How to hire a booking agent
Behind every major successful musician is a booking agent, tackling the logistics of getting you the shows you want to play. Here, we guide you through the process of getting one.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Every successful musician has a great booking agent, and today, we’re helping you find the right agent to further your career.
Booking agents do not make the world go round. Instead, they make artists go around the world. Every successful artist needs a great booking agent. These professionals can take bands playing gigs in DIY spaces and get them club dates. They can take a club headliner and make them a theater act. A great booking agent can take someone’s career to the next level, and that is what we want for you and your music.
But there’s a catch. Every artist wants a booking agent, and there are far more talented musicians than skilled booking agents. The competition for attention is tough. So much so that many will spend months or even years looking for an agent who can help their career.
If you Google advice ‘booking agent advice,’ the internet will offer thousands of articles with tips and tricks for finding the right person to elevate your career. Most of that information is false or incomplete. There are only four things you need to do to land a booking agent, and they are as follows:
- Your career needs to be in good standing with strong branding, an active social media presence, a devout following, and a successful track record with live performances. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played ten shows or two hundred. All people need to know is what happened at these performances. Did you sell out? Did people come to see you? Are people buying merch? Would someone unfamiliar with your music walk away from the show, itching to see you again? If so, let’s continue.
- Have good relationships within the live music industry. Booking agents will ultimately do all the talking, but you want promoters and other live industry professionals to think highly of you. Being liked is an easy way to get opportunities. Be nice, treat people with respect, and do whatever you can to help others. You never know who will be in a position to impact your career down the line.
- Research booking agents and agencies. There are hundreds of booking agents in America, but only a few are right for you. Spend some time researching local, regional, and national booking agents to understand who may be interested in working with you. From there, build a list of potential agents and learn everything you can about them. The more you know, the better.
- Make contact. Once you’ve narrowed down a list of potential booking agents, reach out and invite those individuals to an upcoming performance. Please give the recipient(s) everything they need to walk into that show, ready to sign you. Be sure to include the venue location, show date, and set time. You should also include links to your website, social media pages, and Spotify.
In the latest Music Biz update, James Shotwell walks you through the process of finding and securing a booking agent. He offers insight into the four-step process above, as well as the importance of each. He also provides an outline for outreach emails. Check it out:
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James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.