Booking made Easy
So, you’ve got a great band together, you’ve done a short run of a thousand CD’s, printed some shirts and buttons, and after months of drawing, writing proposals,and auditioning yet another dissatisfied drummer, you realize that you are now proficient with photoshop and a whole bunch of other software and stuff you never wanted to learn. So you hire a manger to deal with all the tedium of the day to day business and get back to practicing and recording while you wait for the show bookings to start rolling in. And you wait, and you wait, and you… start to get the idea…
Perhaps it is time to make that next inevitable step and find a good Agent (also known as a booking agent, talent agent, music agent, etc.). But,
What Is an Agent?
Simply stated, an agent is someone who makes booking your act seem easy. An agent can be anyone, but preferably, your agent is someone. By that I mean, someone who is connected, who knows the venues and their owners, management, staff, practices, preferences and desires of your area and the areas around you. An agent has to know these things to be able to book you in the proper places and times to get the attention you deserve.
An agent will be working with your management and venues to see to it that the needs of the venue and the performers are met. He will deal with contracts, riders, PA systems, trucking, lighting, timing, coordinating press and publicity, promotion, and the list goes on. Given the job description, you will want an agent who is as excited about your music as you (and your manager) are.
Don’t expect this to happen for free, but don’t expect to sign away your lively-hood either. Typically a reputable agent will hit you up for 15-20% of gross. This will exclude merchandise, etc. Many states and some countries have laws governing exactly what an agent can charge you. And don’t forget that this is not up-front-out-of-pocket expense. Your agent doesn’t get paid until you do – although he may be the one to collect the check and do the math, so it may be wise to be present and double check the numbers yourself.
Who is an Agent?
As we discussed in my recent article on management, you may be able to start with a family member or friend who is locally connected, but if he (or she) does the job well, he will either grow and become an even better agent, or you will need to eventually find an agent that can move you into the next circle of venues. There are lots of agents who started small and worked their way up. You probably don’t need to hire the William Morris Agency (one of the biggest and best) right off, but perhaps some day you will.
As you progress into the more professional rings, you will probably want an agent who works with a large “Agency”. An Agency is a company that employs a group of agents all working with each other. Each will handle his own clients, but by working side by side with other agents, they will have access to bigger and better gigs for you. For example, if you want to open for Van Halen, it will be much easier to get that kind of gig if your agent has a relationship with Van Halen’s agent.
Just for you?
No, you will also find that many venues have agents that work for them, handling the booking and arrangements to help reduce the burden on the management of the venue. I was slightly surprised to have such a job laid upon myself a few months ago! Booking acts for a small local venue has helped me to meet some fantastic people and to expand my circle of friends and colleagues more quickly than I could have imagined. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of work! So, if you have decided to work with a friend or other colleague who hasn’t much experience, cut them some slack. It won’t be long before they learn the local ropes and start bringing in some great gigs for you!
One of the best investments I ever made was a book, Yes, a Real Book with a hard cover and a jacket and everything! Remember those? “All You Need To Know About the Music Business” by Don Passman has been invaluable, my edition is about 8 years old, but still spot on for all sorts of reference.
Believe it on not the Wiki article on talent agents is very accurate and helpful.
Here’s a list of a few of the the Talent Agents in Tennessee