As musicians, we all want to focus on creating music and perfecting our craft of performing well when on stage. Instead, quite a lot of time is taken up setting up gigs and tours. This is where a booking agent can take some of the pain away. There are other advantages to having an agent working on your bookings. However, whether or not you take on one depends on where you are in your career.
Can I do without one?
If you’re fine with spending a lot of time making calls to venues and then following up a few times every week, then you don’t need a booking agent. Remember that many of these will be venue programmers or owners who will be hearing about you for the first time. So, you will have to introduce the band, tell them what kind of music you play, where all you’ve performed, and convince them you’re a good band to pay for.
Some of these venues might not work out, some don’t host your kind of music and other leads fizzle out for no discernable reason.
When you’re doing this exercise for another city for which you don’t know the venues and their audiences well, the complexity rises and the success rate falls.
Take that up a notch higher with planning a multi-city tour and the time involved to get it right becomes a real strain.
Can I get one?
Depends on how viable you are as an artist or a band. Consider that the booking agent will take 15% to 20% commission of the gross fee. That means that the payout should be substantial enough, one, for you to still make enough, two, for booking agents to be interested in taking you on.
If you’re not known outside your city or town, it maybe a lot tougher to get a booking agent when planning a tour.
What’s the advantage?
Booking agents maintain relationships with venues by regularly helping them program acts and plan tours for travelling musicians. This makes it easier for them to do what might take you much longer to achieve. Introducing a new band to a venue is easier for an agent who has an existing relationship because her past recommendations have delivered successful gigs.
Your band’s footprint can expand if you find the right booking agent to work with you. This can result in more gigs locally, hassle-free tours and even playing bigger gigs with successful bands that attract larger audiences.
This helps you grow your fan base and widen your reach beyond your town or city.
To do her job well, agent should know the capacities of different venues, the demographic they attract, their ability to pay, the best terms to work with them, and how to leverage relationships to get paid on time. Speak to your peers to check for these abilities in the booking agent you choose to work with.
At your end, to attract the agent who delivers on these parameters, you need to create a commendable brand. This includes playing lots of shows, creating videos of these performances with enough shots of the audience, working towards delivering sold-out shows, building a following online and keeping content flowing on the social media channels. You need to keep raising your performance quotient so that local venues know you as bankable artists. Gradually, you also need to raise your artist fee so that it’s a viable option to work on your gigs and tours.
What have your experiences with booking agents been? Share your insights in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you.