The Importance of a Booking Agent for Musicians: What They Do and How to Get One
Last updated: 14 Nov 2023
Whether you’re a musician that’s just dipping their toe into the music industry or one that’s got quite a few gigs under their belt, you might wonder why everyone seems to be talking about getting a booking agent. You might not be entirely sure what they do or what they can bring to the table, but “contact my booker” has a nice ring to it. But what does a booking agent do exactly?
The Basics: What does a booking agent do?
Booking agents serve as the middle person between the artist and the promoter or venue owner. If you are receiving a lot of booking requests because your act is becoming popular, then an agent can be very useful in filtering through these requests. Moreover, bookers are professional negotiators who can answer questions such as:
How much should I charge?
Is the promoter ready to respect the tech rider?
What else should I add to my rider?
Who covers the cost of getting me to the event?
Do I need accommodation and who’s paying for it?
Is this promoter legit?
At the most basic level, a professional booking agent locks in the fee and booking contract. They also negotiate the best conditions for your act. Having a booker allows you to rest assured that there won’t be any unprofessional and unpleasant surprises when you arrive at the venue (for the most part, anyway!).
A booker also liaises with the rest of your team to make sure that gigs and festivals are booked well in advance in the run-up to an album release. Additionally, they also help with issues such as visas, payments, deposits, schedules etc.
How can I get a booking agent?
As with everything else in the music industry, there are good agents and bad agents. Bad agents can be detrimental to your career, as they will leave you sitting around on their roster without really assisting you in reaching your full potential. In simple terms – they’re just in it for the money. Therefore, please be sure to do your research before signing with any booking agency or freelance booker.
Having said that – what makes a “good booker”? Good booking agents are invested in your career and have built personal connections with key venues, other bookers and festival bookers that will result in quality, game-changing gigs.
Getting a good booker is difficult. In the case of bigger agencies, the agents usually approach the artists when the artists themselves have worked their way up the ladder and have already done the leg work to build a fanbase and book their own shows. Remember – agents need to know that you’re able to bring your own crowd and that you’re already music industry savvy. The large majority of booking agents work off commissions (usually 10%-20%), meaning that you already have to be at a certain level before it’s even worth it for them to add you to their roster.
So, should you get an agent? Look at it this way – if you’ve got so many offers that you simply can’t handle every aspect of the booking process, then you should probably start prepping your sales pitch and scouring the internet for reputable agents. Conversely, if you’re still struggling to attract an audience, then you should probably work on that first before even attempting to contact a booking agent.