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Music Industry

Booking Agent: What Is A Music Booking Agent?

Photograph of the blog post author, Joelle Banton

Joelle Banton

18.5.2023

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What is a booking agent and why you need one

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 by organizing live performances and helping to create a buzz about their artists’ event. 

This is what makes the role of the music booking agent so important.

The Role Of A Booking Agent

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 will act as a salesperson on behalf of their clients. Agents also handle the process of negotiating performance contracts, phone calls to venue managers, festivals and gigs, and approaching promoters about upcoming gigs. 

Ultimately, a booking agent can propel your career into stardom by scoring new performance opportunities

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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 entry-level artists as opening slots regularly become available.

How Do Booking Agents Work & How Much Do They Cost?

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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 careers. Keep reading to find out…

The Best Booking Agents To Check Out & Pitch To

MN2S

MN2S stands as one of the foremost independent booking agencies globally. Its success is rooted in an extensive network of connections and a diverse lineup of established and emerging artists, DJs, celebrities, sports personalities, and record labels.

The origins of MN2S trace back to 1995, when Sharron Elkabas, David Elkabas, and Tim Burnett organized their inaugural club nights in London. The foundation of the company was built upon their shared passion for music and their vision to establish the brand as a symbol of excellence in international house music.

After more than two decades, MN2S has not only achieved these initial aspirations but also broadened its vision to become synonymous with the finest music, talent, and live entertainment worldwide. The relentless pursuit of this vision persists, evident in their establishment of a talent division in 2013, followed by the opening of a US office and the launch of their PR and Programming divisions in 2018.

Corrie Christopher Martin

Paradigm Talent Agency booking agent

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.

Lee Anderson

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! 

Creative Artists Agency

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? Get in touch with the booking agents at CAA. Their offices span worldwide, including London & Los Angeles.

ICM Partners 

ICM has 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.  

William Morris Endeavour Entertainment 

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, which has 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 Endeavors currently represent over 1000 bands in Europe. They also have partnerships with festivals and concert organizers, making the process of booking their artists easier.

Primary Talent

Primary Talent logo

Another primarily European-focused booking agent, Primary Talent specializes 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 is responsible for the booking. Primary Talent also helps to organize small festivals around the UK and other major cities to help raise their artists’ profiles.

Coran Capshaw

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

Cinematic Music Group

Cinematic Music Group artists image

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 organizing 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. 

How Do You Get A Booking Agent And Why You Need One

playing live image booking agent

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 demos 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!

How Playing Live Can Help

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.

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Extra Tips for Choosing a Booking Agent

If you are finding it difficult to get gigs, try organizing gigs with 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 was 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.

Your Electronic Press Kit (EPK)

laptop and mobile image music booking agent

Creating an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is also a crucial step in gaining a booking agent. If you need help with this, speak to our team at MG here

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 Мusic Gateway for free!

Conclusion & Final Advice On Booking Agent

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 talking 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 you and the booking agent a lot of time. The right booking agents will be much more likely to actually pay attention to your songs.


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