How To Be Your Own Agent: 5 Tips for Booking Your Own Concerts
How To Be Your Own Agent will be an ongoing column in The Flute View for 2023 hosted by Flute View Editor Morgan Pappas.
Morgan Pappas draws on her creative vision, innate professionalism, and organizational strengths to help musicians, artists, and presenters actualize and elevate their creative visions.
Morgan’s background in the music industry includes roles such as Director of the Galway Flute Festival led by Sir James and Lady Galway, Director of Operations for the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, Sales Manager/ Resident Flutist at Flute Center of New York, and Concert Producer at venues such as Carnegie Hall.
Morgan is currently the Executive Director for Marsalis Mansion Aritsts, LLC, and has a consulting business, helping artistic professionals express their talent with authenticity empowered by creative excellence and smart strategy. To work with Morgan, visit her website.
5 Tips To Booking Your Own Concerts
- Have an EPK (electronic press kit) that best represents your show, recital, or ensemble that you are trying to book. An EPK should be 1-2 pages of information showcasing the project you wish to book. An EPK should include a brief description/ biography, a few images, and direct links to video examples, website, and social media links. Having a polished-looking EPK is essential for all promotional purposes. It is a portfolio that should be included in an email and downloadable from your website. Use professional photos and branding to represent your creative vision and musical identity.
- Create a database of venues, performing arts centers, associations, and schools where you wish to perform. Identify the venue's Director or primary booking contact and organize your database to include their email, phone number, and other important information. This database will be helpful to have to create an email list and to "block book" your performance. For example, if you already have a concert booked in Chicago, it will be helpful to know the other presenters in Illinois to try to arrange a tour.
- Create a captivating email template to reach out to venue contacts from your database. Be sure to be individualized in your communication so that it is clear that you understand the presenter's programming needs. For example, look at the other musical acts and performances that the presenter/ theater has previously booked to ensure that their audience and programming align with your style of music. It is important to be succinct in your initial reach out and include your EPK so they can further review your information. Include a way for the presenter to be in touch with you, such as your phone number and email address. Keep the rhetoric professional but approachable. Mention any personal connections that would be helpful to establish familiarity. A professional signature on your email is also essential, including your basic contact information and social media/website details. Be sure to check your spelling and grammar to make sure that there are no typos before sending out the email.
- Follow-up. Refrain from being intimidated and deterred if you do not receive a reply. It is common for presenters to overlook emails, and it does not hurt to follow up consistently in a professional and non-demanding way. If you do receive a reply, be sure to reply promptly. Keep track of your email communication. You can download software such as Salesforce to use both as a database and to log the email communication. This software will allow you to follow conversations and track your last reach-outs. As a rule of thumb, I send 5-10 cold emails daily to presenters to book the musical acts I represent. These personalized emails are not part of the mass marketing emails I send out bi-monthly.
- Create a fee structure that is sustainable and be prepared to negotiate. Presenters and theaters will often tell you their programming budget, but also be prepared to provide your fee if asked. It is common practice to include some basic requirements, such as a tech rider which lists your expectations from the presenter during your show. Requests can include water and snacks backstage, a dressing room, ground transportation, and accommodation, among others. Be sure to research the venue before making any unreasonable requests. Presenters and theaters will often negotiate your fee, so be prepared to know your bottom line before going into a booking discussion. Sometimes, it's worth going below your fee range to build a presence in a region or if you already have another performance booked in the area. If you are new to touring or booking your shows, it does not hurt to say yes to engagements that may feel below your pay grade. It takes time to build a reputation, and all the experience you gain from your initial concert tours will pay off later in your career.