Role of an Agent
If you want to succeed as a live act in the music industry, you will likely need an agent. Agents strive to find great gigs for their clients at good venues and earn a nice commission in the process. Although they are also often involved in commercials, television events, tour sponsorship and other areas, music agents don’t generally have quite the same status or influence as those in the film business. This article contains some useful information on selecting the right agent for you.
Agents should not receive income from any aspect of recording or songwriting (with the possible exception of film music) and they should NEVER ask for this.
In the US, music agents are regulated by the union AFM (American Federation of Musicians), which allow them to charge a maximum of 10% (it can be more in some instances, but agents should agree to this 10% limit)
Some agents will take a lower percentage at around 5% for artists who generate substantial revenues at concerts. This rarely happens for film and TV unless you are a big player in these areas. They may also offer a sliding scale where they drop their percentage as you earn more, which can work out really well for both parties.
It is very important you check what is right for your situation.
Negotiating a contract
The agency will probably ask for 3 or more years, but you should only grant them one year. This way, you can ditch them if things don’t work out, or try to negotiate bringing their commission down if you start to really progress as an artist.
If you do decide to go for more than a year, make sure you have a clause in the contract so you can exit each year if they or you don’t meet certain targets.
Choosing an agent
If you have a manager, you’ll only deal with your agent occasionally, meeting them at your gigs or to discuss setting up a tour. Most of the time, they will talk to your manager. You should feel confident in allowing your manager to find an agent for you, although you should make the final decision.
If you don’t have a manager, you should be very particular about choosing an agent as they will report directly to you. When you pick an agent, ask yourself, how hard will they work on finding great shows and concerts for you?
Are they powerful and well connected, with one or more major clients and happen to be extremely enthusiastic about you and your music?
If you’re a megastar, this should not be a problem, but if not, then it is very unlikely they will have a keen interest in working hard to find those lucrative gigs for you or your band.
Remember it takes more work to establish a new artist compared to one already at or near the top and which one do you think pays more?
Although you can find a reputable agent like this, it is rare and you may find it better to find a young and enthusiastic agent who will work day and night on getting shows and concerts for you. Check their credentials and find out if they come recommended from a trusted source.
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