If you’ve watched any music award show ever, you would have most probably heard a crying artist thank their ‘team’ whilst tightly clutching their award. But, who is this ‘team’? What do they actually do? From the biggest stars to the most DIY artists, your team will be THE most important people who should work to guide and support your career. In the first of a multiple part series, we are going to breakdown the key members you should start to think about making connections with (in no particular order).
This week, we will begin with live agents:
Who Are They?
Sometimes called a Live Agent, Booking Agent, Music Agent or Talent Agent, your ‘agent’ will be the person who is in charge of booking shows for you. Alongside making the show happen, they can also work with a promoter to make sure you have everything you need at the venue (e.g. equipment, sound check, backstage rirder etc). Often, these guys work closely with you as an artist, your management and/or the event promoters to confirm your availability/schedule, book shows in the gaps you have and then accommodate your show/s, leading onto the collection of monies from the promoters for your slot (i.e. the people paying for shows).
Some examples of well known booking agencies are:
What do they do?
Agents approach promoters and negotiate your live contracts, working to ‘put on’ your live show or tour. Depending on what you have going on as an artist, the roles of a live agent differ. At its most generic, live agents work out the logistical requirements of a tour or show, pitch you to promoters, venues and bands for slots and arrange your contracts, riders, equipment and any quest list you may have. Agents also represent artists for specific territories which are usually split into Europe (EU), Asia, Australia, New Zealand (ANZ), North America (NA) and South America (SA). Therefore, depending on how big you are, you will often need more than one agent.
When should I get one?
Live agents may approach you quite early on in your career, usually following on from you hiring PR or management, as often (but not always) artists are referred to live agents through management. Sometimes, you will have an agent way before any type of deal. It’s quite uncommon for an artist to approach a live agent and it is therefore advised that a live agent should always approach you first, as the agent will have more of a vested interest in you and your music, and showing promising signs of being active and engaged when working for you. If unmanaged, you should think about getting a lawyer before an agent, which can then aid the process especially when it comes to contracts. Also, for our international Spinnup artists, it’s actually illegal for managers to act as agents (and vice versa) in California and New York etc.
How much do I pay?
Live agents take a 10%-15% cut/commission of your live earnings (if you make any). These live earnings are limited to the actual fee for your slot and no other income like merch sales. Notably, many agents work on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ (i.e. no contract), but we’d strongly suggest getting everything you can in writing, and restrict the duration of your deal to at maximum two years whilst setting some form of bench line goal during your working relationship. For example, the agent has to secure a set amount of shows or, has to secure certain types of shows/bills.
Do I need them?
If you want to effectively promote your music whilst having increased chances of performing live, then yes, you will need a booking agent. You may not need a live agent now, but, if you get a good one, you have a better opportunity to play in front of bigger audiences than you would booking your own gigs (as some venues and festivals won’t even look at artists without these on your team). Often, these members of the team can be difficult to secure, but it’s worth is as building your fan base through live shows can be much more fruitful if you have a good booking agent on hand to make sure to maximise the output of any live opportunity.
There you have it, that’s a live agent in a nutshell! Overall, it’s important to assess where you are in your career and what are your actual goals when it comes to playing live before committing to a live agent. Now start putting yourself out there and playing live, and don’t be too shy to invite some live agents to your show! Keep a lookout for the next instalment of Building Your Team where we’ll be talking to you about lawyers…