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How to get your band playing in front of a booking agent

Posted on October 12, 2020

So you’ve played the local circuit. Perhaps you have previously booked your own DIY tour or maybe joined an established artist on a run of dates. You feel like your live set up is on point and you’re ready to perform in front of a booking agent; but how do you do it?

Having had success in achieving this whilst being an independent artist, as well as having first-hand experience of working at a Booking Agency. In this article, I’ll be advising on best practices to maximise your chances of showcasing yourself in front of an agent.

Where do I start?

Much like the rest of the music business, the A&R department from any avenue of the industry acts on two things. Hearing great music and the knowledge that an artist has started to build a team around them. The latter point is frustrating, it’s a chicken or the egg scenario but remember, you have total control over the first point. So crucially - and this should go without saying - make sure that only your best quality songs and recordings represent you online.

Now you’re probably used to looking out for support slots by paying attention to show announcements from your local promoters and venues. Say you’ve spotted a show with a headliner that you feel your project would compliment as part of a bill.  Well, if that show is part of a tour, nine times out of ten that artist will have a booking agent. The best way to find this information out is by looking at the ‘About’ section on the artist’s Facebook page. Let's say hypothetically that you’ve approached the promoter and you’ve been invited onto the bill at your local venue… now it’s crunch time. I’ll let it be known that an Agent will most likely appear at either their artist's hometown show or a show in the city that the agent resides.

What next?

When I was an independent Brighton based artist,  I had undertaken all of the aforementioned steps and as luck would have it, the agent that represented the headline band lived and worked in Brighton. So it was time to reach out. Now agents have very full inboxes, they are busy people and maybe not always looking for an artist to pitch to them. So the best thing you can do is keep your email concise, compliment their roster and attach links with a brief bio in the form of a one-sheet. You, of course, want to invite them down to the show also! Whilst you may not hear back right away, you can be sure that the invitation would have been received.  If you haven’t heard anything back a week before the show then a polite follow up won’t hurt. And that just so happened to be how my independent band ended up playing in front of a booking agent.

Where do booking agents look?

Some years later I would end up working for that very same agency and became involved in scouting and A&R co-ordinating. What I can say is that finding new talent is always at the forefront of an agents mind and they have many streams in which they keep across new and emerging talent.  The most important of which are networking with industry contacts, listening to BBC Introducing, Emerging Talent Spotify Playlists and reading independent music press.

Having a booking agent want to work with you will open a lot of doors and could be the catalyst that enables you to quickly have an entire team around you. They are the gatekeepers to good shows, tours and that all-important show guarantee fee. So when you do catch wind of an agent who wants to come and check you out… do. not. waste. that. opportunity! Rehearse four times more than you ever would and make your friends, family and fans understand the importance of their attendance. An agent will only come and see you once, so if you’re opening and playing to an empty room then I’m afraid you will witness them walk out the venue as you perform. And no one wants that, do they?!

By josh.rowley

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