As artistic talent returns to the stage, it’s a great time to look into how to start a booking agency. Not only can you help connect talent with venues to keep the return of the arts flowing, but you can earn a profit working in the industry you love.
Booking agents act as the middleman between artists and venues. The agents represent the artists and secure event dates with venues. If you’re booking new talent, you’ll be looking to book opening gigs and club performances. More prominent artists will require tour dates and large events. For all your clients, you’ll be responsible for negotiating fees and contracts for each event.
With the arts re-emerging post-Covid and concertgoers eagerly purchasing tickets to experience live performances again, it’s a great time to get in the game. But where to start? How can software tools help you be more efficient, organized and profitable? Let’s explore the steps you’ll need to take to launch your incredible booking agency.
How to Start a Booking Agency
First things first, you have to build your brand. What kind of artists are you looking to represent? Starting with a narrower scope helps you focus on building essential relationships. As you gain experience, you can branch out, but it’s best to start with a niche.
Your location might influence your brand as well. For example, if you live in Nashville, it’s going to be relatively easy to build a roster of up-and-coming country singer-songwriters.
Once you’ve put together a brand kit, you’ll want to take care of the paperwork to make your agency a legal entity. For now, you’ll likely be safe starting with an LLC. But you may want to talk to a legal representative before moving forward. You’ll also need to see whether your state requires specific permits, licensing, and bonding.
Once your business is officially registered, you can open a business checking account and create your marketing package. You may want to create a website, business cards, professional social media accounts, and more. At this point, you may want to hire a freelance graphic designer to craft a logo if you don’t have one already.
Have your rates set before you begin reaching out to artists to bring them on to your roster. Booking agents are generally paid a percentage of the proceeds from the events they schedule for their artists. In short, you don’t get paid until you get your artists gigs. Most booking agents are paid around 10-15%, but more prominent agents can earn up to 20%. If you’re entirely new to artist booking, you’ll want to start on the lower end of the commission rates.
If you want to be prepared for your first client, you can choose your scheduling and organizing platform and become familiar with offer generation, if your platform offers it.
Now you can move on to the fun part.
Things to Know Before You Start a Booking Agency
The idea of having your own music booking agency sounds glamorous, but it’s not all rock and roll all the time. Now that you know how to start a booking agency, you have to reflect on whether this is the right path for you.
Before you start your booking agency, it’s crucial to know the tasks that go into building your business. After all, you are a small business owner now.
Once you start a booking agency, your life is all about marketing and fostering relationships. You’ll have to market yourself to artists to convince them to hire you. Then you’ll have to build relationships with venues to get your artists gigs.
The more clients you have, the more money you’ll make, but the more balls you’ll have to keep up in the air as you juggle multiple venues and events. Investing in a software program that can help you keep everything organized and give you access to the documents you need while you’re on the go will make this process simple and streamlined.
While some people find luck posting in newspapers or on social media about open call auditions for a booking agency, you might have more success going to local performing spaces to scout talent. Even if you don’t end up adding a specific artist to your roster, you’ll always need to be polite to the people you schmooze with. (You never know who will own a hip venue someday.)
As soon as you have artists on your roster and have built relationships with some venue managers, you’ll be ready to schedule performances. You’ll explore every avenue that showcases talent like your artist—local companies, restaurants, bars, theaters, community organizations, and more.
As you grow, you’ll have the chance to add more people to your team, find new artists, and expand your reach. Keep your marketing materials updated so people come to recognize you as a reliable booking agent in your niche and beyond. Before you know it, people will be begging to get on your roster.
Getting Started with Your Booking Agency
Outside of the legal aspects, learning how to start a booking agency is all about your interactions with others.
How to Find Artists and Venues
Scout artists by attending open mic nights, writers’ rounds, competitions, and other performance events. You can even look for people on YouTube or TikTok. You can also encourage artists to come to you by creating a website with plenty of SEO content, advertising on social media, placing ads in the local newspaper, posting flyers, and sending out brochures.
Your website and social media accounts will also come in handy as you start to reach out to venues. Get a business card with all of your information, then create a list of the venues in your area. You can go meet the venue’s owners or managers and introduce yourself. Give them your card, but also ask if you can connect with them via social media, such as LinkedIn.
Developing Artist and Venue Relationships
As we said before, it’s essential to be polite to everyone you encounter. Your reputation is everything in this industry, and word travels quickly. Do everything you can to avoid messy gigs, communication breakdowns, and unnecessary conflicts. If something does come up, it’s your job to provide the fire extinguisher quickly and calmly.
As you gain more clients on your roster, staying on top of your schedule will be imperative. Using a cloud-based calendar enables you to take your show dates with you as you meet with your artists or venue representatives.
Having all of your agreements written down will help you keep track of decisions and provide you with a safety net in case something goes wrong. Create contracts between you and your artists and between you and venues for specific events and everything in between. Have a secure place to store those documents to make settlements easy and efficient.
Build Your Booking Agency Today
If you think you have what it takes to be an elite booking agent, you just need the tools to help you keep everything in order. Juggling your various contracts and schedules can be daunting, but it’s imperative that you do it well. The solution? A powerful software specifically designed for booking agents by live music professionals.
Consolidate your calendar, contracts, and spreadsheets into one easy-to-use platform that will make running your agency a breeze. Prism provides a cloud-based system that you can take anywhere and update in real-time. You’ll be able to work efficiently and provide a seamless experience for your clients. Discover how Prism will take your start-up booking agency to the enterprise level in just a few clicks.