At some point in your career, you may have wondered if you need an agent or not. In theory, it sounds like a great idea to have someone readily available to book you gigs at Bridgestone Arena, but the real question you should be asking yourself first is: “What does an agent really do?”
This month, President and owner of BE Music Entertainment Michael Blanton addresses the impact an agent can have on your musical career. First, make sure you know the difference between an agent and a manager. Most people get them confused with one another, and a lot of artists tend to put unrealistic expectations on their agent because of this. In a nutshell, an agent is someone who finds work and books jobs for you. In the music business, they work as insiders who can put you in touch with the right people to guarantee you bigger shows and a better audience. However, it is not uncommon for an artist to have their manager play the double rolls of manager and agent.
Now that you know the basics of what an agent does, you should decide if you really need one or not. In essence, an agent can be necessary to any artist’s career, so the real question is not necessarily a matter of “if” but a matter of “when”. The right time to hire an agent mostly depends on how far you are in your career. If you’re just starting out, you probably won’t be able to even afford an agent anyway – especially as an independent artist, you may only be playing lots of local gigs right now. However, when you’re far enough along and are ready to tour – and we mean really tour, not just taking the ’75 Volkswagen to Atlanta for the weekend – an agent will play a huge role in organizing your tour and making it successful. They can help you book bigger shows in bigger venues and can also help you secure opening slots for popular acts, all of which are essential in taking your shows out of Mom’s garage and, as a result, taking your music to the next level. However, an agent will only be worth the price tag if they can do these things for you, so remain cautious when deciding if you should hire one or not. If an agent cannot guarantee you exposure through bigger venues and opening slots, you’re not ready for that next step anyway. If this is the case, continue focusing on your music itself until you are successful enough to take it to the next step.
And the last question you should ask yourself is: “Why do I need an agent?” Beyond just having tons of connections and being able to book you better gigs, an agent takes care a lot of the busy work that goes into touring. They handle all of the logistics behind organizing live shows and tours, which equals less of a headache for you in the long run.
If you don’t think you’re ready to hire an agent just yet, remember to remain patient. Keep working on building your musical brand – book lots of local gigs (you CAN do that yourself), seek out great press and build a fantastic reputation for yourself. Your career will only begin to take off, so when you are ready to hire an agent, you can rely on them to keep moving your career forward towards success.
Jill Kreinbrink has worked in the music industry for three years in Nashville, Indianapolis, London and currently Los Angeles...