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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Agents...who needs em?!

Hi there,

Why would you use an agent to get you gigs?

It's an agent's job to have strong relationships with venues, event bookers and even other agents. A good one will harness these contacts to get you work you might not otherwise get - and then manage the booking so that you can focus on just entertaining the masses. It's quite a luxury, well worth paying for in my book, that allows you to just be a performer and leave the business to the business people.

Now before you get the wrong idea, I'm not hear to praise all agents from the rooftops - it is an occupation up there with car sales and real estate in the trustworthy stakes, in some cases. However, one of my pet hates is entertainers constantly bitching about their agents (not suggesting I don't indulge in that sport myself occasionally). I booked a weekly singer songwriter night (PopTarts) for almost 10 years and while I wasn't strictly an 'agent', I certainly did a lot of the same work they did. And I can tell you, it's bloody hard! Dealing with publicans who measure entertainment success in terms of schooners sold and entertainers for whom the notion of promotion is a nebulous one can be frustrating and soul destroying. So before pissing on your promoter, try doing their job for yourself.

The problem is, a business hat doesn't always sit comfortably alongside an artistic hat on the same head - not everyone is cut out to balance books and belt out a ballad as well. But I do believe everyone needs to pull their head out of that creative soil just briefly to at least learn the basics.

Like many of my fellow songstresses, I've been doing this long enough that I have a pretty good idea what venues and event organisers are after. We should know how to do our own promotion and paperwork and understand the importance of being a business buff as well as polished performer. No one knows better than the act themselves, what they need, so could we just cut out that middle person - oh and save that at least 10% agent fee? Yes and No.

It's a tenuous world of work that I inhabit, where a gig can disappear on a whim. So I book about 50% of my work directly and the rest through a handful of agents I have built a rapport with - I like to share my eggs around in different people's baskets. I guess I just have to hope I get to deal more with competent cockerel types than the cocks.

See you next time!

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