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  • Writer's pictureSarah Scott

Industry Feature Friday: Carlos Lopez (Talent Booker)

Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!


Please welcome to the conversation, Talent Booker: Carlos Lopez!!


Carlos has over a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, and he has established a reputation as a talented and dedicated entertainment professional. If you don't already know him, you need to know him!


Here's a little more about him with a quick write up from the Calgary Songsmiths:


"As a former Promotions Coordinator, at Bell Media, Carlos has a proven track record of managing high-profile events and executing successful marketing campaigns. Carlos’s expertise and passion for the industry have allowed him to work with some of the biggest names in entertainment.


Most recently, while being the Entertainment manager at Whiskey Rose Saloon in Calgary, Carlos developed a live music program inviting all genres and creating a safe and fun space for artists to perform leading Whiskey Rose to its first Country Music Alberta Awards nomination as Venue of the Year thus solidifying Carlos’s status as a valued player in the field. We'll have that, and our one-song-each open mic, where you'll have a chance to perform your latest original tune!"


Currently working out of Calgary, AB., Carlos has been using his plethora of experience to successfully work with a wide range of people - from clients and talent to promoters and other booking agents.


Carlos is one of the super cool people that is the glue that helps bind the entertainment industry together by continually connecting artists and bands with the people who want to hire them, and by connecting venues with artists and bands who will to put on one hell of a show!


Carlos a rock star at finding and securing the best talent for events and getting the best deals for the clients (the venue), and the artists and bands.


Becoming a leading figure in the Calgary (and Alberta!) live music scene, I'm excited for you to get to know more about Carlos Lopez!


Get to know more about Carlos Lopez here:


Sarah Scott (SS): Carlos! Welcome to Studio B! You're the Former Entertainment Manager at Whiskey Rose Saloon, a polaroid inspired neon country aesthetic bar and live music venue featuring a plethora of musical genres. Now, you are still doing talent booking, which is AWESOME! From the sounds of it, you've also worked as a resident DJ, and as a radio stations Promotions Coordination before you got to where you are today. Since this is your first time on IFF, tell us about your music journey and how you got to where you are today!


Carlos Lopez (CL): Well, I fell in love with music at a young age. My dad loves music - so that passed on to me. He introduced me to numerous music genres. I started “DJing” hall parties for our church group as a teen, and then moved onto nightclubs.


As I got older, I really fell in love with Country music. I ended up working at Knoxville’s Tavern in Edmonton, and eventually Calgary and got to open for some amazing artists along the way like: Dallas Smith, High Valley, Dean Brody, Granger Smith, and The Dead South. After sometime, I thought man this business is great! I went to school for Radio and Television at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and worked for Bell Media Edmonton for numerous years and learned a lot about the Radio part of things.


Country music was still something that was in my heart, so I made the decision to leave Edmonton and move to Calgary to pursue opportunities related to Country music. I worked as DJ/Manager at Knoxville’s and Greta Bar which eventually led me to Managing the Entertainment Program at Whiskey Rose Saloon.


This past year, I really where hit my stride. I worked closely with many local Alberta bands and fully managed my first stampede with programming that had me dealing with artists and agencies across the country. It was amazing and rewarding. All the work at Whiskey Rose took the venue to its first nomination as, “Venue of the Year,” for the CMAB Awards (Country Music Alberta).


As of very recent I’m no longer with Whiskey Rose so looking at my next adventure in this industry.


SS: With the other parts of the entertainment industry you have worked in previously, how did you adapt your skills to fit this position?


CL: Well, you know working in radio, I was exposed to so many events, clients, and artists, that you learn along the way on how to interact with different people. You learn when business is business and when fun is fun. Learning how to be professional with different people and situations is definitely a vital skill in this industry.


I think one of the biggest skills I learned was how to communicate with venues when it came to booking myself as an act, and learning along the way how to protect myself as there are some good and some not so good venues to work with. That really helped me develop a program where bands felt respected and safe.


SS: As and Entertainment Manager/Talent Booker, you have to provide effective negotiation with artists and bands regarding their compensation (pay), contracts, possible accommodations.... etc., for their gig. For an artist who may not have had these types of discussions yet, or for someone who is still unsure how to ask for proper compensation, what can an artist expect in these conversations/negotiations? Also, how can an artist negotiate their compensation successfully?


CL: This is such a great topic to discuss! I mentioned before I’ve been on both ends, so I know how scary it can be to put yourself out there. The fear of rejection is awful when you’re starting off.


So being Prepared, Professional and having Proper Communication.


Be Prepared:

Know the Venue. Call it the right name. Trust me it’s a thing. Come with a price in your head for a specific time frame. Most venues will try and get the most out of you, so coming with some numbers in mind will help speed up the process. Social media is huge now. Lots of venues would like to see a good following and interactions. Have something recorded for us to listen to as well, as what your availability is. It’s all about how you market yourself. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s not going to work for you - because sometimes it doesn’t.


Be Professional:

Don’t be pushy respect the venue. Come at a time when you know it won’t be busy, and If you approach during a show make it quick “Hi my name is ___. I would be interested in playing here. What is the best way to send you a message to discuss?” I guaranteed I will give you my email and remember.


If you’re reaching out by message or email having a proper EPK (Electronic Press Kit) with links to your music/socials is a good way to start. It’s my one stop where I can find out everything about you. If you’ve played before at another venue, mention it and how it went and if it’s your first time IT’S OK TO SAY SO! We all start somewhere. I had a local artist send me an Instagram message, which led to her playing an acoustic set during CCMA week and then her first full band show!


Proper Communication:

The previous points had all but one thing in common and that is communication. Being respectful and confident about who you are goes a long way. Be humble - if you’re new just say so. If they haven’t heard about you, don’t be cocky and say, “you haven’t heard about me?” It’s not a good impression. Being able to communicate who you are via different channels and how you portray yourself goes along way.


If you put all these together, you can guarantee that you will get what you ask for or close to it. If you’re in the Calgary area, I will be going into more detail about this at the Calgary Songsmiths on February 21 at Gravity Café!


SS: Describe how you keep informed of industry trends and stay up to date with local talent. Share an experience in which this helped you in your work. CL: Social media makes things so much easier now a days! Following the right people, venues, organizations. Take the time to go to events and support. Make those connections. Lots of artists are very interactive and once you engage with them, that’s a door to many things and opportunities to be in touch with. Joining organizations like Alberta Music is a great tool to, one support the music industry and (two) be in touch with events and such.


So, one cool experience I had was while working at Knoxvilles. I was at a Project Wild event and met up with one of the contestants. She left me a CD for me to listen to, then years went by and I found the CD one day and shot her a friendly message on Instagram and was like, “hey look what I found!” And we had a brief chat - fast forward to last year when I was looking at talent to bring in to the venue, I thought of her and reached out and sure enough a few weeks later she was on stage, with a band playing to the room!


SS: For someone reading who is interested in a position like yours - as a talent booker or entertainment manager, what are some of the most important qualities they should have? CL: This job can be so much fun but also so much work. Having patience is a big one. There is a lot of pressure from ownership about having quality entertainment that draws people in. In the end, it is a business you can’t forget about paying bills. Also, there’s different personalities that you deal with - some are easy some are difficult, and there are things that are above your control that happen. So, being patient and having a cool head are must have qualities for this position.


Being organized and having a plan are so, so important. You’re not only putting on a show you’re also providing a source of income for someone, so making sure everything is running properly from start to finish is very important. The artist really appreciates when everything goes smoothly and so will you. Once you have a system in place it makes everything so much easier when something does go wrong. Be calm and confident and you’ll execute much better.


Lastly, be honest and humble about what you do. Show your love for your job, admit mistakes or misunderstanding, 99% of the time you don’t talk to artists or managers face to face until the day of the show sometimes things are misunderstood.


These artist love what they do, and if you love you what you do - it will show as well.


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Learn more about booking with Carlos Lopez at Calgary Songsmiths, Booking 101: The do’s and don’ts of live venue booking on Tuesday, Feb. 21st, at Gravity Café at 7:00PM (MST) (909 10 St SE, Calgary)




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