As recorded music sales continue to decline, the live music experience has grown more important for artists' careers. Getting an agent can make a major difference, especially when you start playing outside of your hometown. However, talent alone isn't enough. To convince an agent you're worth representing, you must present yourself as a professional who can consistently draw crowds.
Before contacting an agent, consider whether your music really generates enough business to justify hiring one. Kenny Kerner, a music producer, agent and journalist, wore on the Taxi Transmitter website that the best case scenario is a band or solo artist who makes several hundred dollars a night, and has a good idea of how many people show up. New artists are better off booking their own shows until the demand grows too big to handle that function themselves.
Focus Your Approach
Once you decide that an agent is needed, research which ones handle your type of music and contact them directly. In most cases, that information is available on the booking agency's or venue's website. If those details aren't posted, assume the organization doesn't want unsolicited contacts, and move on to your next choice. Otherwise, expect to give a brief pitch about why you're a good fit for that particular venue or agency.
Follow Up with a Promo Package
If your initial phone or email exchanges go well, the agent will probably request a promo package to determine if you're worth his time. The basic ingredients include a brief biography, photo, demo CD, and the venues that you've played, according to Kerner. Also, provide attendance figures of how many people you draw. Cover bands should include their current song lists, since the venues booking those acts typically cater to specific artists or musical styles, such as classic rock.
Get It In Writing
After you find a compatible agent, spend some time working out the details of your relationship. Avoid signing exclusive deals unless the agent guarantees a specific series of events -- such as higher fees -- over a fixed time frame. If possible, request a 60-day trial period to see how things work out. Once you do sign, get performance contracts for every show so there's no confusion about how long you play or how much you earn.
Whatever agreement you sign, make sure you understand the differences between agents and managers. Agents arrange paying performances, for which they negotiate contracts. In some cases, they also coordinate interview and touring arrangements. Don't expect an agent to become your career planner or confidante. Those tasks fall to the manager, who guides your long-term career but doesn't get involved in booking dates.
- Photo Credit Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty Images
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