I have never talked to an artist that didn’t want a booking agent yesterday! That is because booking is hard and crucial for an artist to sustain a career. The truth is that when it is time for you to have an agent usually agents are already courting you. I have been an agent 3 times “officially” meaning I worked for established agencies that had a legitimate roster of artists and I have also booked many of the bands that I managed until an agent became interested in my artists. Very rarely does an artist find an agent without anything going on or without the artist already generating money on their own.
I was at Americana Fest a month or so ago and was having a conversation with an agent friend of mine and I posted that question to him, and his answer is very interesting. He said that it is time for an agent to get involved when the artist doesn’t feel like they need an agent anymore. Meaning that you have been able to build your brand to the point where venues, promoters, and talent buyer know who you are and are interested in booking you. Basically, he was saying when you have proof of concept, meaning you have built a sufficient fan base regionally to the point where there is enough is going on in your artist world that and agent can talk to their buyer relationships and there is name recognition of your brand and they want to talk about what a deal could look like to put you in their venue, on their stage or part of their festival etc.
What does proof of concept mean for Talent Buyers and Promoters.
A. Do you have a fan base, proof of that includes streaming numbers, social numbers as well as engagement on all social media as well as fan email/texting list.
B. Tour history where you can give real numbers of recent shows that you have been able to draw people to similar venues in the market and regionally. Tour schedule visible on all your social sites, and web sites.
C. Do you have a great looking and sounding video of you playing live to a captive audience? Proof that you have a great show, and you are entertaining enough for people to enjoy the show and pay to see you perform. This is live music not video clips edited to a master session.
D. Do you have a way to tour? Transportation, band situation, how are touring now? What does your rider look like, how many people on the road at each show? How many rooms, meals etc. Can you even afford to tour? Day jobs etc.
An agent’s job is to find talent buyers that are willing to invest their money and expose you to their ticketing buying network and bring ticketing buying fans to their venue/ or event. We talked about hard tickets and soft tickets last time. Regardless of which kind of talent buyer and or promoter you are being sold to you must have a show and you must have proof of concept, usually that means a fan base and touring history. An agent’s job is to find you shows from buyers that are willing to pay for you. What is not their job is to build your fan base for you, that is your job. That doesn’t mean that they do not have a strategy to help build fans. An agent sells shows to buyers that are interested in buying your show. It is that simple! If there are no buyers interested in buying your show, then you don’t need and agent.