Dave Cool is the Blogger-In-Residence at musician website and marketing platform Bandzoogle.
One of the most common questions I was asked by artists during my time as a venue booker was how they could find a booking agent. I inevitably answered that they should just keep playing gigs, grow their fan base, and an agent would find them. But is the answer really that simple? In a word, yes. By far the best way to get a professional booking agent is for bands to book themselves until the point where they are selling out shows on a regular basis on their own.
What does this mean exactly? To put it in numbers, regularly sell-out shows of 100-150 people at around $10 per ticket in your home market. What’s your home market? Your home city, plus maybe 2-3 other nearby cities/towns. If you can sell 100-150 tickets at $10 each in a few cities on a regular basis (once every few months), then you’ll be generating the kind of income that would be interesting to a booking agent, and there’s a good chance they’ll come find you at that point. Easy, right?
OK, all kidding aside, I know how hard it can be to get to that point. And I know what you’re thinking: is it really all about the money? Yes and no. Agents are music fans too, however, they aren’t going to work for free. Think about it from their perspective: if you’re not even making $200 per show, why would they work for a % of that revenue? A professional agent makes their living from the commissions of a band’s show revenues, usually around 15%. So if your live show revenue isn’t in the $800+ range, it’s going to be very hard to convince a professional booking agent to get on board with your career.
So what if you’re not selling that many tickets just yet? What can you do to help build your career up to the point where an agent might be interested in working with you? Here are some key areas to focus on: