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Artist Managers vs. Booking Agents

Written by Kristen Davis.

Do you think an artist manager and a booking agent are the same human? Think again! This industry is a very case by case basis where little is a “standard” way. This being said, it is easy to assume that the same person does both duties. Let's dive further into the nitty gritty of these two positions and what lies beneath them.


An artist manager is the artist / band's day-to-day go-to person. Depending on where the artist is in their career their tasks will widely vary, but one thing that stays the same is that human should have eyes on all aspects of the business (artistry). They should have a basic knowledge of all aspects going on in the artist's career so that they can navigate the appropriate tasks and questions to the proper contact / team member. They will share their diverse network of specialists to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible to stay on budget and relate to the vibes and tasks the artists need. They will always stand behind the act and be their honest representation, looking out for the best interest of the artist.


A booking agent is…. A booking agent. In all seriousness, they are to essentially develop and hold relationships with promoters and venues. The sole purpose of their job is to lock in the best show opportunities for their client. Understanding the artist's target audience and understanding the scene and market of establishments is their bread and butter. It is important to have people who specialize in very specific areas and that is exactly what a booking agent does. While also looking out for the artist's best interests, they use their expert knowledge to land the best showcases possible for the act.


Ok, let’s get a little confusing for a second. When there is a manager role in a developing and/or emerging artist's life, it is a usual part of their duty to represent you and send cold emails. The manager should look out for the artist's best interest and seek opportunities and that is a huge part of that process in getting a new talent's name out. Now once the artist and manager have broken into something with this method, it is likely a booking agent will seek you. Sometimes the talent buyer, venue manager, etc of the places you pass by and play through will recommend you to them so always be sure to make a good impression. The industry is small and full of talk so as an artist you always want the places you visit to have positive words about their experience with you and your manager.


Once you have a manager and an agent you want them to familiarize each other with themselves and work together to make things as easy as possible for one another to continue to build the artist up. The manager should know about each aspect of the artist's career and the agent should keep them informed; often by sending weekly itineraries of shows and expressing things that are working and not working to them. This way the manager can align marketing efforts to be more fruitful and keep the artist's expectations and goals where they need to be. So work with people who care, work with people who hustle, and work with good humans who respect you and those around them to make all experiences as positive and rewarding as possible. This is a process to be patient with, time and approach are everything.

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