fair or festival entertainment booking

Do You Need a Music Booking Agency?

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Do I need a music booking agency is a question often asked by those new or inexperienced with the music industry? Can I do it myself? Can I book my musical act into venues that can make me successful? Can I book entertainers directly for my club, theater, fair, festival, corporate event or private party? Can I pass on using a “middle man” to help me make it happen? Can I make more money if I don’t use a music booking agency?

These are all good questions. The answer falls into that category called “it depends.”

Whether it’s a solo artist, band, venue owner or talent buyer, it’s the music booking agency that’s positioned to help them both realize what’s best for them. Entertainment booking agencies provide services to touring artists that are incredibly helpful, but also can provide venues and individuals with the help they need in seeking entertainment for their corporate events, parties, galas, clubs, concerts or nighttime entertainment.

Let start by defining what a music booking agency does and what a music booking agency doesn’t do.

A music booking agency is not a promotion agency. It’s true that a good music booking agency can connect venues with talent based on their relationship with talent buyers as well as the reputation of the agency. That means that in many cases, the  agency can get artists into venues that they cannot get into themselves no matter how hard they try. While that’s all well and good, the music booking agency must assure that the entertainers are professional and will meet the needs of the talent buyer and put fans into seats at their venue.

It’s also true that talent buyers might be able get entertainers they want through a music booking agency that they can’t get themselves for one reason or another. Typically, three reasons are behind this ability. The first is again about relationships. In this case the relationship may be between the agency and the artist’s management or between the music booking agency and the artist’s exclusive booking agent. The second is that the music booking agency leverages its relationship and booking history to get a price that fits the talent buyer’s budget. A third reason is that the booking agency may be able to book routing gigs to get the entertainer’s fee within the buyer’s budget.

It’s not true that having a music booking agency will get you bookings when there isn’t a demand for the artist. Unfortunately, it’s a very common belief among artists that if they get a booking agency, they will have all the gigs they want. They think that an entertainment booking agency can take them to the “next” level, no matter what level they are at presently.

They don’t understand. Their perspective that a music booking agency will get them entertainment booking into bigger venues where they will get exposure and build a fan base.  The talent buyer for the venue’s perspective is 180 degrees opposite. They expect the entertainer’s current fan base to come out and fill their venue. They depend on the previous draws and the artist’s fan base and social media to make their decision as to whether to book the band. Of course, if the artist is being played in the local radio market, that’s a big positive in the decision process.

This differing perspective is the reason artists bug their booking agents about why they aren’t being booked more. It’s understandable given their perspective. They essentially hired a music booking agency to get them bookings, irrespective of the fact that there is no demand for them.

Artists sometime confuse the role of a booking agency with the role of management. Management is responsible for all the issues involving their artists, including promoting them and building a fan base, including a large presence on social media. It’s upon that cornerstone, that booking occurs.

Now that doesn’t mean that a music booking agency sits idly by waiting for the phone to ring. Good entertainment booking agencies spend time on the phone touting their acts. They also carry out email and trade show promotions as well.

A talented artist with the right management will allow a booking agency to be successful in booking the entertainer and getting them to that next level. It could mean turning a regional artist into a national touring artist or booking them into larger and more prominent venues or both.

While a music booking agency should be doing the above, artists need to understand that promotion and building a fan base is the responsibility of the artist and their management. If they are fortunate enough to have a record label, the label should be very involved in promotion as well.

An entertainment booking agency can be key for a talent buyer or venue being successful as well. There are several scenarios when working with a music booking agency can make a big difference in the caliber of the talent bought.  Be they first time or onetime events for private parties, corporate occasions, fundraising events, festivals, concerts, etc. getting the help of a good music booking agency will solve a lot of issues for the buyer. When the buyer is unsophisticated, it’s essential that they employ the services of a sophisticated booking agency.

TSE works with venues to be their ongoing talent buyer to put the best acts into their venue on a regular basis. A good music booking agency will find the right artist that will meet their needs with a band that will entertain, sell the tickets they need and at the price they want. Another reason for a venue to use a agency to book their talent is to have an sustaining process of evaluating and booking good entertainers for their venue.

People on all sides of the music industry benefit from the work that booking agencies do. Band members benefit from the exposure and the saved time TSE offers.  Venues benefit by being offered fresh acts to draw crowds to their businesses, and music fans benefit by having a central and accessible way of finding that perfect band for live music entertainment. By the way, in most cases  a music booking agency will pay for themselves by saving the buyer resources and money.

As an entertainment booking agency, TSE exceeds expectations. That’s why TSE has clients returning year after year, some for close to 30 years. You don’t get repeat buyers year after year by being average. After all, we’ve been booking entertainers since 1975.

Related Posts:

Entertainment Booking Agencies: Middle Man and Much More

Music Booking Agency: Some Traits to Look For

7 Questions You Should Ask Any Entertainment Booking Agency

About the author

Picture of Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Robert M. Brecht, PhD.

Doctor Bob brings a diverse background in production, marketing, and business management to his position as Managing Partner of TSE Entertainment. His responsibilities include overseeing TSE’s services other than talent booking. He also manages the marketing and business operations side of TSE.
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