Wednesday

Need Extra Money? Become a booking agent!


You wanna start Booking Bands? There’s money in it, with a minimum amount of stress.
IF you do it right.

Three things that you need to focus on while you read through:

1. Building Your Stable
2. Scheduling Gigs
3. Getting paid

What’s in it for me?
Booking bands is not too difficult, although there are issues that you’ll have to deal with that you may have never experienced before. The more acts that you have involved, the more issues you’ll encounter. One act is probably best to begin with, but in that case you’ll be limited on the variety you can provide a venue, and you’ll be limited on your income potential; so you may be inclined to stock your stable with more.

I would suggest beginning with no more than 3 full bands, a 2 piece act, and a solo act to complete your stable. That’s 5 acts to pull from, ranging from the biggest outdoor stage to the smallest corner of a coffee shop.

Working with a full band means that you potentially have more people to promote the show, which would give the venue a better return on their investment. They will be able to play bigger, more elaborate events. With solo acts, and most duos, you have more booking opportunities. Venues that host solos and duos typically have live music most days of the week, and you have fewer schedules to work around. Yes, the monetary return is less, but the stress is too.


If you are getting 15% for each booking, here’s the rundown…


BANDS should be booked at a minimum of $120 per person. A DUO should be booked at a minimum of $250. A solo act should see a minimum of $175.


If you have each one working once on a weekend, you are looking at a minimum of ($785 x .15) $118.00 for a Saturday night where you are just sitting at home.

Bands (usually) will play on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. If you max out the schedule, one week could bring you…

Three -3 piece bands playing Thursday Friday and Saturday- will see $360 times 3 = $1080
Duo playing 5 nights- wll see $1250 *
Solo act playing 5 nights- will see $875*
(They should have at least 2 nights a week off for rest.)
The money that pays the booking agent comes directly from the above totals, so…

This particular week (at 15%) gives the booking agent…. $480. If you have 5 acts that are willing to keep up that schedule for a full month, you are looking at almost $2000 for talking good about bands you love.

This is not where you would start out, but this sort of schedule is reachable. That is booking 3 different bands, one gig per week, and then getting work for a duo and a solo act 5 days per week. With all the restaurants, and small bars in Middle Ga. This should be almost easy for someone willing to hustle in their free time.

(I would not suggest you work your bands this hard all the time. You don’t want to burn them out.)


 The 15% is negotiable….It could be more….It could be less. Talk to your bands and work out something that makes it worthwhile for both of you.

First things, first. You should get into contact with acts that you enjoy. It is so much easier to book an act if you don’t have to fake your love for them.


Booking for Bands
A band may have 3, 4 or more members. Each one has his/her own personal calendar which you’ll have to accommodate. They will also have their own idiosyncracies that you’ll have to deal with.


Select bands based on their level of professionalism. Availability is important, but don’t fall into the trap of booking gigs that the band is not going to want to play. Some bands have gotten quite accustomed to playing once every two months. If you suddenly have them playing every weekend, they’ll get burned out pretty quick. Most musicians are not assertive, or are passive aggressive. These are exactly the types that won’t ‘cancel’ a gig….They just won’t show. You’ll learn to recognize these types very quickly. Stay away from bands who don’t respect and appreciate your work….

Booking Duos

In Booking Duos, you must follow the same basic guidelines as you would a full band, or solo acts, depending on the situation. The stress is diminished, because, there are, of course, fewer personalities at play than with a band. Also, in the event that a member of a BAND or SOLO ACT is absent, the gig will usually be cancelled, But when dealing with Duos, the missing member can usually be replaced temporarily, without much headache and little notice.

Booking a Solo Act
Solo acts have changed over the last few years. Many use backing music, looping devices, and digital instruments to augment their sound. In some cases, a ‘solo’ performer will have the sound of a full band.

Many venue managers consider a solo performer to have the impact of ¼ of a full band at most.  Some venues welcome this; especially if they are concerned about the volume of the music or the space where an act may setup. Many restaurants, and smaller clubs prefer a solo or duo. Larger clubs, with a dedicated room for live music, prefer full bands; so pressing them to book a solo act is usually a waste of time.



Finding The Right Acts
There simply is no substitute for going out to see a band perform. What they do when you are not involved with them, is exactly what they will do when you are. You cannot change them. You cannot give them tips to get better that they will follow. You cannot expect to have an impact on their set list, or stage show. You will not be asking to be their ‘manager’. Your job will be to get them gigs, and this should be your primary concern.

Choose acts that put on a show that people will talk about the next day.

 So, the question that you should be asking is whether or not you feel you can sell the product that they are providing. If you think that they ALMOST have everything they need to succeed, then keep on looking. It is not worth your time or the stress involved. Musicians have fragile egos. If you start trying to make changes, they will HEAR you saying that they aren’t good enough as they are. Eventually, they will abandon you: leaving you with dates that must be filled, and both of your reputations will take a hit.

People who are motivated by money, can be depended on to show up where they are getting paid THE MOST.

You should also choose an act who is mature enough to recognize the monetary potential.
Indeed, most musicians are lazy and immature and use ‘being a musician’ as an excuse for not getting a conventional 40 hour a week job. (‘
Know thyself, right? ;) )

There are, however, many musicians who have found music to be a great option. Some have ‘real’ jobs and use music as a 2nd source of income.

 Unfortunately, if they are taking time off of their primary job to perform, they may end up losing money. This type will resent that loss and will not allow that to happen very often. Dealing with someone who’s primary source of income is not music, could result in a cancelled gig, in the event they get the opportunity to work overtime at their primary job.

I would suggest choosing musicians that either use music as their primary source of income, OR have real jobs that won’t influence their gig schedule. Many government jobs lack the potential for overtime, so musicians who work for the post office, on base, etc. would be good choices also.

Musicians who treat music as nothing more than a hobby are RIGHT OUT.


You must take this approach with every member of the band, duo, or the solo performer. You must gauge their level of commitment to you, and your work. Do not try to book an act unless everyone involved has the same level of commitment that you do.

They way a musician cares for his gear, shows you how much he depends on it.

One way to determine the level of commitment the musician has to his career, is the level of commitment he has made to his equipment. The amount of investment says something... But how he treats his equipment shows the real deal.

A musician who has a good ‘real job’ is likely to have spent a lot on high quality equipment. A musician whose primary source of income is music probably has less disposable income, and will make do with the cheapest options available out of necessity.
 

In either case, it is not so much HOW MUCH is spent….as it is HOW WELL his gear is protected, and cared for.

These are just guidelines I’ve used. Feel free come up with your own.

Scheduling
There are a few ways to schedule a gig for a band.
You may do it over the phone or online. Usually, these will require an EPK (electronic press kit) If your band doesn’t have one, they need to have something that represents what they do. Whether audio, video, or simply an article about them on a shamelessly self promoted blog such as MidGaLive.com .
 

The other way is to talk to the booking manager in person. In my opinion, this is the most effective method for smaller clubs or restaurants.

Tell them you enjoy the live music they’ve hosted, and that you think your band will fit well in this venue.

They will ask what type of music your band plays….be descriptive, but not too much.
If your band plays Last Dance with Mary Jane, tell them Tom Petty. Highway to Hell, tell them AC/DC…The reason for the question is to determine how well your band fits with their clientele….not to critique your setlist. Tell them what bands best describe the style your band brings to the table. This person usually has more important things to do, so don’t be forceful, but be direct and quick.

Know when your band is available, and be ready to fill whatever slot the venue has open.
Use a calendar that both you and the band can check and edit at a moment’s notice. The MidGaLive Music Schedule works great for that. If the band is not available, they can list that date as “not available”. Preferably, they will list that date as being a “Private Party”, or ‘Practice’. Nobody needs to know about the drummer’s colonoscopy. Either way, you will know at a glance when your band is available, and the band won’t have to track you down to make sure you know what they’re doing.

Of course, you should maintain close contact with your bands. But when booking with a venue, it is best to get things done and over with. Having the venue hold interest until you get a chance to settle on a date with all 5 members of the band, is inefficient at best….and once you do, you’ll have to pray that the venue doesn’t have something booked for that date already. REQUIRE THE ACTS IN YOUR STABLE TO KEEP YOU INFORMED OF AVAILABLE DATES. The MidGaLive Music Schedule is the quickest, easiest, most effective way to do that.


This schedule is also available for owners to look at when they decide to book your band later….They’ll know your availability before they call you, which translates into more bookings.

It is also a good way to be on the lookout for ‘double bookings’. Since it is updated in real time, and available to all, it is easy to see when a venue already has a band scheduled. This will help you keep surprises to a minimum.


MidGaLive.com has articles on most of the best local bands with links to all of their promo materials, EPK’s and videos. Emailing the link to your bands article on MidGaLive.com will give the venue everything they need.

Know the going rate for the act you are booking, and what they are worth.

I came up with a formula for determining the ‘worth’ of a band. It goes like this.

Number of years of stage experience of the members of the band.

plus  the Number of people the band will bring in.

Multiply that number by 10.

I explain this in greater detail here, but to put it simply.
 
A more experienced performer should be able to entertain people who are not familiar with him. A less experienced performer should promote more to make up for the customers that will leave due to his inexperience.

If your band is not worth at least 120 dollars per person, you should reconsider booking this band for now.
 

It is better to overdeliver than oversell.

Do not promise the venue your band will bring 20 people if you can’t get 2 people to share the event. Your job is not necessarily considered ‘promotion’, but the way you sell your band does affect the expectations the venue will have in the bands performance. The best promotion for this week’s show…..is last week’s show and if they deliver more than you promised, you’ll find it easier to get the booking again.

Getting Paid
Most small venues will pay cash at the end of the night. Some would prefer to pay with a check. If the band takes the payment at the end of the night, you’ll need to get with the band to get your cut. This is probably the easiest way to get paid, although there’s a level of trust involved. If you’re dealing with mature responsible, musicians, this is the method I suggest. Of course, everyone involved is responsible for understanding their tax responsibilities.

Some booking agents or managers choose to send an invoice to the venue. Doing this has it’s risks, too. If a venue is struggling, you may not be able to cash the check for a few weeks, if at all. Venues who cut checks are more likely to issue 1099’s at the end of the year. Before you book the band, you should find out if the venue does this and charge accordingly. If you are having the venue mail you a check, understand that you will be required to account for all the money that they’ve sent you… not just your take.


Any band you have booked, will be expecting you to make sure they are paid. If the venue decides to pay less at the end of the night, or if the venue tells the band that they will just be paying you later, you’ll be in the hotseat. Know how to handle the situation and become familiar with small claims court. Venues that play this sort of game are not that common, but they do exist. If you run across one, let people know.

There are MANY issues, that I just don’t have the time to cover…..and even if I could….it may not do you any good. The only way to learn how to do this, is to do it.

So do it.

Select a band you are familiar with and ask them to let you do their booking.
Find a venue you like that regularly hosts a similar style of music.
Book the gig.
Party like a Rock Star.

The High Points 

When you discuss this with the band you've selected, here are some things that should be addressed:

1. Area- bands will not want you to book them in places that they've already booked themselves. They will most likely prefer that you book them somewhere out of town.
Also, you want to be paid for your work, so I suggest an agreement .
I would organize it this way. Before you begin, ask the band to list the venues that they have played before. Anything you booked outside of this list, you get paid for every gig played there for one year. The year starts on the day of the first gig played there. If either of you dissolve the relationship, then the gigs in venues you have introduced the band to, will still be listed as the venues you will be paid for booking until the year is out IF other gigs are played there.The decisions are to be made betwen you and the band....These are only my suggestions!
2.Scheduling- Most booking agents limit the gigs that the bands can book on their own. The reason is usually due to scheduling conflicts. Solution; Require that the band and Booking agent use the MidGaLive Music Schedule. Whatever gig is listed first gets that date. This way the band is free to book on their own, and the booking agent doesn't have to worry about conflicts. If the band is unwilling, or too immature to keep this caveat, you probably shouldn't be booking for them anyway.
If a member of the band is busy, or cannot play on a date in question, he can book his band as "Unavailable", "Private Party", or "Practice". This will provide a little advertisement for anyone watching the schedule and inform the rest of the band and booking agent of availability. Any member of the band can post to the schedule, and if he is not available he should list the BAND as not available if the band can't perform without him.
Also, don't forget to discuss 'time' issues with the band. If someone doesn't get off from their 'regular job' until five, don't book them for a gig 50 miles away at 5:30 on a Friday Afternoon. A rushed band is not as prepared as a relaxed one. This is only my suggestion. The decision should be made between you and the band.
3. Fee - Bands need to charge more for travel.  I suggest anything beyond 50 miles gets an extra 1$ per member/per mile. In other words, a solo act performing 55 miles away will be paid $180 instead of $175.....a 3 piece band will be paid $375 instead of $360. Choose a landmark and Google maps to determine the distance to the venue in question. Charge the venue the amount the band agrees to, and you'll make everyone happy.
Everyone involved wants to be paid as much as possible, so find out what the band considers to be their bare minimum before you get started. Later is not the time to find out that you are booking the band too cheap. Get the most possible for your bands and you'll rarely have loyalty issues.
Also, regarding your 15% fee....You might consider offering to the band a discount in your fee for repeat gigs....For example; the first time a band plays at a venue, You charge 15%. Everytime they play there after (for the next year) You only take 10%. Or even as low as 5%.Granted, you need to continue to recieve passive income from the venues you introduce the band to, but the amount is up to you and the band! These are only my suggestions.

4. Promo Materials -find out what the band has available for promo. This may include flyers, demo's, or Press Packs.Use these as needed but be sure you discuss with the band who is responsible for maintaining the stock. These can be a substantial cost to reproduce so someone will need to come out of pocket to provide them. I suggest that the person who can get it done the cheapest be responsible for maintaining the stock and every member of the band plus the booking agent split the cost evenly. All of these decisions should be made between you and the band.

These are only my suggestions, and if I can help you out let me know!!

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