My subtley nuanced thoughts on smaller artists using booking agents and “management”

[Originally blogged 7/7/09]

I know there will be those who disagree with me on this, but unless you can draw enough people to sell out 500-1000 capacity venues on a regular basis, then fuck booking agents. Fuck them in the ear.

I’ve been booking bands for going on 8 years and at this point every fucking time I’ve had to deal with MASSIVE bullshit is when an artist uses someone else to do their dirty work, so much so that I’ve had to contact these artists directly (and som/most of them are good friends) to have them tell their “booking agents” to eat a bag of dicks.

I understand not wanting to do the work. Believe me, I do. But I also know that I will and have actively AVOIDED booking certain artists BECAUSE they use certain people. This is lose-lose on both sides, in my mind, simply because I WANT to bring them but don’t want to play fucking “how much can you offer?” bullshit or “we need a deposit by THIS DAY due to the massive popularity of said artist”.

I ALSO see more “booking agencies” fucking up ENTIRE TOURS with artists because they can’t handle their shit or freakin’ don’t even pay attention to the DATES THESE BANDS CAN DO. Again, lose-lose on both the artist and promoter side and on top of it the artists are embarrassed that all the shit gets planned and they have to cancel because they can’t take 4 weeks off work and the booking agency forgot or just didn’t remember.

So fuck it. There’s plenty of amazing artists who I’ll treat just as fairly by simply cutting out the fucking middleman bullshit, or work directly WITH THOSE ARTISTS and SKIP their booking agents so the whole situation will be mutually beneficial.

I also see little to no point in having someone book shows for you and getting paid for it when it’s so hard to make ANY MONEY TOURING TO BEGIN WITH.

That’s just me though.

And again, I understand using one if you’re booking with larger companies and bigger venues– that’s a pain in the ass and dealing with minutiae like a House of Blues gig with union crews and all that sucks. Fine.

If you’re NOT playing those venues and NOT filling venues I am personally impressed in no way that you have “management” or “our booking people”. It generally makes me laugh because it’s a waste of time, energy, and looks like a play to seem more important than I know you are as an artist. Mind you, when I say “important” I simply mean I don’t think the ends justify the means, NOT that the artist isn’t talented and deserving of everything we negotiate. I wouldn’t WANT that artist if I wasn’t excited about them rocking the show.

So yeah, my potentially unpopular opinion on smaller artists using management/booking agencies. Skip it. You can potentially make more money (and get ripped off less) doing it yourself and learning how to do this shit is invaluable all around as a businessperson making music.

Grr punk industrial. Spit spit spit.

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