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What does a Booking Agent do?

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  • Written By: Mitch Morgan
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
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When a performer needs assistance finding a job, or taking an act or concert "on tour", a booking agent may be considered to handle arrangements related to the venture. Also known as a talent agent, a booking agent may act as liaison between the act and venue operators. He or she locates jobs or "gigs" for his client, and helps to ensure that contractual obligations are met on both ends. Clients may include musicians, bands, models, actors, comedians, and others in the entertainment field. Although agreements may vary, a booking agent is usually paid a percentage of the money his or her client receives for any job or gig arranged by the agent. A booking agent may work on an independent basis, finding clients on his own, or may be part of an agency, working with other agents to establish relations with a larger, broader spectrum of clients.

Depending on the client, a booking agent's duties may vary greatly. For musicians and bands, a booking agent may act as a representative of his client, contacting music venues for potential dates that his client may appear and perform. In addition, a music agent may arrange payment details with venue officials prior to the performance, and oversee any special agreements made between his client and venue officials. Likewise, the agent may work with outside promoters to help publicize the performance, and to help ensure high ticket sales.

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Unlike a music agent, an acting or modeling agent may be responsible for contacting film and television industry professionals on behalf of his client to acquire tv spots, commercials, advertisement placement, and other suitable jobs for a particular client. His contacts may include casting directors for film or tv, fashion photographers, advertising agencies, and others. If his client is hired for a job, this type of agent may then coordinate or negotiate contractual agreements and payment. Like most any booking agent, acting and modeling agents are also usually entitled to a negotiated percentage of the client's pay.

Depending on the type of talent he or she is representing, one additional duty that a booking agent may be assigned to is maintaining a portfolio or media kit for his client to be distributed to potential "buyers." For musical acts, a media kit might include a video or CD of the client's work, along with photos and media clippings of the musician or band. For models and actors, these may include a résumé of previous related work, a head shot or photograph of the client, and other promotional materials.

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ceilingcat
Post 4

I don't have any experience with agencies besides what I've seen on television, but it seems like you definitely should shop around before hiring an agent.

First of all, you should make sure they have a good reputation. Second of all, you should find out what percentage of your money they will be taking. And third, find out what services they're offering you. Why hire an agent that doesn't put together a media kit for you, when you can find one who will?

JaneAir
Post 3

@Ted41 - I agree, hiring a booking agent can be a great idea, as long as you hire someone reputable. A friend of mine is a DJ, and the first DJ booking agent he ever hired was very unscrupulous!

First of all, he was charging my friend a very high cut of his profits. My friend had never had an agent before, so he didn't know he was getting charged something well above the industry standard. And to top that off, the agent didn't even get him a lot of shows.

Eventually, my friend fired the first agent and hired a better booking agent.

Ted41
Post 2

I think hiring booking agents can be a really good idea, even if your band just plays local gigs. I have a friend who is in a somewhat well known local band, and they just recently hired a booking agent.

They were kind of hesitant to hire an agent, because they weren't sure if it was going to be worth the money. However, now they're getting book almost twice as much as they were before.

Sometimes booking agents have contacts other people just don't have! So even if you are handing over a portion of your money to them, you're still going to be making more in the long run.

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