The Decline of the Booking Industry: Building the Missing Tier.

Think it's time to get an agent? You're right.

There comes a point and time in every band’s career when they think they’re in need of a real deal booking agent to handle all of their incoming booking requests and tours. Most of the time they are a little premature in this thought. Let me tell you why.

Book yourself and why.

There is nobody out there who is going to be more passionate about your music than you. That is of course, unless you’re making enough dough to shell out a day’s wage. If you can do that, there are going to be several people willing to be passionate about the countless emails, documents and phone calls it takes to see a gig from cradle to grave. The average independent, original and unsigned band on the road with less than 2 years under their belt will make around $200 to $400 a night on the weekends and even less during the week. That’s if you’re REALLY good. If we’re talking 10 to 15 % for a booking agent, there is very little monetary motivation for someone to stay on top of your calendar.

But what about my buddy over here? He used to book his band. What about the bass player’s girlfriend? She’s smart and can do it in her spare time. My other friend just started his own booking company..

Wait, Wait, Wait..

I can count on my third hand how many times I’ve seen these scenarios work out.That’s right, I don’t have a third hand. Zero times. Everyone who is enamored with music, at one point in his/her life will think they have what it takes to be a booking agent. Truth be told, most people don’t have what it takes. It takes drive and determination, as well as actual experience… Oh and contacts. It also takes contacts. Unless she has these 4 ingredients, your bass player’s’ girlfriend will ultimately fail at her new booking endeavor.

Building the missing tier

The booking industry is missing a specific tier. There are very few entities catering to the $200 – $400 level a night act. There are very few legitimate agencies willing to take the chance on a band with little to no tour history. You as an artist feel you need a booking agent to get over that $400 mark and really attack the road. It’s a catch 22 that many active bands find themselves in.

If you book yourself, you become that missing tier that is needed oh, so badly. You also provide yourself with a possible future when you end up not making a killing playing Dive Bars. One day when you’re old and tired, you’ll have a valuable skill set to fall back on. You’ll also have made lots of friends. I’ve worn all the hats; the band member, the the talent buyer, the promoter, the bartender, the (really bad) sound guy… and I can tell you this much.. It’s way more satisfying in the long run to KNOW the people you are playing for. I’ve seen lifelong friendships formed out of booking a show. These relationships are the very fiber of our musical community and go to the wayside when you have nameless, faceless booking agents on the other end of the email chain. If you don’t believe me, ask Jarrod Starling. Jarrod is a shining example of this theory. Jarrod is front man and businessman for Carrie Nation and The Speakeasy. Through relentless touring, he found himself the guy to go to when you needed a show. This has led him into a great position with Bucket City Booking, perhaps the most hardworking and resourceful agency out there thats breaking their artists into that $500 plus zone..

I’m not speaking out against booking agents at all. They provide a necessary service if you can generate the right cash flow to make it happen. If you can’t? Work. Work hard, then work harder. After that, keep working. Yes it’s gruelling. It’s thankless. It’s boring. It’s also 100% essential to having a music career in today’s independent circuit. In the end, it’s also very rewarding.

Be passionate. Be professional. Be determined. Be the captain of your ship and make your own way. Be that friend that everyone has in the industry. Be your own booking agent.

Jody Hendrix
Little Class Records

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