Throughout their career, artists will come across many people who help to raise the profile of their music and grow their following. Enter the great music booking agent. This individual or group help artists reach stardom through organising live performances and helping to create a buzz about their artists’ event.
Nowadays, most things are happening online and given the COVID pandemic, more services have shifted to the digital world. However, nothing beats performing or seeing your favourite artist perform live.
This is what makes the role of the music booking agent so important.
In the music industry, a music booking agent is responsible for booking live music performances. This could be for tours, festival performances, radio gigs, and so on.
They mainly work with artists, bands and musicians and act as a salesperson on behalf of their clients. Agents also handle the process of negotiating performance contracts and approaching promoters about upcoming gigs.
Ultimately, a booking agent can propel your career into stardom through scoring new performance opportunities. They can also help by growing your fanbase and following through networking with other key players in the music industry.
Agents generally hold a roster or regular management contacts. However, there are always opportunities for younger artists as opening slots regularly become available.
Booking agents usually charge a 10-15% commission fee for the performances they book. However, some may also charge a standard flat fee (it’s best to avoid these agents). Most agents work for a music booking company or agency, although it is possible to be a freelance booking agent working in the business.
When looking for the right booking agent, the success of the agency and/or the number of clients they have are key indicators.
We have made a list of some of the best booking agents in 2020, who have gotten many artists off to a flying start in their music career. Keep reading to find out…
AM Only’s Lee Anderson is probably one of the most well-known booking agents working in North America. He has booked and continues to book some of the biggest names.
Artists such as Rudimental, Zedd, Normani and Skrillex are just a few examples of the high-profile clients that he has booked.
Anderson has also orchestrated tours like Dirtybird BBQ, Full Flex Express, and Disclosure’s Wildlife.
He is also overseeing the growth of the hip-hop roster at Paradigm, one of the biggest music talent agencies in the US. Here, he individually represents artists including Gucci Mane, MadeinTYO and London On Da Track in the space.
He continues to sign, book and develop breakthrough artists. Recently, he has added Whethan, Berhana, and Westside Gunn & Conway to his list of artists. There’s no doubt these artists will be filling up stadiums and concert halls in no time!
Although Creative Artists Agency (CAA) work in many areas of the music industry from artist management to sourcing the right producers for artists, their booking agents are responsible for helping to grow some of the biggest names in music right now. That list includes Meghan Trainer, Maroon 5, The Eagles and One Direction.
Under CAA’s management, groups such as One Direction have brought in over $500 million. Looking to make it big in the pop industry? Definitely get in touch with the booking agents at CAA. Their offices span worldwide, including London & Los Angeles.
Now Co-Head of Music at Paradigm Talent Agency, Corrie Christopher Martin has booked the likes of Janet Jackson, Shawn Mendes and David Guetta.
Christopher Martin’s main focus is now to amplify underrepresented voices through her experience in the concert industry. She is also the chair of the LoveLoud festival and on the executive board of the LoveLoud Foundation.
Paradigm Talent Agency has offices located all over the US and an office in London. However, they have booked artists from all over the world!
Now is the time to get in touch with the team at Paradigm.
ICM have booked shows for a range of talents – from comedians to theatre stars. However, their impressive history of booking Hip-Hop and R&B stars is what has made their booking agents so sought after.
Major solo tour deals featuring Fetty Wap, Quavo and Kendrick Lamar were all negotiated by ICM Partners.
Kehlani, another artist that has worked with ICM, recently toured around 30 cities and sold out almost every single one! Add ICM to your list of music booking agents to reach out to if you are an aspiring R&B or Hip-Hop artist.
Click here to search for and find the right ICM booking agent for you.
In the company’s own words:
“We represent top artists in every major music category and book more than 30,000 dates globally – from international tours and festivals to corporate, college and private events.”
This company, who have booked artists such as Calvin Harris, Sam Smith and Adele, has gone through a series of mergers and acquisitions over the last decade. This has resulted in them becoming a powerhouse with a global presence.
William Morris Endeavours currently represent over 1000 bands in Europe. They also have partnerships with festivals and concert organisers, making the process of booking their artists easier.
Another primarily European-focused booking agent, Primary Talent specialises in gigs in major cities for DJs, Hip-Hop, Rap, Electronic and other contemporary pop artists.
With its headquarters in London, artists such as Stormzy, Dave and Lana Del Rey are just a few artists that Primary Talent are responsible for booking. Primary Talent also helps to organise small festivals around the UK and other major cities to help raise their artists’ profiles.
Founder of Red Light Management in 1991 in Charlottesville, Coran Capshaw helped the careers of many artists flourish. Although mainly achieved through concert deals, Capshaw’s mission is to develop sustainable careers and long-lasting legacies for the artists he is representing. Some of these include Chris Stapleton, Phish and Dave Matthews Band.
Red Light Management is now one of the largest independent music management companies in the world. They also focus on booking rock artists, so if this is your sound, get in touch with Red Light Management!
Founded in 2007 by Jonny Shipes, Cinematic Music Group is behind booking artists such as Mick Jenkins and Joey Bada$$. This independent record label is also a touring company, allowing for a more streamlined process of organising tours for their artists.
Since Cinematics founding, Shipes has been determined to give his artists total creative control; a concept heavily valued by musicians and music listeners alike.
Most websites for booking agents have a section where you can directly submit your music. Simply search for a booking agent, and send your music to the person or company you are interested in.
Thoroughly do your research before sending your music to booking agencies. Many artists make the mistake of sending their demo to every booking agency out there. Imagine sending a heavy metal demo to a classical music agent… not a good idea at all!
A good starting point is finding music booking agents that work with artists that have a similar sound to you. We might have already listed a few contacts to give you a rolling start!
Playing live is also crucial in helping you get a booking agent – it makes the job a whole lot easier for them! If an artist already has built up a live following and has experience performing, the process of pitching this artist will be a lot easier than negotiating a booking deal with a completely unknown artist.
Booking agents may also be lurking in the crowd at open mic nights and amateur concerts scoping out potential artists for bigger venues. If your performances were filmed, these videos can also be used by booking agents to help market and create buzz leading up to your next gig.
Becoming an opener is also a way to get yourself seen by booking agents. Chances are the booking agents, as well as promoters and music managers for the artist(s) you are opening for, will be there. Again, this will make it a whole lot easier as booking agents will already know your performance style and stage presence.
If you are finding it difficult to get gigs, try organising gigs or working with artists in the local music scene to put on a small show. Either way, speaking to local venue owners is key. Creating an organic buzz will also help when pitching to booking agents, and a proven track record is crucial.
Putting on concerts will also help you build your own network of artists to collaborate or tour with in the future.
Keeping active online is also key. Remember, a range of artists from Justin Bieber to Adele were discovered through music content they had posted online. Regularly posting your music on social media and music platforms gives booking agents a wealth of material to use when it comes to pitching you for a gig.
Even if you have reached out to all the booking agents on your list and haven’t heard anything back, there is no harm in getting in touch again. Leave it a few weeks or a month, then get in touch with new music or soundtracks from your most recent project. Just don’t bombard music booking agents with music every day.
This acts as your musical resume, and usually takes the form of a website or online profile. Your music is the most important part of your EPK, so ensure your best songs are listed at the top of your page or on the homepage of your website.
Also include band/artist images, a biography, links to social media accounts, websites, news articles that mention yourself, and contact details.
Ensure that your EPK is in line and consistent with your music brand. The images and videos in your digital resume should be high quality and display professionalism, as well as your unique tone.
Videos of live shows also allow agents to see you in action and make the decision to contact you about potential shows.
Build a showcase/website with us right here at Music Gateway for free!
Finding the perfect booking agent can be a big challenge.
The competition is fierce, and the process can be frustrating. It can be upsetting when sending out email after email, waiting for someone to respond or sign you up for the next biggest concert.
However, following the advice laid out here will prepare you for approaching music booking companies, and enhance your chances of being approached yourself. Most booking agents will simply not reply to artists. However, if you do receive feedback from booking agents about why they can’t add you, make note of this and see what you can improve upon.
Make sure to document key aspects of your career, i.e. receiving a great review from another artist or completing your first DIY tour. These events are great for your EPK, socials and to talk about booking agents. Events such as these will help you land an agent, strike a booking deal and eventually sell out shows!
Don’t forget to be targeted with your approach to booking agents. This will save yourself and the booking agent a lot of time. The right booking agents will be much more likely to actually pay attention to your songs.
So, now you are all clued up on Music Booking Agents, allow us to help you amplify your music and help with music marketing. You can also collaborate with others, and get your music in TV, film and more. Why not try Music Gateway for free?