Most musicians think a booking agent will automatically get the band great gigs that pay really well and have large audiences.
That simply is not true.
You need to get the right booking agent at the right time
to build your fanbase.
Here’s the video transcript:
Today we’re answering the question, “Should your band hire a booking agent?”
Gigs are hard to come by and good shows, ones that pay well and have a large audience, are very rare. Booking your band takes a huge amount of time and effort. Wouldn’t it be better and easier to find a good booking agent?
“Yes” and “No”.
“Yes” if you hire the right agent. “No” if you try to get the wrong kind of agent.
Let me explain:
Booking agents have one job—get your band more shows. More shows give your band greater exposure, increase your fan base, gives you more ministry opportunities, and in the end makes your band more money. Booking agents get paid well and before the band gets paid. If they don’t, they won’t work for you. Therein lies the dilemma—you need the booking agent more than they need your band.
Don’t try to pull any prima donna stunts with a booking agent; there are hundreds more bands they can work with.
Booking agents generally get 15-20% of the band’s gross performance fees. This creates another dilemma—20% of nothing is still nothing. If your band doesn’t get paid a large amount of money for each show, you’re not worth the booking agent’s time. Do the math, if your band grosses $100,000 a year just in performance fees, the agent would only get $20,000. Many of us would be thrilled to gross $10,000 this year in performance fees, so an agent would get $2,000 for the whole year! Would you work for a whole year for $2,000? Agents have so many bands to choose from that of course they’re going to look at bands that are already commanding reasonable performance fees. One last dilemma—your band will be one of many bands on the agent’s roster. Who’s going to get most of the attention? Not the new guy. The agent will focus his most of his attention on the bands that are already popular and add in other bands when it is convenient and when time allows.
When should your band hire a booking agent?
Right Away… when you’re still practicing and not quite ready to play out. The trick is to hire the right kind of booking agent. You don’t want the guy I described earlier—the nationally famous Nashville type booking agent when you’re just starting out. For that guy to be effective he should be hired in conjunction with a major label deal or after you have a very large national fan base. Instead, look closer to home. Your booking agent doesn’t have to be a professional sales person or telemarketer. They don’t have to have connections in the industry.
Your ideal booking agent:
• Believes in your band’s ministry
• Loves people
• Is great at connecting people and ministries
• Loves to talk on the phone and text
• Pays attention to details
• Is persistent and consistent and
• Is available to place and take calls most of the time
You probably already know this person… a band wife, a huge fan, a college student, possibly even a band member. Find someone who’s willing to work extremely hard to make your band’s ministry successful. Ideally, they would only work with your band or, at most, one or two other bands. You don’t need a professional; you need a friendly go getter.
Want to learn how to book more gigs? We have a free PDF for you that outlines when to book the different types of shows throughout the year and how to go about doing it. Click this button to get your FREE Band Booking Calendar:
Since we’ve already established that none of us would work for $2,000 a year, it doesn’t make sense to expect an agent to work for only a percentage of the band’s performance fees. I’m also assuming you realize that booking a not-so-famous band is a tedious, difficult job. Otherwise, the band would be willing to do the work themselves. So, what can you offer an agent? Perks—lots and lots of perks (in addition to a percentage of the performance fees).
Here are some ideas for perks:
• Free phone with unlimited minutes and texting – add their phone to a band member’s family plan and have the band pay the additional expense. The perk comes in by allowing the agent to use this as their personal phone as well.
• Free meals and housing when travelling with the band – the agent doesn’t have to travel with the band, but you may find that they enjoy meeting the promoters they’ve talked to on the phone and are happy to help run your merchandise table. Of course, they should be given first priority (before other band family members) to travel with the band if seating is tight. The band should pay for all their expenses.
• Cover all their office expenses – like ink for printers, materials for press kits. The perk is that they can have as much of this as they want for their personal use.
• Lots of band freebies – t-shirts, hats, stickers—whatever you have, for their personal use—they can give them as gifts to their family and friends.
And don’t limit the perks to band related stuff. If you expect the agent to spend 20-30 hours a week working for you at almost no pay, be prepared to do whatever you can to help them out personally. Think of it as trading your work for their work… and don’t wait for them to ask. Get in there and treat the agent REALLY well, otherwise you’ll lose them.
Here’s some simple ways to help your agent:
• Do assorted yard work like mowing lawns, raking leaves etc.
• Do some vehicle maintenance—car washes, oil changes
• Run some of their errands
• Don’t forget free food as an incentive—everyone loves goodies
The band needs to treat the agent especially well when times are tough, when there are no shows to be had. It’s extremely difficult to continue to make more phone calls when nothing has been successful lately. An agent’s hard work doesn’t always pay off in great shows. But, the only way to get more shows is to keep the agent excited and motivated—complaining about the lack of shows or lack of “good shows” is not going to accomplish that. Instead, go over and above to love on your booking agent and find out what you can do to help out.
Work with your own booking agent as long as possible. When your band gets to the point of needing a national booking agent, it’ll be much easier to attract one. The transition from your own agent to a national agent will go much more smoothly if the band has solid repeat dates and reasonable performance fees to build on.
One last thought:
Don’t limit your ideas of a booking agent to band type people. The agent doesn’t have to look like a band member or keep up with the latest slang. They won’t be representing the band to your fans. This would be a great ministry for someone who is housebound—maybe in a wheelchair or taking care of elderly parents.
Your booking agent is part of your band’s professional team. But, most importantly, they’re part of your band’s ministry. Remember that the greatest ministry impact your band will have is to the people closest to you.
Do you need more help creating an extraordinary music ministry? Check out all the resources and articles on Christian Band Help.com. And as always, feel free to e-mail Marie@ChristianBandHelp.com with questions. Thanks for joining me today!
One of the best tools we have developed for you at Christian Band Help is The Christian Band Handbook. This resource book covers topics such as defining your ministry’s mission, how to find the right band members, choosing and protecting your band’s name, copyrights, press kits and booking, music marketing, how to make the most of your ministry dollars, and a whole lot more.
We know what it’s like to be a Christian musician. Between us my husband Mark and I have over 60 years of experience in almost every aspect of music ministry. I wrote this book so you can learn from our experience. We want to help you launch your band on the journey to impact the world around you while avoiding the pitfalls along the way.
The Christian Band Handbook is available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon and most e-book retailers.
For more information go to ChristianBandHelp.com, click on ‘Store’ on the navigation bar, and then click on ‘Christian Band Handbook’. Or you can click on the link directly below this video: https://christianbandhelp.com/store/the-christian-band-handbook/
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