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Who Books the Music Acts for Letterman, Leno, Fallon and More, and What They’re Looking For

Who Books the Music Acts for Letterman, Leno, Fallon and More, and What They’re Looking For
0 comments, 01/06/2011, by , in Music, TV

Late-night television is as crowded as it has ever been, making for a lively playing field as shows jockey to be first with an act or book them exclusively. That competition for hot up-and-coming acts, especially in rock, has made late-night television an important component in breaking an artist.

The May 28 edition of Billboard features a comprehensive look at how music is booked on late-night talk shows and the role technology is playing to give extra life to performances (for subscribers only). Here is a breakdown of every late-night show that regularly features music, who books the show and what they look for in an act.

“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (NBC, 11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m.)
Music booker: Barbera Libis
Recent hits: The Civil Wars
The approach: “Barbera Libis is incredibly smart about music and very open to hearing an intelligent case about why something would make good television,” says talent manager Ron Shapiro.

“Late Show With David Letterman” (CBS, 11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m.)
Music booker: Sheryl Zilikson
Recent hits: Foo Fighters, Janelle Monae
The approach: “The music is booked way in advance. Sheryl has bands penciled in for July,” talent producer Sheila Rogers says. “Anything that’s on the show is a reflection of Dave so we really try to book it in a way that would be interesting to him.”

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC, midnight-1 a.m.)
Music booker: Scott Igoe
Recent hits: Lady Gaga
The approach: “When we launched the show we made a conscious decision to create a cool environment that [musicians] would want to hang out in,” says co-executive producer Doug DeLuca. “Celebrities like being around great bands and great musicians.”

“Conan” (TBS, 11 p.m.-midnight)
Music booker: Jim Pitt
Recent hits: TV on the Radio, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Animal Collective
The approach: “Breaking bands has become our niche,” Pitt says. When Conan O’Brien made his late night debut in 1993, “It was an artistic decision-and a necessity.”

“Lopez Tonight” (TBS, Midnight-1 a.m.)
Music booker: Alisa Gichon Malo
Recent hits: Prince, Kesha, Mana
The approach: “It all stems from George’s love of music,” Malo says. “George calls it ‘a late night party.'”

“The Mo’Nique Show” (BET, 11 p.m.-midnight)
Music booker: Fernita Wynn
Recent hits: Mindless Behavior, Far East Movement
The approach: “It’s a penthouse party – and we we go across the board with music to keep the party moving,” Wynn says. “As the only late-night show in Atlanta people fly down just to do the show.”

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (NBC, 12:35 a.m.-1:35 a.m.)
Music booker: Jonathan Cohen
Recent hits: Bruce Springsteen, Odd Future, Aretha Franklin, Randy Newman
The approach: “Find the sweet spot that’s not too indie and not too mainstream,” Cohen says. “From the beginning, Jimmy wanted to emphasize variety.”

“Last Call with Carson Daly” (NBC, 1:35 a.m.)
Music booker: Davis Powers
Recent hits: David Guetta, Fitz & The Tantrums, Freddie Gibbs, Charles Bradley
The approach: “Emerging and breaking acts,” Powers says. “Music unifies audiences and that is exactly what they want at that time of night.”

“The Daily Habit” (Fuel TV, 11 p.m.)
Music booker: John Katovsich
Recent hits: Gang Gang Dance, Gogol Bordello, Cake
The approach: “Bands who want to invest in a performance are bands we want to invest in,” adds Katovsich.


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