It has been the common thinking that in order to become a successful artist, one needs a booking agent. A booking agent, through his connections and knowledge of the industry will jump-start your career and lead you places that you wouldn’t be able to access on your own. But is this common knowledge really true? Many very successful artists have been known to be self-managed and, let’s face it, most booking agents you see these days have something shady about them. Just like with anything, there are both pros and cons in using a booking agent to forward your career.
A booking agent, usually referred to as ‘talent agent’, is the person in charge of booking your shows, appearances and handling your promotion and marketing. Whether you are a band or a solo act, a booking agent can help you by taking care of some administrative and paperwork tasks for you, leaving you more time to focus on yourself and your product. Just like any service you receive, the services of an agent certainly aren’t free; usually the agent will take a cut out of the revenues you generate, whether from a live show, guest appearance or other. Experienced agents might certainly have connections in the industry that can help you, have people who owe them favours that can turn out to be a favour for you, indirectly. Agents certainly can be useful, from a time management standpoint. Without having to deal with management, promotion, marketing, booking and scheduling, you are left with all the time in the world to polish your songs, work on your music and develop yourself as an artist.
Even though the idea of being managed seems ideal, for many bands and artists looking to start their career, the services of an agent might seem like an expense they can spare. Booking agents do nothing that you cannot do yourself; booking shows can be done easily by anyone, perseverant self-promotion can go a long way and you’ll feel better not having to split your salary with your ‘manager’. Most successful artists never get an agent before they actually get signed to their label, which then starts handling all of the above tasks. This goes without saying, any band or artist can survive and start a healthy musical career without necessarily needing the services of an agent.
The last word is up to you. It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of hiring an agent for yourself or your group and then decide which solution is best for you, your interest, your music and your budget.