BOOKING AND AGENTS 101
This is an excerpt from the commentary booklet included in the Entertainment Source Library Version 3.1 published by Cumberland Music Group, Inc. Nashville TN. (Used by permission) It was written by Greg Forest, editor of the "ESL", and was compiled for the Music Arts Forum by Mike Lawson.
There is a simple, one page "standard booking agreement" in the Music Industry Library here in the Music Arts Forum. There is nothing fancy about it, but it has been upheld in small claims courts. If you need something a little more complex (stipulations about sound, lighting, and deli trays, for example), add a rider sheet to the contract listing what else you need to have covered under the agreement and put "see attached rider" on line 9. Line 11 and one half of lines 11 and 12 can be deleted if the band is doing its own bookings.
You may notice that this short form doesn't have clauses covering default by war or acts of God. In my twenty-five years in the business, I have yet to see an artist burned for his money by an act of war or God. It is usually something a little less earth-shattering: i.e., a jerk club owner who double-booked his room after finding a cheaper band and forgot to inform you. The intent of this short contract example is clear.
In retaining an agent, the three questions that should be addressed are:
1. Do I really need an agent? 2. If so, for how long and how much? 3. What can this agent do for me that I can't already do for myself?
There is a great deal that a well-connected agent can do in furthering the career exposure (and earnings) of a performer. There is also a lot of damage that can be done to a touring act after a string of 150 motel lounges in the Southwest. Who are the agent's other clients, and how do they appear to be doing? Can you earn enough money to keep the agent on the phone booking you or will you be the agent's B or C team? The most prudent way to approach an agent would be on a trial basis - say, six months or so. If after this initial term, both parties are still satisfied, then a longer agreement could be executed. You will have to use your own best judgement in securing an agent.