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Gig-Booking Advice


NoahZark

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So, the latest incarnation of my band is now ready to gig, and I've had my eye on several bars in my area that book live entertainment on weekends as possible venues. In a couple of instances, however, I've learned that these bars book their bands through local booking agents.

 

Tonight, I was at one of the venues, and a band was playing there that offers nothing more than my band could offer and in some ways offers meaningfully less (for example, worst -- and ugliest -- female lead singer that I've seen/heard in a long time). :sick:

 

My experience, and that of our guitarist, with such booking agents has been mixed in the past. Accordingly, we're somewhat reluctant to pursue an arrangement with an agency now. Instead, we'd rather try to book gigs on our own.

 

My question is this: For those of you playing this type of circuit, are you ever able to convince any of these establishments to book you directly (for example, by providing a demo and promo kit directly to the management), or are they always committed to booking through the agencies?

 

An answer will help me know which door to knock on. I know what my preference would be, but if it's likely to lead nowhere, I'd rather not waste my time.

 

Ultimately, we just want to play, and the quickest path to getting us into these places is the one we're prepared to take.

 

Thoughts?

 

Noah

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Unfortunately, the way a lot of these places work, is that the agent lands the room. So to play there, you HAVE to book through them.

 

We have an agent that we book through exclusively. So we don't have to deal with those a-holes. Our agent does. Of course, that means that at some places, we pay 2 comissions. Of course, we get paid the same no matter what. So if the club wants to pay more to book through their agent, that's up to them.

 

Sometimes you can bypass those folks, but if you piss them off and they keep the room, you'll never play there - it's a fine line!

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I agree with Dan. It is a very fine line. Typicaly these guys book a number of rooms in town. So if you try to go around them and they hear about it, you end up blowing the chance at a number of rooms....that is until you become the number one band in town.
Montage 7, Mojo 61, PC-3, XK-3c Pro, Kronos 88, Hammond SK-1, Motif XF- 7, Hammond SK-2, Roland FR-1, FR-18, Hammond B3 - Blond, Hammond BV -Cherry
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So how do I find out whether a particular agent "owns" a particular room?

 

Usually you go to the club and ask about booking and they'll tell you - you need to call whoever. The good news is that if you get that agent booking you, they'll start putting you in 4 or 5 different rooms that they book. The bad news is that if they don't book you, that's 4 or 5 rooms you're locked out of.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Of course, Dan is right. :thu:

 

Noah, in addition to negotiations with local booking agents, you may want to become one. ;)

 

It would be another hat for the KB player to wear but I know you could do it. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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PD:

 

The drummer in my high school band has made quite a nice living for himself doing precisely that for the past 20+ years. We were playing with a well-known DC talent agency at the time (lo those many years ago), and my buddy eventually started assembling his own bands musician-by-musician to book as wedding/mitzvah/variety acts. Eventually, our agency entered into arrangement to be the exclusive booking agent for this guy's bands and also took him on as a partner/co-owner of the agency. He's been there ever since.

 

I've wondered at times whether that might have been an interesting path to pursue, but whenever I get together with my old friend, he reminds me of the one main draw-back: You spend way too much time dealing with mercurial musicians! :D

 

Thanks for the advice, guys.

 

Noah

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whenever I get together with my old friend, he reminds me of the one main draw-back: You spend way too much time dealing with mercurial musicians!

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And that is exactly why many club owners have a booking agent handling all their music. The owner may end up paying more to get the bands thru the booking agent but they feel it is worth it not to have to deal with "mercurial musicians". And the bands know that if they screw up being late or whatever they will never again work the rooms the agent represents. So the bands tend not to screw up and everyone is happy.

 

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