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« What's your songwriting process? | Main | What artists should know about thesixtyone »
Wednesday
Jun032009

How Do I Get Booking Agents To Take My Band Seriously?

The answer to this question is simple, straightforward, but not necessarily the easiest to stomach. So here goes…..

Drum roll…..The best way to get booking agents to take you seriously is to ignore them, not worry about them at all and wait for them to eventually approach you.

Ignore them?

Not worry about them?

Wait till they approach you?

Is This Guy For Real?

Think about it for a moment. In the most simplistic sense booking agents see you and your band as a commodity that has a certain price tag associated with it. For example, let’s say right now your band might only be worth $100 for a thirty minute slot on a Saturday night. When you’re able to demand $1,000 a show and can sell out a 250 capacity room without much effort, you’ll be sure to grab the attention of a booking agent – and they’ll take you very seriously.

Guaranteed!

By then, the issue of will they take you seriously will no longer apply because your value as a band to them is far greater and they will take you seriously automatically as they now see possible financial reward from investing their time into your commodity, which is your band.

Granted, this description sounds dry and un-arty, yet the reality is that this is what really happens and to really understand the answer to this question, it’s important to understand the mechanics of the situation. No agent will every speak like that or make you believe that’s the case, however at the back of their minds when they know they’ve got bills to pay and they’re under pressure by their superiors to bring in the commissions, what else would be at the core of their thought process?

A booking agent sits on the phone all day long, cutting deals, booking rooms, organizing tour schedules, gossiping and a whole lot more. To get one of them to take you seriously, you must be able to prove worth. In doing this, by default you are also getting them to spend less time booking their other bands and tasks which could potentially bring in the payola.

Not an easy task.

However when you can understand what motivates them and what will get them excited, you’ll certainly have a better chance at getting them to take you seriously.

Remember that it is their job to be finding the next great talents of the world and if they haven’t come knocking at your door yet, there is probably a good reason why.

This does not mean to say that you should throw in the towel and give up either. Rather it means that more work and effort needs to go into your career before you reach that next step of getting a professional to do all the bookings and talking for you.

As a result, the whole concept of dealing with booking agents at the beginning of a bands music career is generally very misunderstood. By realizing the above, you’ll slowly start to realize booking your own shows until you can prove your value and pulling power might be the best way to go and ultimately you’ll be able to get agents to take you seriously.

In my humble little opinion this is really the only way to get an agent to take you seriously.

The Upside To This Approach?

This might not be the answer you wish to hear and nine out of ten bands I’ve ever spoken to always say the same thing, “We just want to focus on our music,” but look at the flip side, imagine how much more knowledge and understanding you’ll gain by starting out yourself, not to mention the network you will also carve out as a result!

The more hands on experience you can endure at the beginning of your career, the better shape you’ll be in when agents come knocking at your door and ultimately take you very seriously.

So there you have it. Comment below with your views on this matter

Daniel Kohn is a world renouned writer and speaker on the Music Industry. By age 13 he was touring with Sonic Youth, At 15 his band signed a record deal with the Beastie Boys record label and by 16 they were touring around the world with acts like Foo Fighters, Beck and many more. Check out his blog to discover more tips and industry insights on how your band can sell more, make more and play more music - http://www.inside-the-music-biz.com/blog

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (10)

Couldn't agree more. When I started off the band about 8 years ago, we'd feel great even if we got a slot at the college open mic type thing. Now they could beg us for all the money in the world and we'd never play there again, the sound engineering there was diabolical. There are some venues our band will just NOT play. Why can we have that sort of chosy attitude now, simple..for years we've been going strong and every gig we do has an associated capital that we carry around with us. We can get human traffic to a bar or venue. Human traffic in the days of recession is invaluable. Even a crowd of 10 ppl + 4 ppl from the band represents ticket entry money and a fair amount of beer money.

Look, here is the problem,,,, and I know. Do you realize how many bands are out there that are good? Some of them even great, and unknown. Its marketing my friends. You need to have a good web presence just like every other business trying to make it. That means good search engine listings and visibility. You also have to absolutely have DVD/s and good brochures and business cards. Send them out in droves. Most will be ignored but if you hit the agent or booking person at the right moment then your job is done and you are in. Do gigs for free for awhile that have high traffic volume. AND, post and post and post about your band or gig. Send me an email and I will try to help you.

June 4 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Riedl

This is dead on. It's about your live show and ability to deliver not only the music, but the moments that connect with the audience. Marketing is only part of it. There are many good bands out there that just aren't any good at marketing and it hurts them, but most of the time, they are boring to watch and listen to live. If you don't have a live connection, you won't have traction, you won't grow. You really need to do it yourself because nobody is going to speak for you, like you. This post is dead on accurate.

If your D.i.Y it also helps to get your box office numbers listed on Pollstar, even if your playing the local corner pub every month. Bookers, labels and other venues will take note if they see real numbers listed from a reputable source. You can even ask those venues to vouch for your draw and use them as a reference for others, just like any other business.

Side note: And Bands don't forget to have mailing list/email sign up sheets at all your shows! I can't tell you how many bands forget that this is the best way to keep in touch with the fans you meet on the road!
Hope that helps a bit.

This is great advice! Too many bands want to jump ahead and have the work done for them. It really pays to know how to do this stuff yourself. As a talent buyer I have so many bands say, "if you would just put me on with a band that draws we'll be huge". That's not the way it works my friends! Its the other way around. Get a huge local draw, and then get on the big touring bands gigs. In fact, you should play with as many out of town bands as possible. Many of them are at the touring level because they can draw a great crowd in their local market, and are ready to move on to spreading their music to new markets. Try to work a show swap with them. You get them a good crowd in your hometown, and they do the same for you in theirs. Its like playing Risk. Get a draw in as many new markets as you can and you win. Your asking "what do we win?". Well, you win the next level of your small business. Maybe today a booking agent that will route your bands van and trailer to a new market. Tomorrow a tour bus with a stage crew and minibar! If you stick with things long enough, and don't give up, you will become good at many aspects of music business.

-Logan-

This is a great site and great info for sure. It seems to me that if anyone wants to be successful in music industry, he/she must know the business aspect of it. So what do we do for it? Get an MBA? Absolutely not! There are ways to know what works in the industry by following the trend. Unfortunately, there are too many scam artists out there and the internet makes it easier to get hold of one of these as so called "Booking Agent or management company" who has a huge price tag. It all boils down to doing our own research before getting into something. There are few things every artist should do research/consider:
1. Social networking ( which is free)
2. SEO ( not free)
3. Blogging or hire a blogger
4. Youtube ( if possible but lot of more work on top of composing and producing music)
5. Consider spending a lots of money before getting any where ( this is fact)

I hope this helps. If anyone has any legit sources about cost effective PR marketer, Booking agent, management companies, please let me know as well as other hard working artists out there.

Regards,

DJ Digital Girl
www.myspace.com/djDigitalGurl

" Only you can help yourself, you win when you are in control"

December 1 | Unregistered CommenterDJ Digital Girl

DJ Digital Girl,

a few months ago I wrote a post about a somewhat new business idea/plan both here and on my blog....I think it may be of interest to you since you were asking about cost effective PR marketers, booking agents, mgmt, etc. Maybe it will spark some ideas in your head.

I encourage that you read the comments on the post too, they are equally if not more interesting and helpful.

The Reverse Record Label

Who knows, maybe one day I'll make it a reality!

_chris

December 1 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

Excellent perspective & information. DIY band publicity to help attract a booking agent can also help clarify the band identity, build band member relationships, & work out issues early on in the bands career. Good advice. Thanks.

September 17 | Unregistered CommenterSylvester Jones

Play more shows!

Use this android app to book shows all over the country:"BookMyBand"

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cnc.org.bookmyband.free

March 22 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Great article, I have been in the music business for over ten years, I wrote a similar article here!

Get a booking agent

February 28 | Unregistered CommenterMark Lafay

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