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Booking Agents for Musicians: 6 Things You Should Know

Becoming a talented musician is hard enough without the headache of having to find and schedule gigs. Practice makes perfect and spending hours upon hours contacting potential venues eats into the precious time you have to hone your craft. It’s easy to become disillusioned when faced with seemingly endless scheduling administration.

And let’s face it, musicians aren’t known for their love of administrative pursuits, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Did you know that around 90% of all musicians fail to get recognized? It’s not down to a lack of talent either, it’s all about finding the right connections.

If you’re curious to learn more about how booking agents for musicians in Chicago could help your career, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.

It’s Not What You Know…

It’s who you know. It doesn’t matter how talented you are if you don’t have the connections necessary to build mutually beneficial relationships within the business. Once you get the ball rolling, your talent will speak for itself, but until then you’re dead in the water.

Finding an agent who can assist in finding you the right gigs to get your name out there is the first and most important step. Without the backing of an established entertainment agency or agent, you’re going to find it near impossible to gain any traction. The world of the entertainment industry is harsh and cruel, and without a guide, it can be a disheartening one.

Entertainment companies already have well-established avenues of finding potential gigs for aspiring musicians. People who want professional entertainment look for it through professional agencies to ensure a certain level of talent and reliability. Here are six things to consider before contacting a booking agent.

1. Booking Agents for Musicians 

A booking agent is someone who knows the industry inside out, and the local scene to boot. More importantly, they’ve got a little black book full of names and numbers of those who might be interested in hiring you for a gig. Depending on your style of music or the type of work you’re looking for, they will know who to send proposals to.

A good agent knows who to contact and is well-liked and trusted by those they work with. Simply put, booking agents are the go-between who facilitates the meeting between the needful and the needed.

2. But What Do They Do?

Most musicians balk at the idea of the intricacies of the administrative side of their art. If you’re a musician yourself, you’re probably much more interested in spending your time being creative than networking. This is where the booking agent comes in to save the day.

Things like scheduling shows, negotiating contracts, collecting or making payments, and dealing with promotional material. All the dry stuff that requires staring at a computer screen or making detailed notes when you’d rather be writing songs and perfecting a new tune.

It might seem boring, but talented agents are the lifeblood of the industry. Your success hinges on their skills just as much as yours do on theirs.

3. Finding an Event Entertainment Booking Agent

Firstly you need to convey yourself as an attractive prospect. Agents are contacted regularly with propositions by other musicians who are looking for representation. Put yourself in the shoes of an agent receiving multiple emails a day, and ask yourself how to best stand out.

A strong internet presence is a good start, as well as proof of your talent and ability. If you’re seen to be creative and have an interesting sound and presence, you’re already halfway there. If you have a lot of positive feedback and it’s easy to find, you’ll seem a lot more appealing.

Agents work with agency entertainment and want to show themselves as capable of finding new and interesting talent. Before contacting an agent, ask yourself how you’re likely to be perceived. First impressions count, so put the work in before making contact.

4. What Do They Cost?

Usually booking agents take a commission from the work they find you. This way you can feel reassured that they’re doing their best to find you work. Their typical cut is around 10-15%, but a good agent will be open to negotiation as you progress in the industry.

It’s best not to lowball an agent as you’re starting. They’ll help you build a foundation, so don’t be cheap! Remember to appreciate the opportunities that come your way.

5. Be Communicative

If you’ve reached a position where you feel ready to reach out to booking agents, remember to check regularly for replies. The last thing an agent wants to do is become involved with an artist who goes AWOL for weeks on end.

You’ll want to make sure you check your emails for replies regularly and reply to them punctually. Professional to professional, this will prove you’re not messing around and value their time and services.

6. Sell Yourself

Put some effort into making yourself or your band look as attractive a prospect as possible. Record local shows, put videos together, cultivate a strong online presence and do your best to emulate the type of person or group that agents search high and low for.

For example, market yourself as the corporate event entertainer they’re looking for and you’ll soon be tripping over corporate party entertainment gigs. It might not be the Hollywood Bowl, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

If you succeed in cultivating an engaging look you’ll have a much easier time convincing an agent that you’re on the cusp of success and worth their attention!

Put Your Best Foot Forward

The landscape of the music business in Chicago is highly competitive. It’s worth remembering that agents are people too, and have to deal with a lot of conceited people who believe themselves to be the next Beatles. Treat them with the respect they deserve, and you’ll be treated the same.

In the end, the entertainment business is still a business, and money is the final arbiter. If you’re polite and talented, you’ll have no trouble getting your foot in the door. 

If this article has answered some of your questions about booking agents for musicians and you’re keen to learn more, feel free to contact us! We’d love to hear from you.

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