Music Artists, Booking Agents
Once an individual has attained the position of Booking Agent, advancement would come in the form of working with more well-known acts, getting hired by a more prestigious agency, or by handling a more lucrative regional territory. Other ways an Agent could advance in their career include assuming a position with more power within the company, such as Department Head, Vice President, or Agency Partner. He or she could also branch out and found their own booking agency.
Education & Training
“My degree in Music Business opened the door to an internship and was the beginning of my career as an Agent, ” Folk says. Attending a college program in a city that’s a music industry hub such as Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles or New York will automatically give an aspiring Booking Agent more opportunities for internships, simply through geographic proximity and established relationships between the schools and the agencies. However, he stresses, an aspiring Booking Agent’s degree and work experience may get their foot in the door, but their personality and skills are what, in the end, will get them hired.
Experience & Skills
Experience as an Intern or an Assistant at a booking agency will give those just starting off in their career the skills and knowledge necessary to eventually become a full-fledged Booking Agent. Apart from industry know-how, people skills, adaptability and the ability to work in a sometimes high-pressure environment are paramount. As Folk says, “What I typically look for when hiring someone are motivation, positive energy, enthusiasm and the age-old question, ‘Would I want to hang with this person at an airport bar during a 6 hour layover?’ In what we do, personality, willingness to adapt to any given situation, ambition, teamwork and being able to think on your feet are just a few keys to success in our field. Our business is based solely on relationships: relationships with artists, relationships with Talent Buyers/Promoters. There is a mutual trust between both that you have to always respect.”
In such a relationship-driven business, what kind of personality makes for a successful Booking Agent? “Outgoing [and] open, ” says Folk, with “that willingness to talk to someone you don’t know. A person who knows how to find a common ground with someone at the opposite end of the spectrum and know the end result is there [and] it’s just a matter of finding it.”
Booking Agents hold regular office hours, but often work late at night or on the weekends to seal deals or attend events. Since so much of the business is built on relationships, the line between work and entertainment can blur. Folk says he spends much of his workweek talking to artists, Promoters and Talent Buyers and, “in addition, being on the road many weekends throughout the year at as many events as possible.”
Internships are key to landing a first job as a Booking Agent. “There are many opportunities to intern at agencies these days, ” Folk says. “Start at the bottom as soon as you can so you can work your way up faster. I’ve never seen a case where someone gets an entry-level Agent position with no experience.”
Income levels for Booking Agents can vary greatly, depending on the genre of music represented, the level of artists the Agent works with, and how long they’ve been in the business. “What I see mostly these days are salaried positions with bonuses throughout the year depending on gross numbers and artists represented, ” says Folk.
Unions, Groups, Social Media, and Associations
There are countless online groups and associations that can be useful for Booking Agents, depending “on what type of music you are working with, ” Folk says. “There are many avenues that will be available to you.” Some of these organizations include the American Federation of Musicians and the Association of Talent Agents.