your thoughts on booking agents in the Houston area? Who's good
and what's 'typical' fee they work for? Maybe more specific,
who'd be good for Jen's style of music?
1) Booking agents can range from 10-35% of your gig fee. Make sure they have a list of their current clients and venues to show you, and then call or e-mail those refernces to ask how they enjoy working with the agent. Does the agent actually visit the clubs they book? Do they have an exclusive agreement with that club? Will the agent be willing to work with contracts?
2) Most booking agents here in town aren't really into original music, but if she can stomach doing cover gigs for awhile, I'm sure they could get her placed into venues that will at least pay the bills.
3) Since she is a keyboard player, she will be able to get a referral to a reputable agent from the Piano Entertainers Guild here in town (if she joins). http://odin.prohosting.com/~peg2001/.
Q. "I want to play gigs outside of my usual area - how do I get started in booking myself to clubs and venues in other cities if I don't know anyone?"
A. My best suggestion is for you to surf the webpages of local artists similar to yourself. Take a look at where they are playing. Then submit your presskit to those clubs. If they like the other artist, they might be inclined to like you too.
You should also pursue radio play in those towns before you book your gigs. If you have no fan base and no history there, why in the world would a club owner book you there? If you at least had radio play, you could demonstrate to the owner that you are doing your homework on his market and putting forth the effort. Call that station (if they are not top 40) and try to arrange a live on-air performance. For a list of independent radio stations, visit the Texas Music Office's radio database located here.
The most important tool any touring musician has (next to their rolodex) is their presskit. Get one. If you don't know how to make one, take a look at my on-line kit here. Also read the section in the database about presskits. Now get to work!!!
The SoundChick Recommends:
..Seek recommendations from other touring musicians. Don't pay more than 15%.
Learn to do this yourself before hiring someone to do it for you.
Visit the venue before you approach them for a booking and ask yourself theese questions:
Do they have good service?
Is the venue really interested in promoting their acts?
Do they take out advertising?
Is this a place you would want your fans to come to?
Call the venue to ask who their entertainment director is.
Make an appointment to talk to that person when they are not slammed with work.
Ask for 10 minutes of their time and have a great looking press kit. They want to know that you will work as hard as they do to make the gig a success.
If you want to learn more about the booking business and touring in general, I recommend the book, "All Area Access" by Marc Davison. You can get it on Amazon.com. I refer to my copy all the time.