Benefits of Hiring a Booking Agent

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The decision to hire a booking agent depends on where you are in your music career and what you hope to achieve by working with an agent.

Benefits to Having an Agent Book Your Tour

  • Booking tours are time-consuming and involve juggling dates and other details. Having someone do the job can free you up to work on your music.
  • Agents have contacts at venues and with promoters that you may not have and can get you to show you wouldn't have access to on your own. Promoters like working with agents that they know and if a booking agent has existing relationships with venues, they'll book more shows, and perhaps better ones as well.
  • Agents may have familiarity with out of town venues that you don't have and can make wise selections that are appropriate for your audience.
  • Existing relationships with venues and promoters may help agents land you a better deal for shows that you could have secured on your own. Since they get a cut of your earnings, it is in their interest to get you the best deal!

Live shows are critical to building a fan base and having an agent on board who can give you a helping hand up to bigger shows, better venues and opening slots for bigger acts can be instrumental in building your career. That said, agents should only come into the picture when you're ready to tour. If you're currently playing shows in your own town, you don't need to pay an agent to secure those opportunities. Wait until you've established a following on your own and then want to expand to the next level.

Ensure you're getting value for money with an agent who can bring something extra to the table for you—better shows, bigger deals, opening slots on high-profile gigs. An agent takes a standard fee of 10%, so if you’re only playing locally, it may not be financially worthwhile until you expand your gigs.

Tips to Attract a Booking Agent

Michael Brandvold, who's managed online marketing for Rod Stewart, Madonna and Britney Spears, recommends that you just keep playing and grow your fan base, and an agent will find you! Book your band until you are selling out shows on a regular basis. What does that mean in terms of the bottom line? Strive to regularly sell out shows of 100 to 150 people at about $10 per ticket in your home market—your local city plus two or three nearby towns. That's the kind of income that will attract a booking agent. Anything less than $800 or more per show and it's not worth an agent's time as the commission will be too low.

If you're not selling that many tickets yet, keep in mind that booking agents aren't just in it for the money. They're music fans too and you can begin to build a career that will interest an agent in developing a relationship. Brandvold suggests focusing on building your mailing list to 1000+ Facebook and Twitter fans; finessing the details of your live show and developing a solid set; creating a unified brand; fine-tuning your website and blogging about your shows.