Over time I’ve received quite a few emails and phone calls from readers asking variations on the same questions. I decided to use this issue to try to answer..
I want to travel more and can’t find someone to book me outside of my home area. Do I need a booking agent or a manager? Will a manager help me find an agent?
These are hard questions to answer and yet are probably the most common. I’ll try to give you an idea of how I’ve seen it work.
Let’s assume you are playing original music and trying to make music your career. It comes down to money and time. Agents and managers are in business to make money.
And we are too.
Of course we all want to be artists first but if we can’t pay the bills it gets tough. Let’s consider the role of both, agents and managers.
Fact: A booking agent wants to work with you once you are solidly booked. He or she will then take over the booking schedule and add new dates as they come freeing you up to be the musician.
Most agents aren’t looking to build you as an artist by making tons of phone calls, hoping to get you booked. They want a sure thing so they know their efforts will pay off.
If you have been booking yourself you know about the time commitment involved. So you need to ask yourself, “Am I to the point where
an agent will be interested in me?”
You should expect a booking agent to take 10-20% off the top of all gigs they book.
As with an agent, a manager or management firm wants to be part of a success. Most don’t want to completely build you. They want to see that you have what it takes in terms of talent and commitment before they get involved.
Watch manager Ian Faith work his magic with the band Spinal Tap.
Part of what a manager will do is to help you decide on a booking agent.
They should build a team with you in regards to helping decide the direction of your career. They will help take care of day to day issues such as dealing with your booking agent, interviews, road problems, record label problems.
They should be in the trenches day to day on your behalf leaving you to be the musician.
You should expect to pay your manager 10-15% of the gross earnings. This means gigs, merchandise sales, endorsement deals, etc. Ask yourself, “Are you ready for this?” Do you make enough to afford a manager?
Here is another twist to the question:
Last fall I was in Nashville meeting with Scott Munn of M. Dottore Artist Management. Scott works with Marty Stuart, Shooter Jennings and Kathy Mattea. From the roster you can tell he’s no slouch.
It took me two months to set up a one hour meeting with him and I drove from Norfolk, VA to make it. My time was well spent. I learned a lot.
I asked Scott the same questions about agents and management. Here is what he said:
“Before you worry about finding an agent or manager you should look for a publicist. You need someone to tell your story, to get you in the media. That someone should be a good publicist. Then you just have to live up to what they say about you.” He added with a chuckle, “When that method is working and you’re generating press while touring, agents and managers will find you.”
His advice seems to be working. Thanks, Scott!
What does a publicist cost? Figure on $1000 to $2000 per month for a professional who will give you the attention you are after. Again you need to ask yourself if you are ready for the commitment.
– Mike Aiken