Do you have a booking agent?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by JiveJust, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    If so, how is it working out? Is it easier than booking shows on your own? How much percentage do they take etc?

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I don’t but the folks I work with occasionally do.
    I think 15% of gross.
     
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  3. B Money

    B Money Member

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    used to work through a booker, she did get us into a couple of rooms that we wouldn't have otherwise, but in retrospect it wasn't worth it.
    If I remember correctly, the deal was 15% of the gross for dates under $1000, and 10% for gigs over $1000.
    She NEVER got us a booking for anything even close to $1000. It was all the usual bottom-feeder clubs we probably could have gotten anyway, but it was nice to pay someone else to interface with the venue.
     
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  4. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    Thanks for the input!

    I've tried booking agents twice in the past. One was just a kid that was dating the niece of a local legend. He wanted 60% of our net and he drove his mom's 80s Buick. That lasted for two gigs. I was honestly hoping the local legend would take interest in us. He didn't. He couldn't stand the 80s Buick Kid. The next one had much better contacts but she gave me two days notice for my loud rock band (plus bringing a PA) to play an upstairs coffee bar that had just opened. I figured that was a sh!t gig and there would only be more of those to follow. I didn't take the gig and never heard from her again.

    Here in and around Austin things change so much I'm sick of trying to keep track of who is the new booking person at the club that used to be named something else. I was looking through some old notebooks and I saw my old booking contacts list. There would be the name of the club crossed out and renamed a few times. Underneath the club name would be the booking person for the club crossed out and replaced about 6-7 times. That list was for 2-3 years.

    I've got three different bands that span three different genres. I spend more time spinning my wheels (mostly being stressed out, waiting) on bookings than anything else. I think I need to test the waters with a legit booking agent.
     
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  5. slybird

    slybird Member

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    My first band did. That was about 20 years ago. Brought us through two tours. I am pretty sure 930 in DC, Metro in Chicago, and many of the other clubs we played wouldn't have given a random band from NY the time of day without an agent.

    I have only been playing locally since then. Locally I've never needed an agent. I know the terrain and I just get in touch with the clubs directly.
     
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  6. sshan25

    sshan25 Supporting Member

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    Yes but I like to call her "the librarian".
     
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  7. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    I used to have all the local contacts looked down. In fact I did it several times but in and around Austin there are seismic shifts every couple of years and the club closes down and reopens with new people or the people I knew have moved onto something else. Unless things really lined up I'd only be looking to play about 5 hours away with a guarantee and a hotel room for the night.
     
  8. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

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    The blues band I recently shut down had worked with a booking agent since 2009. She was very professional, had a contract for every gig we played with all of the details clearly spelled out (date & time of the gig, venue address, parking information, venue contact name with email address and phone number, our performance fee
    and whether we were to be paid in cash or by check, the load-in and load-out times, sound check time, food & beverage discounts (if any), the band’s pre-gig promotion requirements (such as social media postings, and providing posters for the venue), the venue’s promotion requirements, liability insurance requirements (if any), details regarding hotel accommodations for the band if applicable, whether the venue or the band was responsible for providing the PA and lighting, whether the venue provided a soundman, who was responsible for paying performing rights license fees to BMI/ASCAP/SESAC, etc.), and got us gigs in good venues. We also booked some of our own gigs, and that wasn’t a problem for her. Her fee was 15% per gig, and worth every penny because she took care of all of the details for every gig she booked.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  9. slybird

    slybird Member

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    I'm not saying a local agent is useless. They are defiantly helpful if you are a band that desires to make it and play more than a few clubs. There are way more bands than booking agents. A good agent is unlikely to take a client that doesn't make for a good fit.
     
  10. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    I get what you're saying. To me local is the state of Texas, it's a pretty large market on it's own. A short tour of the South or out to the West coast is doable. I see heavier sounding local bands (my projects are heavy rock/metal) playing really cool shows for national touring acts in Austin at the bigger clubs. I'm guessing they get those gigs through a booking agent correct? So I would love to be the opening for a national act at most if not all the gigs they play in Texas and maybe Louisiana. I think my goals are realistic but not without a booking agent.
     
  11. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

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    That sounds amazing! Do you know how many other bands she booked? Or were y'all her only client?
     
  12. Badstrat

    Badstrat Member

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    Around my area most of the happening venues use an agent. There is about 5 or 6 agents and only 1 gives us work and that’s only 1 venue because they request us. They probably consider us too old for what is mostly a young persons scene. I’m sure we’re good enough. Probably better than most of the agents bands. It’s a real closed shop with these agents as there isn’t a lot of venues so they can’t have too many bands to try and get work for. It does tick me off cause there’s a few venues we would be really suited but can’t get. We still manage to get 5 or 6 gigs a month on our own and don’t have to pay commission. One venue we play gets real packed with young people but the agent venue across the road ends up with 10 people at the end of the night.
     
  13. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

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    QUOTE="JiveJust, post: 27810281, member: 59677"]That sounds amazing! Do you know how many other bands she booked? Or were y'all her only client?[/QUOTE]

    Her main focus was representing several very good wedding/corporate event bands and she had contacts with every wedding/event planner in the area. We were the only non-wedding band she worked with. Several years before I joined the band she was the lead singer, and continued to do bookings for it after she decided to focus on being a booking agent. She had great entrepreneurial skills and was really good at relationship building and she was able to create a solid network of people who booked the bands she represented.
     
  14. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    We work with several agents. They have a lock on most of the places we play at - wineries, breweries, clubs, some corporate gigs. In other words, they supply the talent to the paying rooms and that's the only way to get in said rooms. The fee is 15%. I'd rather pay 15% than never get paying gigs, or making $20 bucks a man at the local **** hole.
     
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  15. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    We dont seem to be able to get bigger gigs without an agency. We are working on a marketable project.
     
  16. Bankston

    Bankston Member

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    My band opens for national acts in Houston. We don't have a booking agent. We get shows either from the promoters who booked the show for the club or the club owners. It's not that hard to break into the rotation if you've got a good band and you're professional about your business. Sometimes the promoters will organize a showcase and invite bands who want to break into that scene to play a set. You can also send a press kit, youtube clips, etc. to the promoter if they invite submissions or just go out to the shows and introduce yourselves and ask what you need to do to be considered for those gigs.

    However, you should know that you will be expected to sell tickets to the show and your slot will depend on how many tickets your band sold compared to the others on the bill. You may or may not get a cut of the tickets you sold, which usually doesn't amount to much. Also, those ticket sales get recorded into a database that all the promoters and club owners in the state have access to.

    It's tougher to get added to all the regional shows a national touring act plays. Realize that you're probably going to be paying your own way for the most part for the reasons stated above. Last year we got the attention of the bass player of a pretty well known current band, who told the promoter he wanted us to open all their Texas dates on their next tour. We'll see if it ends up happening.

    I was in a cover band once that used a booking agent. He got us maybe 2-3 gigs per month. We booked another 12-15 shows a month on our own. He still wanted his commission on the shows he didn't book. That relationship didn't last long and didn't end well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  17. stevel

    stevel Member

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    The band I'm in does.

    They get 15% IIRC.

    Just played the highest paying gig I've played in my life with this band.

    But there is some give and take.

    Our contract is that if we have a cancellation with less than 48 hours notice, we still get paid.

    However, we had this happen with one event and we got paid, but the Agent kind of made a promise to the client that we'd arrange a "make up date". We actually agreed to that but it needed to be within a certain time frame because we couldn't hold potential dates down the line that we needed to start booking paying gigs for. But we ended up doing the gig months later which at that point we felt we should get paid for because so much time had expired (and members had to re-arrange their calendars and so on).

    So there are little gripes like that that come up. But it's mostly a communication issue with the agent.

    Remember that agents want to make money, so they're going to book bands that can get gigs. They also want bands that can book high money gigs. They usually have enough bands on the roster that they can put the right band to the right event, but sometimes they will kind of do sneaky things. And like anyone in business, using someone else to make money off of, they're shysters.

    There are also different levels of "agents" - we've got people around town that call themselves agents, but they're kind of really looking to get into rooms for their own band. They're not really all that interested in working 9-5 to get gigs for their bands on their roster, and instead are just like a lot of PA guys - found out they could make more money doing that than playing gigs that they can't seem to book, so, they use their fellow musicians to make money off of.

    At the local "bar" level, unless you've got a music scene that demands it or agents have unscrupulously gotten exclusive contracts with the venue, booking yourself is the best thing if you can form a relationship with the venue.

    But almost exclusively for bigger deal events, you're going to need an agent.

    Your best bet is to have a product that's so in-demand that agents will be fighting over representing you, and you have some bargaining power with them.

    Most bands don't understand how to create an in-demand act (or don't care to) so using an Agent usually won't be anything but someone taking money you didn't really need to pay.

    Unless of course just no one in the band has the kind of personality to book, and you have to use an Agent.
     
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  18. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    No, and we don't want one. In The Kootz, the leader does all the booking, although some of us help him out by finding new rooms.

    In the other two bands I'm in, I handle almost all the bookings myself and have been doing it for years. While I don't relish the job, I do it reasonably well. Having a business a background helps. I refuse to BS a club owner or manager. I know a guy around here who'll tell a club owner anything just to get his foot in the door. He's total bullsh**. He guarantees X number of followers and inevitably doesn't deliver. Many of his gigs are one-timers. That's no way to operate. You have to be honest.

    I tell the club owner we can bring people in, that we publicize the gigs through our Facebook and mailing list, and let them know what the band does and what we can do for them. I'm not going to try and give them a hard count of how many bodies we can bring through the door, simply because I don't know. It varies. We've brought as many as 45-50 people in, and and as few as 5-6. There are always other factors involved when it comes to getting folks out to see the band(s).

    Then, I turn it around and ask the owner/manager, "What do you do to attract a crowd?"
     
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  19. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I work with a couple of agents. I have no idea what percentage they get but I'm guessing it's probably closer to 40%. They ask me if I'll do a gig (and size of group...from solo to ?), tell me what it pays me(my cut), I say 'yes' or 'no'. Simple.
    I suspect that's how many agents work, across the country.
     
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  20. The Kid

    The Kid Member

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    That made me laugh out loud!

    I mean they'll help you, ... but they'll be damned if they're going to make it easy for you! Strangely spot on.

    I used a guy for a little over a year. It was a battle. I made his job easy too. I texted him any gaps in my schedule and he picked from those. We'd book via text.

    He wanted to book all the acts at the same price and take %15-%20 off the top. I charge more and it was a struggle to get him to book my rate.

    I said, "You do this for a living. How am I able to negotiate higher starting prices myself??"

    Plus, some rooms pay him by check once a month, so you have to wait on your money. It was ridiculous.

    There were rooms that wanted me more often and he'd always say that he'd talk to them and never did. They'd ask again and I'd mention what he said, and they'd say they asked and he would never pull the trigger.

    Finally, with warning, I took a few rooms from him that had come to me and asked me to play more often, and at my regular rate.

    I lost three rooms that he books by doing that, but got one back about a year later. It just wasn't worth it to me to continue with him.

    It's more profitable to not work with an agent. I don't even have the availability to give anyone anymore. Fridays are booked at different places year round as well as first and third Saturdays.

    I keep some open for variety and those go fast. My focus is on off night gigs. It's a hustle, but it's worth the effort.
     
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