An Idiot’s Guide to Promoting Your Band on the Internet: Part 3
The first two blogs in this series dealt with how you can start your band on the right foot and how you can get gigs out of town. Once you start racking up a few out of town shows you might realise that some of the bands you are playing with are getting riders, dressing rooms, hell – they might even be getting paid more than petrol money, what’s going on? Well these lucky bands, my friends, are in cahoots with booking agents.
Love them or hate them, booking agents can make or break a band. A booking agents job, primarily, is to help fill up a bands tour schedule and to negotiate a good fee for their artist.
As a musician, you’ll probably know that these can be some of the suckiest parts of playing in a band. Most band members will try and wriggle out of asking the promoter for their petrol money at the end of the night; especially when he or she is a really cool and you’re pretty confident that they’ve lost money booking your band. Well, most booking agents will require a promoter to return a contract before they confirm a show so it won’t reflect bad on you when get paid (and rest assured promoters both hate and fear agents in equal proportions so they will pay you.)
All this might sound great but booking agents aren’t for everyone. For every story of a band that thrives on an agency there’s a band that hated it. It might be that they couldn’t choose their own support acts, they could only play approved shows, their agent booked them a bad tour or they might have got left behind when a fresher, younger act came along.
It also depends on what your motivations are. Not every band wants stardom, some don’t even want to tour, but if you are looking for better shows, guaranteed pay and better promotion then a booking agent can help – but only if you can get one.
We spoke in the last blog about working of a demand and how you shouldn’t be playing shows unless you know that people really want to see you play. The same goes for booking agents. 9/10 times, approaching an agent yourself is a waste of your time, they should be approaching you.
The Cold Truth
There are two things that you need to know about (good) booking agents, one is that they are incredibly well connected people and the other is that they need to make money.
Agents are either self-employed or they work for a larger agency, which means, they need to pay the bills or they need to keep their boss happy. Just being a good band, unfortunately isn’t enough. You need to be a great band, with a following, that is consistently packing out shows wherever you play. If an agent decides to work with you then they will eventually need a return on their investment – they won’t take your word for it, which is why they work on recommendations.
Agents attend conferences, industry events, workshops, gigs and festivals in an effort to build their little black books and stay connected with the industry. If your band is making a buzz – they’ll know about you. No matter how many times you e-mail them or post them CD’s, until you get on their radar organically – through a recommendation, they aren’t going to listen.
We aren’t speaking from some high privileged position either; we’ve all been in bands that have been enticed by the idea of chasing a booking agent and we’ve been ignored or haven’t been doing enough to convince them that we will make a good investment of their time. At best it can distract you from what you should be focusing on and at worst it can totally demoralise you. So, instead of chasing the quick fix, focus on the things that you really can control which are writing great songs and playing great gigs. Do it properly and the rest will follow.
Part 4 on Press Releases and PR coming soon….