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Terre Haute Federation of Musicians
The Business of Music 9


            Sometimes a love-hate relationship, booking agents play a distinct and sometimes misunderstood role in the music business. In order to deal with booking agents, you need to know where the two of you stand.

            Reduced to simple terms, booking agents are salespeople working on straight commission. Agents ferret-out work for bands, orchestras, and single acts. They represent musical acts to purchasers, work a deal that is mutually agreeable to the musicians and the purchasers-and earn a commission for doing it.

            Under the terms of the AFM bylaws and the AFMs Booking Agent Agreement, agents can earn commissions between 15% [for engagements that last two consecutive days or more per week] and 20% [for one-nighters]. If you enter into an exclusivity agreement with a booking agent, the agent may earn an additional 5% for each engagement performed.

            AFM franchised agents are also responsible for filing contracts with the Local where the job takes place.

            Booking agents are NOT employers. The cannot be employers under the terms of the AFM Booking Agent Agreement. That means you arent working for the agent. The agent is working for you. The purchaser [club owner, etc.] is the employer.

            YOU get paid first-not the booking agent. The band gets paid first, then you pay the agents commission.

            Any provisions or conditions [perks] in addition to the usual purchase price and payment terms are the subject of contract riders. It is your responsibility to inform the agent-in writing-of all the conditions you want met in order to take a job. It is also your responsibility to see the purchasers signature on the contract AND the riders. Also, make sure the agent gets deposits on your contracts. Your contract must also state that said deposits are non-refundable.

            You may be asking yourself why is this business stuff the bands concern anyway if were paying a booking agent to take care of it? It helps agents do their job when they have a clear understanding of what you require in order for them to strike a deal with a purchaser. Of course, some bands do book themselves, promote themselves, etc. But at some time, hopefully, you and your band will reach a certain level when it is all you can do to work on the band and its show, material, etc. This is when working with a booking agent is helpful, and profitable!

            It all comes down to common sense. Read and fully understand everything you are asked to sign, assume nothing, and remember that the only dumb question is the one you failed to ask.