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Photo: Sterling Howard, founder of Musicians Contact | Musicians Contact says (as does COMBO): We get a lot of inquiries from bands asking if we are a booking agency. Answer: No. We get our job openings directly from bands seeking new members, and we’ve never booked a band in our 54 year history. But are there less booking agents today than before?

Maybe not concerning large concert and festival circuits, but for clubs and smaller events, the answer is certainly “yes”, because most club work and events pay about the same as they did years ago, so an agent making 10% today means a lot less for him or her than 10% meant before.

Some agents previously booked several clubs 4 or 5 nights a week on a steady basis so it was enough to be considered a full time job. Other agents booked enough weddings and special functions to equal a full time career, but that is very hard to do today, so a lot of agents have just quit. On the other hand, they are no longer required to be licensed in many states, meaning no fees, so you’d think maybe there would be an increase instead.

Many bands who used agents in the past now find they have to do their own booking. At least they are saving 10%, but may realize all the effort and hassle is probably not worth it. Finding and booking gigs should be much easier today with the Internet, social media, and electronic press kits as opposed to the old method of sending tapes and bios through the mail, right? But it seems even more complicated today with TOO many avenues of promotion, leading to “information overload” instead.

There are large national online booking agencies like The Bash and Gigsalad which book thousands of acts, and are a good source of talent for the public seeking live entertainment. But many band leaders tell me that a lot of the acts accept much lower fees in order to beat the competing bands bidding for a potential gig, so now they’re getting LESS than they normally would charge, plus they’re still paying a commission and listing fees to the agency.

Other sources? Bands seeking agents might possibly have luck simply Googling “rock band booking agent NY”, or “wedding band music booking agent CA”, or whatever applies, and see what pops up. You might find an agent close by that you never knew existed. Music Connection magazine still publishes an updated free list on their web site, or if you wish to spend some bucks the Indie Bible sells a detailed list of booking agents. Have other ideas?

Photo: Sterling Howard, founder of Musicians Contact

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