While success in the music industry starts with the song,
Too often artists don't strive to make each performance an event. Instead, it's just another gig. You must avoid falling into this trap. If your live shows are becoming routine, you will quickly experience diminishing returns in terms of the impact of the gig (and the amount of people coming to see you).
Manager and producer Bennie Diggs makes this point emphatically in this video.
In order to make these gigs special you must develop a relationship with the audience. Shelly Berg, Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California, talks about the importance of developing a relationship with the audience in this video.
Once you've started making your gigs events and built real relationships based on emotional connections with your fans, it may be time to start thinking about a booking agent.
The first thing you need to know is that booking agents are harder to come by than labels. The economics are harsh. An agent typically gets 10% of the income from a show, so for a new band that might only be getting $150 for a show, the agent's commision is only $15.
In other words, you really need to build up your fan base on your own prior to thinking you're going to attract the attention of an agent.
In the following video Nic Adler, owner of The Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, talks about having a booking agent. Adler feels that there is a correct time and place in an artist's career when a booking agent is necessary. He shares his belief that having a booking agent before one's time can be harmful.
In addition to playing gigs in ever-expanding concetric circles radiating outward from your home town, artists should also be vigilantly looking for opportunities to play in front of potential new fans.
One great way to do this is by playing at festivals. The mother of all festivals for new artists is South by Southwest (SXSW).
In the following video, Darin Klein, a booking agent for the South By Southwest Music Conference, talks about the process of booking the festival, as well as offers some great general advice.
These videos should get you started, but be sure to explore; there's a ton more material on playing live and - more importantly - creating a strategy to maximize the live show on the AHM site.
Now get out there and create real connections with an audience!
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