Booking agents make the magic happen for musicians. From securing and scheduling gigs, to reviewing contracts and confirming appearances, it’s the booking agents job to ensure clients have a chance to share their work. And get properly compensated for it! After helping performers get paid, booking agents take a small commission for their pay. The average annual starting salary for a booking agent in the US is $34,734 a year. This can range between $27,000 and $61,000, though. It all depends on who’s being represented and the overall market. Some typical responsibilities include communicating with venues, scheduling gigs, analyzing contracts, and even organizing tours. So, what does it take to become a booking agent?
Research, Research, Research
Two possible paths to becoming a booking agent include the talent agency route and the independent route. For the first option, interning at a talent agency is a great place to start. This is a straightforward way to make industry contacts. Though you’ll still have to report to a boss, this strategy introduces you to the business and helps you make connections in the community.
The first step to becoming a talent agent independently is figuring out what type of talent you hope to represent. Identify whether you will be representing lecturers, magicians, bands, painters, dancers, or any other type of performance artists. Secondly, do some research in order to identify who potential buyers might be. For example, if you plan to have musical clients, look into demand at restaurants, pubs, and reception halls.
Once you figure out what type of client you hope to represent as a freelance booking agent, head out to their typical shows. Attend the gigs that these musicians already play. Once there, pay attention to your surroundings. What type of people are showing up? This information will be helpful for scheduling shows later. Social media is another powerful tool for assessing potential buyers for your clients. Who likes and comments on that musician’s posts? Who talks about the artist and what do they say? After collecting this information, you are ready to officialize your business.
The next important step to establishing your own freelance live music booking agency is, you guessed it, the paperwork. Some regions require licensing and certification for booking agents. Investigate the relevant legal regulations through your local library system and government sites. After checking up on your qualifications, you are ready apply to your state government for business permits, bonds, and licenses.
Once you have all the necessary permits, it’s time to build your brand! Start by crafting your marketing materials. Use a professional printer to make brochures, business cards, and flyers. Then, work with a lawyer to formulate contracts for your future musicians and clients. Next, perfect your payment system and schedule by deciding whether it will be based on a percentage or fee based commission system. Prioritize flexibility in your payment schemes in order to close more deals. Continue attending as many artist shows as possible to find more clients and iron out your agency’s brand.
Skills and Strategies
Because strong relationships make the foundation of this industry, some essential qualities of a good booking agent include adaptability, positivity, and people skills. Similarly, this job can demand travel and high stress, so working well under pressure is a must. Though a music degree or training program with a popular agency can help get you started, being trustworthy, respectful, and hardworking will ultimately help build a good reputation with musicians, promoters, and buyers.
In terms of networking, it’s important to be proactive. At your client’s shows, prioritize talking with event goers. Encourage your talent to do the same. This way, you can build a steady pool of fans, who can help secure a recurring booking at a venue.
More information for potential booking agents can be found at the American Federation of Musicians and the Association of Talent Agents. Making it as a booking agent or event promoter comes down to networking, hard work, and a passion for musicians and artists. A degree in Business Management can be helpful, but more than anything work experience will prepare you for a career as a live music booking agent. Allow curiosity to guide your practice and you can’t fail. Stay interested in the genre of music you represent, the local scene you work in, and the musicians on your roster. By staying connected to your network, as well as the broader music community, your journey as a freelance or agency event promoter or booking manager will be a success.
Looking for a place to start finding musicians in your area? Consider using our easy search function to discover new talent in any and every genre. Or, use MusicLift for booking made easy. In one place, clients can find, sample, book, and pay for the talent they want! Streamline the booking process and jumpstart your career as a live music booking agent with MusicLift.