The post is from the perspective of a country artist in the importance of having a country music booking agency. As someone who has lived the life of a touring country music band, my experiences may be valuable to others going down that road. TSE Entertainment is frequently approached by new country bands who think that getting a booking agency to take them on is all they need to get lots of gigs. They think that getting signed by a country music booking agency is the be all, end all. Well, it’s not. First, no booking agency of any worth will sign an unknown band without a significant fan base and booking demand in the first place.
When I started my band many years back, the first thing I did was recruit my best friend to play lead guitar. He was not qualified but was a decent rhythm player like me and had the desire to learn how to play lead. Whew! What an assignment I threw him. Time marched on and during our musical careers, he became an excellent lead guitarist. We also wrote many notable songs together. The memories created on this adventure will last a lifetime.
Our basic game plan was simple: Get a few gigs per month, have fun, split the money, try to improve, and get better bookings. There was little aspiration of how to take our music and performances to a higher level, plus we knew nothing of how to do it.
We started playing small clubs then graduated to dance halls and occasional corporate gigs and private parties. We had built a fan base and venues that liked us which generated return bookings. As we got more popular we soon found out that booking entertainment on your own can be a very difficult task and within a few years we finally figured out…. We need a Country Music Booking Agency!
A Country Music Booking Agency Has the Connections
Established booking agencies have developed relationships with many different venues, talent buyers and related companies. This not only helps with bookings, but local production needs such as big sound and lighting if needed, as well as staging, ticketing, security and so on.
If you have the desire, the drive, the talent, and the passion to play, write, or perform music, then you must learn the business side of the music industry. Organize a band and begin your music career, but learn the following, especially the BOOKING AGENT PART.
- Start locally and build a fan base and expand outward to a more regional band.
- Create a brand and use social media extensively and engage your fans at every turn. Here’s a primer to begin your search for on online music promotion services.
- Remember that development and promotion is primarily a management responsibility. Too many artists think that it’s a booking agency function. A booking agency is responsible for bookinglive performances including concerts, gigs, tours and radio and TV performances. They may also help in developing their clientele’s career about their live performances, including things like stage presence, audience engagement, sound and lighting, attitudes, etc. They are not country promotion agencies.
- When you have developed your brand; have a large regional fan base; and clubs that keep inviting you back, then you can approach a country music booking agency about taking you on.
- The agency will need a Promotional Kit, EPK (Electronic Press Kit) plus a One Sheet which is a thumbnail look at you or your band including booking contact information. If you don’t have one, they can help guide you in getting what they need for booking your band.
Country music booking agencies expect help from their acts. Try to get your friends and family involved in the beginning. Let them check you out and give their opinions. You won’t always like what they say, but you need a sounding board and a cheering section. Remember that club owners you are working for like unfamiliar faces in the audience. Always remember, they are primarily interested in the “bottom line” or how much business you brought in the door. If you are playing at a bar, you’re also in the beer business. If you’re playing at a restaurant, you’re also in the food business, and so on. You are expected to boost the bottom line of the venue that hired your band.
Most venues have a few “regulars” they can count on, but it’s part of your job to help bring in new customers. If the owners see you really putting forth an effort to bring in more customers, the club owners will think of you more favorably when it comes to getting repeat bookings. As your popularity grows the owners will treat you better and better, including on the money side. Booking Agency’s are counting on you doing this. Get to know your fans. Country music is the genre that is super fan friendly.
You must be disciplined to succeed and always remind yourself – “If It were easy, everybody would be doing it.” Bands, whether seasoned or just starting, MUST REHEARSE!! If you have members that feel they don’t need to practice – replace them with someone who will. This applies to all genres of music including Country Music. Your survival is based on how good you sound. Trust me – without regular rehearsals you will be limited. Your booking Agency will drop you like a Hot Potato if all these suggestions are not followed. Set times for rehearsal and be firm on promptness. This goes for the gigs as well. The quickest way to lose a gig is by being late.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg concerning what it takes to carve out a career in country music. Personally, I can’t stress how much a good country booking agency can do for you when you are ready. I put in my dues in country music for a few years and established myself as an artist in demand. At that point my band was finally picked up by Texas Sounds Entertainment, which is now TSE Entertainment. Having the participation of a country music booking agency changed my career. At long last I started getting the gigs and money that put a BIG OL’ SMILE on my face. I just can’t say enough about good entertainment booking agencies.