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Culture, Music & Performing Arts careers

Talent Discovery & Development

Getting into talent discovery and development…

If spotting potential and coaching the next superstar interests you, then you are on the right page. A career in talent discovery and development is a bit like being Simon Cowell, except without the millions in the bank. You probably won’t be living in Hollywood, either, but it really does offer an interesting career path and you will literally be able to make or break other people’s careers.

Talent scouts come from a variety of backgrounds. Some may have been performers themselves, while others may have worked as part of a human resources team. Basically, it will be advantageous if you have experience of working within the performing arts industry, or you have a background in discovering the best and the brightest.

What is talent discovery and development?

When you think about talent discovery and development, you might imagine talent agents getting out and about, hunting for new talent, following up tip-offs and nurturing the talent that has already been identified.

This will certainly be a large part of your role, but it’s also likely that you will find yourself having to negotiate with parents, schools and – most importantly – individuals in order to convince them to join your agency. Furthermore, you will frequently be liaising with casting agencies and production companies to get the best rates for your clients.

Working with a talent agency…

Most agencies make their money by signing the best talent to their agency, acting as their representative, helping them to develop their career and then finding them work in return for a cut of the fee that they are paid. If you are able to pick out a superstar, then the rewards can be lucrative, but these opportunities are not commonplace.

It’s likely that you will be working for an agency rather than operating independently. Smaller agencies are great if you are more interested in getting out there and attending performances rather than chasing money. If you really want to make it to the top though, you will need to either get involved with an up-and-coming superstar or work your way up through one of the larger talent scouting agencies.

What is the role of a talent scout?

The primary aim of a talent scout is to actually find the talent. Good talent scouts will develop a large network of people within the industry who will notify them of upcoming talent, such as drama teachers or local youth leaders.

As a talent scout, you are also likely to find yourself visiting and re-visiting specific locations, shows, festival and events to look for acts with the most promise. These careers can be lonely at times though, as you will often be going to performances and gigs alone.

Once the talent has been spotted, it is the talent scout’s job to watch their performances and assess their potential. You will need to be able to see past factors that may be suppressing an individual’s talent, such as nerves, poor co-performers or the environment that they are performing in.

At this stage, talent scouts may begin a relationship with the performer’s family and explain who they are and who they work for. Once a talent scout is convinced of an individual’s potential then an approach may be made to sign the performer.

Once this professional relationship is established, the talent scout will help to develop their client’s talent and will attempt to get them as much exposure as possible.

Sometimes, talent scouts may be given the challenge of finding a specific person that meets certain criteria, such as a particular physical appearance, a certain skill or ability. In this case, they must use their network of contacts to try and locate appropriate talent.

Would I be suitable for a career in talent discovery and development?

A major role of talent agencies is to develop the talent of their clients by finding them suitable work. Talent discovery and development is an interesting and stimulating field to break into. However, opportunities are often fairly limited owing to the niche nature of the profession. You can definitely make it though. You just need to be focused, determined and ambitious.

If you want to be the Jay-Z to the next Rita Ora (minus the rumours, of course), then getting a job in talent discovery and talent might make you realise that this career path is the perfect one for you!