Booking agents work closely with artists, managers, tour managers, promoters and labels to ensure an artist plays to the right audience and progresses on the live scene.
- Sourcing live performances for an artist
- Negotiating pay between promoters and artists
- Working alongside artist/manager/team to devise performance and touring strategies
When in the early stages of development, it is likely that an artist or manager will fulfill these roles as most small-scale gigs can be organised by contacting promoters directly.
Booking agents have become increasingly important members of the 'core team' in recent years and the trend for agents to get involved before recording and publishing deals are in place means that a good agent and a good strategy can be key to attracting further industy interest. Booking agents are much better equipped than a band or manager to secure high profile dates, tours and festival slots, and agents can push for larger performance fees. However, agents are not miracle workers and an artist has to be 'worth the tickets'.
However, attracting an interest from an agent is no mean feat. Obviously in the live industry, building a buzz within your region and in other key towns can attract interest. But that's not always enough to secure their services. An agent is much likely to want to work with artists with a strong radio, press and online buzz. Naturally, artists with a good team (be that managers, pluggers or PR) and strategy are more likely to appeal to agents.
Once these elements are in place, in theory booking agents will be coming to you as they rely on tips from reliable sources. Should you wish to be proactive, contacts are readily available through all the main agency websites, but make sure you're contacting agents who work with similar artists. It's important to strike a balance between agents with a strong track record and those who can dedicate enough time and effort to new artists. And talk to a number of artists, arrange meetings and make sure they fit your vision.
A standard agent's fee is 10-15% of gross income from live appearances. It is then normal for ALL the artist's live commitments to be booked by the agent. The length of term of an agency agreement is relatively short and it is easier for either artist to terminate the working relationship.
Agents' Association (GB)
The Agency Group
Free Trade Agency
Select Booking Agency
Arts and Industry