When Does An Artist Need A Booking Agent?

I am sometimes asked by artists when an artist really needs a booking agent. In answering this question there are several things  an artist needs to consider.

First, an artist really needs to consider what stage they are in, in their music business career.

If you are just playing shows in your own town right now, you don’t need to pay an agent to get you those shows. This is the time when you concentrate on booking your own shows and selling them out on a regular basis.

What does this mean exactly? As an artist I would start with 50 to 100 people paying $5.00 per show and sell this show out. Begin this with your home market, meaning your home city. Then increase this figure to regularly selling-out shows of 100-150 people at around $10 per ticket in your home market. Finally, push to sell 100-150 tickets at $10 each in a few surrounding cities on a regular basis of once every few months.  When you have completed this you will find you are able to generate enough income that a booking agent will either find you or you will have enough leverage to find a good professional agent or agency.

The artists also needs to consider the agents’  perspective which is,  if you the artist are not making at least $200 per show, why would they work for a percent of that revenue? A professional agent makes their living from the commissions of an artist’s show revenues, usually around 15 percent. So if your live show revenue is not the $700 or $800+ range, it is going to be very hard to convince a professional booking agent to get on board with your artistic career.

Now, you are ready to get a great music agent who can help you. You have more work than you can handle because you are very popular and you really need to expand your performances and possibly tour. Your new agent should be able to get you better shows, better deals, opening slots on high profile gigs and book you better than you could ever have done by yourself.

As an artist always remember that you are building a “business” and like any other small business owner think hard before increasing your costs by adding staff or outside services before you are really ready.