The Difference Between a Booking Agent and a Real Booking Agent
A couple of days ago I had the privilege of talking with a “booking agent” who was no longer a booking agent but had just recently told my client that they were going to be booking shows for them. There was no agreement between the two, which was good for my client in this instance. The “booking agent” had only booked one show in two years, so obviously I wanted to find out their game plan to increase their output for my client. I was hoping maybe it would start with something like waking up or getting out of bed or something that would at least start with movement as that would have seemed to been more effort than anything previously tried after two years.
When I first called, I introduced myself and simply asked the status of her relationship with my client. Did she have an agreement with my client? Did she have a game plan? Well of course no one likes to be questioned, but that is my job after all and my client’s income is of paramount importance to me, so of course I am going to ask if the “booking agent” has any plans to book my client.
Well Miss “booking agent” proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t really a booking agent anymore but more into promotions. I asked what she was promoting and why she just told my client a few weeks before she was going to be booking shows for him if she wasn’t a booking agent. She said that she was working on a couple of shows coming up and that she really just meant that she was talking about those shows with my client. I asked her why then my client is listed as her artist if she wasn’t going to book him and if she had a copy of the email agreement she said she had with my client. She replied, “Well wouldn’t it be easier if you got it from him?” Of course by this time I am beginning to have fun and you know how I like my fun with people in the business. I replied to her, “I already asked him and he doesn’t have it. However, if you are the person who sent it, you should have a copy, especially if you are professional and I asked you for one so you should send it and not pass the buck.” Of course she didn’t have a copy of it.
She kept telling me “If you look at my website…” and that she had all these connections and blah, blah, blah. It’s not my job to review their website to figure out what they do. They told my client they were going to book shows for them so that is what should be done no matter what her website says.
I wanted to tell her that her website was very bad, that it said it was booking my client for 2011 right on the top of the page and that she no dates listed for her “supposed” promotions. If you don’t have any promotions going on then you aren’t a promoter. What I did say was “Well if you have all these connections, why haven’t you been able to book my client in the last two years?” Her reply was “Well if you want me to take him off my website, I will, just let me know.” Of course I said, “That is exactly what I want.” She replied “I don’t see why it hurts to have him up there. It’s all promotion for him and makes him look better.” I said, “Please just take him down and I’ll find another booking agent.” Of course that didn’t go over well and she hung up on me. This is of course paraphrased.
To all the musicians reading this and the booking agents who are just starting out or are not doing anything for their clients, please understand this. If you are telling a musician that you will do something for them — do it! If you can’t, then be honest and let them know. You are really helping to cause the burn out and depression that artists go through because they are relying on you to do your job and you simply aren’t. It creates great frustration and makes everyone want to give up on his or her dreams. Don’t be another “professional” that doesn’t get it done and adds to the stigma we all face.
Also realize that being on your website is not promotion for the artist especially if you are not getting a ton of hits on it or if you aren’t running a social media campaign. Promotion is a verb. It means you are actively doing something consistently. Not a picture on a page no one sees. Add to that, if your website and professional image is poor quality, then you are hurting the artist not helping. Your image and professionalism reflects on them and the other professionals and fans who see it. It gives a very poor image of the level the artist is at instead of putting them in the best light possible.
If you can’t put your business and image on the same level an artists has to be at, then you are not helping. Appearance and perception is everything in the entertainment world. You run a business and if you want to achieve success you should reflect it, not have poor quality imagery. You and the artist must always show growth in this area, not stagnation.
Artists beware, it’s ok while starting out to work with people that will help you even at the begging level, but after a while if they aren’t doing anything for you or they are hurting your image then it’s time to move on. Your booking agent should have goals set to meet every month so that your goals, as well as theirs, are being met. One thing I have noticed is that if they book enough shows to pay all their bills then they quit working. They don’t think about your bills, which is actually their job. They are supposed to be making you enough income for you to make a living at this. They should have goals that meet your income needs within a realistic time frame with the other agents. If they don’t meet the goals consistently then it’s time to let go.
Just remember that we all have bad months, sometimes a couple in a row. Also you should be working with multiple agents at this level with all non-exclusive contracts. This will vary depending on length of tours and other things. If you aren’t going on tour then don’t expect them to be booking you unless you ask for a couple gigs to stay up on your skills.
Being a booking agent is a sales job. All sales jobs have sales goals. If you don’t meet your goals each day you shouldn’t stop working till you do. That’s how you make it in sales. Set some key things that have to be done everyday and you will be successful if you are consistent with your day-to-day goals.