Guide to finding a booking agent as an independent musician
As an independent artist the idea of booking your own shows in addition to everything else can feel overwhelming – fortunately, there’s someone out there who can take care of it for you.
Guest post by Randi Zimmerman of the Symphonic Blog
As live shows continue to slowly make their comeback, artists are more than ready to hit the ground running. If you’ve been booking your own live shows since before the pandemic, you’re already aware of how difficult and time consuming it can be to do it yourself. Luckily, you don’t have to! Spend your time doing what really matters to you, like making great music. Here’s how to find the perfect booking agent.
How To Find a Booking Agent as an Independent Musician
Here’s the rundown…
Your booking agent is responsible for booking things like concerts, gigs, tours, radio, and TV performances. The main difference between a booking agent and a manager is just as it sounds. Just as your manager manages you and your endeavors as an artist, your booking agent focuses on booking.
Booking agents do all the heavy lifting for you. From handling negotiations to finding other artists to tour with you, they’re an important team member to consider. So, how do you find one?
1. Realistically, you need to be at a level in your career that will attract an agent to you in the first place.
Your show needs to be good. You can’t be just getting your shit together. You need to have been playing successful shows and doing well on your own already. That means a professional presence with proper branding, social media presence, and a dedicated fanbase.
Booking agents only get paid when you do. Typically, they work on commission and take 10-15%. That means if you aren’t making money, there’s no incentive for an agent to want to work with you. (Don’t be offended! — I know it sounds harsh but it’s just the way the cookie crumbles, I’m afraid.)
2. Next, form some good relationships with venue owners & local booking agents.
Booking agents and venue owners are the besties at the lunch table you definitely want to be friends with. They’re the ones who know exactly what’s going on in the local scene from who’s who to what venue is in need of new artist to book for their next event.
Don’t sleep on the power of word of mouth!
- Without any connections to work with, any agent you have interest in knows almost nothing about you. — Start by inviting them to a show.
- This relationship may not happen over night, but it’s worth it in the long-run to forge a meaningful one genuinely.
- Remember, your booking agent is an important part of your team. They should be just as invested as you are.
Expand your mind…
3. Research different agencies.
From smaller local agencies to the big guys in the larger more established agencies, each have their own set of benefits. If you currently are invested in your local scene and want to stay there, a local agency can provide you with an agent who is knowledge of the opportunities in that scene and really focus on you.
On the other hand, artists looking to join a larger team and expand their reach beyond their local scene may benefit from a larger agency that can group them up with other artists in their roster.
Aside form reaching out to your local venues, this is going to take a hefty google search and some finesse. Consider any of your peers who already have agents. Reach out to them and ask how it’s going. They may have some connections who can help you out and put in a good word.
4. Craft the perfect email.
Once you have a solid list of good fits for you, it’s time to reach out. Keep in mind, these people get a lot of emails. Keep it short and sweet.
Start by inviting them to a show. For the subject line, include the name of the venue, the date of the show, and the time. For the main copy, start by introducing yourself in one line. State your name (or the name of your band if you’re in one) and what type of music you play. — The entire email should be just a couple sentences.
All you need is something like: “We’re playing at [venue name] on [date of the show] and we’d love to see you there. If you can make it out, your name will be on the guest list.”
Then, don’t forget to thank them for their time.
After this, now is the perfect place to link some of your music and a video if possible. Nothing too much, a link to your Spotify profile and a music video or clip of you performing at a show will suffice. (It also doesn’t hurt to link your socials in the footer if you don’t do this already.)
Once you’ve done your research and send that fateful email, don’t hesitate to follow up if you don’ get a response after a week or so. If they decline, don’t get discouraged. Every rejection is just a redirection! The right opportunity will come.
You got this!