There’s some pages about your team and what services you offer, is that right?
Neville: Absolutely. If anybody wants to be on it, all they have to do is send me an email with a link to some material. We hope to have you on. I must say one thing. We have some very good acts on, but it’s not all about being famous.
Brad: Fantastic. Neville, thanks very much. We’ll catch up with you in the near future.
Neville: My pleasure, Brad.
Brad: All right. Talk to you soon.