One of the most important characters in the entire music industry is the booking agent. Behind the scenes and highly influential, artists often see a good booking agent as their ticket to success. While this certainly has some truth to it, it’s important to understand what exactly a booking agent does so that one can see the whole picture.
A booking agent’s life is nonstop and full of responsibilities. When events happen on the weekend and in all sorts of timezones, you can be sure that you’ll be lucky if you only have to deal with a couple problems in one weekend.
So, what responsibilities does this nonstop life entail?
Communicate with promoters
The booking agent’s primary task should come as no surprise. Keeping promoters who book an agent’s artists happy is one of their top priorities. This is no easy feat however - in addition to agreeing on a competitive fee for the artists, booking agents also must be very good at saying no. It’s not uncommon for promoters to request things that the booked artist does not want to do, either in terms of the show or promotion for it. A good booking agent needs to know how to handle these kinds of conversations and leave all parties happy.
Communicate with artists
A booking agent needs to be aligned with their artists’ interests - period. That’s the job they were brought on to do, and also the reason why a booking agent usually gets a commission per booking as opposed to many other jobs in the music industry. This means that booking agents need to be in touch with their artists and make sure they feel heard. Often, artists will need more help then they would like to admit, and people who see these areas and are able to provide that extra support are bound to become exceptional booking agents.
Manage everyone’s expectations
Just like a promoter can be disappointed if they spend the value of a decent used car on an artist and no one shows up, an artist can be disappointed if they see their name on a poster full of big names and still end up playing for an empty room. A good booking agent is able to pre-emptively prevent both of these scenarios and maintain a solid working relationship with their artists and the promoters who book them. This means thinking ahead constantly, leaving no stones unturned, and never being afraid of an uncomfortable conversation when one has to happen.
Being a booking agent is a full time job which requires a lot of passion and dedication. People in this role accept a lot of responsibility, and the life is certainly not easy. However, for a specific type of person, it’s the dream job.
However, there’s only one way to find out - get out there and start doing bookings!