Booking agents

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by cassanova, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Is it more feesable to go with a booking agent or to just go it alone and get the gigs yourself?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    The thing you're looking for with a booking agent is MORE. More contacts, more leads, more opportunities etc. A booking agent should be able to get you into venues that you can't crack, if s/he can promise them a group that they also represent that the venue has been looking for. They should be able to get you into venues that you can't crack, becuase the club HASN'T heard of you but HAS heard of and had a good working relationship with the agent. If they're REALLY good, they'll have contacts that will get you out of LOCAL and into REGIONAL. Or REGIONAL into NATIONAL. etc etc.

    What you don't want is an agent that doesn't have contacts, that doesn't represent at least a few other acts (some of which are in your musical area of interest), and can't get you into any clubs that you haven't been able to get in on your own.
    Check references, if s/he claims s/he can get you into club X, call up club X and see who they booked that this agent represents, did they deal with the agent rather than the band, stuff like that.
  3. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    In my neck of the woods, there are venues that only work with agents and these cannot be cracked without one. Fortunately, there are also places to play where you can easily represent yourself. My current band has not used an agent, but we're thinking of switching to one because of all the work it can take to constantly book gigs and we've limited ourselves because of it (we're lazy, and haven't strayed too far from home base). With an agent, we expect to play in places that we're not familiar with as they're farther out and we also may face less pressure to provide our own crowd.
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    It's a two way street.

    As Blackholes mentioned, there are many clubs that will only deal with booking agents. You can bet that these are usually the higher paying clubs. If a booking agent has a good reputation, then you can ride that coattail into some pretty nice gigs. Agents are also good if you don't have a "business mentality" and dislike negotiations. Another cool thing about agents is you can wind up with some nice last minute gigs. For example, one of their other bands may have to cancel a show for some reason, so you get the gig in their place.

    On the other hand, many clubs WON'T deal with a booking agent. There are few reasons for that. First is the obvious reason; clubs think "Why the hell should I pay this band this amount of money because their agent is contacting me? I could just as easily to a band member and get them for 10% (or whatever cut the agent takes) less." The second reason is because, often times, agencies will pressure clubs to hire their unknown bands even though the clubs really don't want to. (but the cave into the pressure because they want the agent's high drawing acts) There's also a ton of crooks and cobblers out there. The established agents will have their reputation out for public display; talk to your fellow musicians and club owners before deciding to go with an agent. Personally, if I were to sign with an agency, I would make sure that I stilled retained the right to book my own shows. That way, I can still book if it turns out the agency sucks, and I can also still keep booking the small and medium sized clubs.
  5. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Agents can also be useful for augmenting your bookings.

    I am currently working with an agent that gets us "commercial" work like summer park shows, weddings, arts festivals, colleges, etc. which pay a lot better than club work. We still book club gigs ourselves because our agent doesn't deal in that market.
  7. uglycicles

    uglycicles Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Southwest Chicago
    We try to stay away from an agent as much as possible. First of all, and most obvious of all, they take a cut. :rolleyes:

    If there's an absolute "we gotta play this joint" place that will only go through an agent, we'll consider, but in a big town you usually have options to go elsewhere. Just have to search them out.

    Even the scummy agents can make good or bad press for you depending on how you get along with them...I've seen groups that have essentially been blackballed because they screwed over one or two of the bigger booking agents in town.
  8. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I want to thank everyone for the advice they've given me. Its all going to come in quite handy in the near future.

    I especially wanna thank Ed Fukwad ;) and Jive for really nailing on the head specific questions to ask a potential agent. There are several questions and things Id never have thought to ask one.

    I would like to tap into the coorporate market, festivals, and the more upscale clubs not only in my county but the surrounding ones as well, (Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough) & few as far off as Orlando. (2 hours away) So the chances are very good that Im going to go this route because Im piecing together a predominantly classic style R&B/Dance band. Most of the clubs here are just have metal/rock/classic rock being played in them, or karioke(sp)