So, you think you’re ready for that national tour, those major venues. All you need is a booking agent, right?
Whoa there! First, lay your groundwork to get the most out of a relationship with an agent.
Global musicians, especially those new to the U.S., need to do lots of preliminary work before chasing down the best woman or man for the job. Without a strong following to start with, it will be tough to convince a pro to take you on in the current, highly competitive global music market.
1. Secure a following—and track it.
--Build a local fan base that allows you to earn money from ticket sales. If you can’t turn a profit on your home turf, how are you going to do it elsewhere?
--Grow that fan base in concentric circles, from local to regional to national, from niche to broader audience. And track your social media following by geography on sites like Next Big Sound. If someone sees you’re well positioned to draw an audience, they’ll be eager to work with you.
If you’re looking to break into North America, try putting a small tour together on your own. A few festivals and clubs and some good press, and you’ll be more likely to woo an agent worthy of your time and money.
--Have really good live video so future agents can get a taste of your live show. Hone in on ways to engage live, though onstage stories, costumes, visuals, lighting, and movement.
--Develop a narrative for each tour that you are pitching, so that an agent can see how easy it would be easy to build momentum around this concept. It can be simple, but intriguing.
2. Find your (wo)man.
--Identify agents whose repertoire is relevant to you and study the music of the artists on their roster. A good agent’s roster should be well curated, with some interesting variety but an overall sense of vision. There should be some art to it.
--Look for someone with excellent social skills and strong relationships with the presenters and venues you’re hoping for, someone who knows when to turn up the heat and when to back off. An agent should be friendly, knowledgeable, and highly motivated and organized. If you’re not getting that impression, look elsewhere
--Develop authentic relationships with booking agents in your town and at music industry conferences. Don’t just pitch them; dance with them, eat with them, help promote their artists. Show them you are human, and not just trying to get something from them.
Scroll down on the far right for a long list of agents excited about global music. DubMC is sponsored by rock paper scissors, inc., a global music publicity firm.