The fact is, sooner or later, if you’re a solo artist or going to work in a band, the idea of having an agent is going to really come into play. The questions will be many when it comes to making this decision, and of course one of them is whether or not you really need one in the first place! Booking yourself can turn into a monumentally big and full-time job, and even though you may find it not too hard in the beginning, the job can really become a “bear!” I think it’s good for a band or an artist to get some of that good “foundational” experience before moving on to an agent, even if just to better understand the process. After all, once you do have an agent who’s booking you, it’s a good idea to know just what that person’s job entails, so you don’t get screwed by them, and so that you can better understand just what a good, or bad job they might be doing representing you.
The act of trying to book oneself can be a bit demoralizing, as the artist must be the first in line to hear rejections, or to have to explain one’s own abilities. I can recall sitting and waiting in the front entrance of The Lone Star Café in NYC, holding 4 albums, a press kit and many other items, just in hopes that the “booking” person there would finally give me a gig. I did eventually get that gig, but not without being told a lot of stupid things such as, “you finally got us”, making it feel like they were doing me such a big favor by booking me there! By the end of the night I played there, obnoxious bouncer they had there was actually challenging me to a fight as to whether I’d get the money or not! Let’s face it, these are the kinds of things you, as an artist, do NOT want to encounter. On the other hand, you need someone who really believes in you and your music, and who would do all they could to not only book you, but represent you properly, with class, and also with a strong side that can handle adverse situations. And believe me, the adversity is always there, even when you think you’ve long since passed that period of your career! As they say, “just when you think you’ve paid your dues, you get another bill!”
The best managers and agents I’ve ever known are the ones who start out doing it for the love and respect they have for that particular artist…it’s like a friend making sure their favorite player/buddy is well taken care of in a totally unselfish way. There’s no real school for this kind of thing; only real-life experiences can add up to one becoming a true agent or manager, and it’s those hard-learned lessons that make the difference.
When you really get a big career “machine” going, you can have an entire network of people behind you such as a manager, booking agent, publicity agent, radio promo person and more. When it all clicks, it’s a wonderful thing, and of course, a good career with good representation can really start to “snowball”, giving you years of positive returns! Good luck in the search, but remember, try to do as much as you can in the beginning….you just may have to do it again, maybe in the end!