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On Booking Agents

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Following the last Cooler Clinic with a Focus on Bookings, here are some top tips and resource articles to support you in getting bookings and agents

Do you need a Booking Agent/Manager?

Do you have enough gigs/tours yet for it to be worthwhile for an agent to take you on?

Or currently is what you need: better overall time-management and strategy/a virtual assistant/a publicist/cleaner/meal delivery/childcare/more family or partner support to free up your time to be your own Manager and Booking Agent?

According to research conducted by Matt Fripp, over 50% of jazz bookings are taking place directly with the artist - without an agent.

Why would a Booking Agent take you on?

Put yourself in their shoes - consider how many pitches from talented gigging artists that they receive, and what would be deciding factors for them - artistically and otherwise. What's in it for them? How will their costs be covered off the bat?

Being your own booking agent:

Many successful jazz and improvising musicians do not have a booking agent (or manager, or label) - but they do have strategy!

  • Have your ducks in a row (EPK, up to date and active website and socials). Get the basics right, consistently. Make the booking experience as user-friendly and as easy as possible for bookers (no drip-feeding information - utilise Google Drive Folders etc). Don't give bookers a reason not to book you. Sometimes chasing info/confirmation during crunch time results in artists being relegated to the "too hard basket".
  • Is your branding engaging, cohesive, consistent across the board?
  • Make sure your act is amazing live and consider every element including audience interaction and the time between tunes (including tuning). Include live video in your EPK.
  • Build a buzz, find clever ways to go viral through socials and non-traditional/interactive invitations.
  • Attend gigs, festivals, conferences etc. and make sure to start to build a relationship and rapport with bookers over time. Real life connections go much further than cold-calling. Distribute business cards and CDs but be suave.
  • Offer comps (complimentary tickets) for important/bigger gigs to booking agents and venue/festival bookers. And if you do so, make sure to get bums-in-seats by any means.
  • Why should the venue/festival book you? Let them know if you are you similar to their recent acts XYZ, and have a track record of drawing a crowd in that locale.
  • Don't take rejections personally. It's a numbers game.
  • Always follow-up and keep in touch.
  • No response doesn’t mean “no” and often “no” means “not at this time”.
  • Consider hiring a publicist (remember you can include these types of expenses in your grant and funding budgets).

When you're ready for an agent:

(usually when you have more international bookings than you can manage, especially as there few booking agents working in jazz in Ireland so you may need to seek an international agent)

  • First utilise your networks to get recommended to an agent.
  • Reach out to agents who have artists similar (but different) to you on their roster and draw parallels for the agent (e.g. audience demographic, venues you play, style/genre, but also draw attention to your USP)
  • Google similar artists who are a few steps ahead - often their agency is on their contact page.
  • Many agents attend the jazzahead! trade fair every year. Registration gives you access to agent details in the delegate portal and from there you can set up meetings at jazzahead! with agents (make sure to start this at least 5 months in advance).
  • Further list of agencies:
  • Always follow-up and keep in touch.

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