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Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Schwinn, Jul 17, 2003.

  1. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    In my band, we all have day jobs and other responsibilities so getting gigs has been slow lately. Also it doesn't help that we are a new (unknown) band and play mostly orignials. (I'm trying to get the guys into doing more covers :rolleyes:.) I'm making band contacts all the time and I'm going to work on getting us college gigs for the fall (U of Maryland).

    A lot of the bands I meet go through booking agencies - for at least a while. I've been referred to James Turner Productions, Star Entertainment, etc., and I saw Gigmasters.com on the web. My question is: Do you have any advice about which agency might better, things to look out for, things to ask, other advice... Any experience you could share about these kinds of organizations would be appreciated - I don't have any experience doing this kind of thing yet. Thanks! :bassist:
  2. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    What does a sperm and a booking agent have in common? 1 in a million will actually be a human being.

    Seriously, there's good and bad as in all business. Make sure that you know what you are getting into. Different agents have different clientele and agendas, therefore their interest and amount of effort towards your band will vary.
    Be wary of contracts and other written agreements. Here's a common stipulation: A booking agent gets you gig at a club. The club stops using that agent, and instead wants to book you directly. Even though the agent is out of the picture, you may still have to give the guy his 15% whether he/she booked that gig for you or not.

    Being from the DC area, I am familiar with a couple of the agencies you mentioned. We have worked with James Turner Productions. He (Rob C.) doesn't work that hard for us, but he gets us a gig here and there. The drummer does more work and gets more bookings than Rob does. James Turner Prod. gets bad mouthed alot by local musicians and some of the clubs that they book for.
    The following is hearsay so I could be wrong. Turner also got involved in a 10 year deal with Kix (a decent 80's metal band). When major label interest was coming their way, he wouldn't let them out of their contract. By the time their contract was over, the hair metal thing was over too.

    We've had some good bookings from Party DC. You haven't mentioned them, but they are an OK agency from what I heard and have experienced. They can get you into some decent clubs in the DC/NVA area. I don't know if they do bookings in your neck of the woods.

    Anyway, I hope this helps.
  3. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Okay, somebody slap me if this specific issue has been discussed recently, but...

    We have a booking agency locally that everyone seems to have something bad to say about. I know my classic rock cover band has taken a bit of screwing from them (ponying up commissions on gigs they didn't book, because they claim the venue as their booking turf, etc.). Anyway, one thing they do that got another local band rather riled up -- they have the band sign a contract that basically says that if any band member plays at one of "their" venues, even if they split to another band and book the gig on their own, the agency gets full booking commission, for a period of a year or two after the last gig booked by the agency. I have not signed any such paperwork with my classic rock band, but I'm thinking of trying to throw together another covers project -- one that would need to get some good gigs quick in order to keep the interest of the players I want to recruit -- ergo, a booking agent makes sense... maybe.

    Just wondering if this is pretty common practice or not...? Thanks for any insight.

  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    From what you've said, they sound like parasites... alongside the distinctly shady sounding practises described, have you got any evidence that they actually do the business of handing you bookings that you otherwise wouldn't get?

    Unless it looks very likely that what you'll gain in terms of worthwhile gigs will more than make up for the inconveniences, I'd leave this particular crew well around - they sound more like the mafia than people who are trying to keep the local music scene alive and vibrant!

  5. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, that's a fairly apt description, Wulf. For my classic rock band, they ceased to be an asset long ago and now only serve as a gatekeeper we have to suck up to (and pay) to play at our favorite venue. They don't really want to promote/book classic rock, however, and I can't say I blame them for that. For bands with a bit hipper repetoire (like I'm trying to assemble), they can open some doors -- or at the least, are the only route in to a few of the area's better clubs.

    I think I'm likely to approach it like this, if this project ever gets off the ground: Let them book gigs for us for their usual commission, but decline to sign any agreements such as I described in my original post -- and if they don't want to do business that way, then just write them off and move on to plan 'B' -- whatever that turns out to be. I guess I'm willing to deal with them despite their reputation, simply because this area seems to have something of a tradition of crooked booking agents. There's a 'nice guy' in town who does bookings, but he is pretty ineffectual from what I've seen and heard from others...

  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How about making 'chat with the nice guy' your number one strategy. If he turns out to be as useless as rumour suggests, then you'll still need a plan C... and it's always possible that the rumour mill is being fueled by his competitors (cos if they're as greedy as you suggest, they're unlikely to have too many qualms about putting him down).

    Of course, it does depend how much direct experience you've had with him as to whether this would fly but it might be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt (while checking the fine print of anything he gives you to sign and agreeing a realistic measure of whether he's doing the business for you or not).


  7. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I only know how it's done on the Eastern seaboard, but the contract regarding band members and comissions still needing to get paid seems pretty extreme. OTOH, it may simply be a way of reminding people that there are rooms that are this agent's turf, and everybody has to pay the piper.

    I've resigned myself to the fact that you have to play ball with these guys, within reason, to get out there and working regularly. Those who cry "unfair" and "down with the system" will find themselves running scales in front of the TV on weekend nights while others willing to bend a little are gigging. I choose the latter, myself.

    Most sucessful working groups do booking by themselves and with an agent as well.
  8. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Wulf - I know first hand and from talking to others that the 'nice guy' has good intentions but little else to offer, so that much is more than rumor... thanks for that thought, though.

    Pad... that pretty much affirms my take on the whole thing - thanks.
  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Being 'nice' isn't a virtue on it's own - it's the guy who does a good job with honesty and integrity who deserves kudos.

    Hope you get some gigs for your new project - agents or not!

  10. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    I've done this for the better part of 10 years,never seen that.
    If they actually have that much of a lock on the clubs,and you can't book yourself,then you play ball if you want to work(if you have the product)
    Otherwise,I say:sue me,see ya in small claims court next millenium.
    That's why I think "contracts" for the most part on the cover scene are a joke.
    So barowner does'nt pay you the 5 bills agreed upon,stiffs you...what'ya gonna do?sue him?retain legal counsel,pay costs up front$$$in the hopes of recovering?:D ;) :D ;)
    This is acash and handshake buisness for the most part,until you're a tribute band that consistently pulls in well over a grand a night on a regular basis.
  11. SMASH

    SMASH Guest

    Jan 18, 2000
    Great thread. Thanks "Secret Donkey".

    I have changed the title slightly in hopes it'll evolve into a thread generally about the specifics of Booking Agent Deals.

    For the sake of future SEARCHers, I'll add these links to threads in this forum.

    Booking Agent Trouble - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=65067

    Managing And Booking Your Own Band - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=88589

    What's It Pay ? - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=88994

    Getting Paid - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=65702
  12. So would it be normal/acceptable to have a couple or even several different agents, each in their own reigon? Or would that depend on contracts and whatnot?
  13. Colonel_Claypoo

    Colonel_Claypoo Steve Harris nut

    Oct 24, 2007
    hey there,

    i'm new to this booking and managing stuff.
    so, i'm in contact with a booking agency and they sent me a contract to have a look at.
    would anybody here who understands something about this matter contact me so that i can have him look at it and tell me very briefly if it's a good deal?

    i'd really appreciate it because it's written in some weird english and i'm no native speaker:meh:


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