Talent is the focus of a whole range of television reality shows, such as "America's Got Talent," "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance." Take advantage of that visibility and interest when you announce auditions for your own talent show. While you may not be able to offer a performance contract to the winner, you can still entice talented individuals to audition.
A heartfelt thank you may be enough for most of the talent, but great prizes encourage people to audition. You don't have to spend major money on the prizes if you recruit products and services from local businesses. For example, a hotel may donate a luxury weekend for two. A restaurant could give a dinner for two. A day spa gives a day of beauty, a golf course a round of golf for four. Have prizes for not only the winner, runner-up and second runner-up but also for best in category such as best singer, best magician, best dancer. Age is another category for prizes, best performer under 12, best performer between 13 to 18 and best senior talent.
Ask people you know who like to sing, dance or perform to audition for your talent show. Most will be flattered you inquired if they were interested. Spread the word to all your acquaintances, business associations, friends and family to refer talented people they know. Mention in your inquiry to their referrals that "(the person making the referral) said you have a lovely voice. Would you consider auditioning?"
A draw to get talented people who have hopes of turning professional is to recruit talent agencies to attend the show. Most are located on the East and West Coasts, but nearly every city has an agency of some sort. For example, Phoenix has five agencies representing models, bands, singers, actors and other talent. Even one talent agency attending the show can be a draw for people to audition.
Publicity and Promotion
If people don't know about the talent show they can't audition. Send out press releases to the local news media, both on and offline. Send the first release should as soon as the date, time and place of the performance have been confirmed. Send the second when auditions are announced. Include in that release some of the types of acts that were popular in the previous show or that you're especially looking for. About a week before the last audition send out another release. Include photos with all the releases. Invite the media to attend the talent show. And send out a release after the show describing how well it went and how much money was raised, if the point of the show was to raise money for a charity or other worthy cause. Set up social media accounts and post photos to the sites. Post tweets and updates as the auditions progress. Do the same thing during the talent show, with photos.
Several Audition Times
Schedule audition times over several weeks on different days and times of the day. That way, someone who has a conflict with one time can schedule another and still audition. Give each judge at the auditions score sheets and grade the performers immediately after their tryout.