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  BOOKING AGENTS vs. PROMOTERS...
CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN
5 August 2013


chris dale

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...and why your favourite band aren't playing in your home town this year.

We had a look before at what managers and producers did for bands. This month let's look at Booking Agents and Promoters. Who are they? What do they do? And most importantly who would win in a hypothetical fight between the two?

In short to answer the first two questions, these are the people who book the gigs that we all go to see.

Strangely a lot of people seem to think that bands pick their own touring schedules. Then they say, why aren't my favourite band coming to my home town?

Article continues below...

   


Then these people decide in their heads that the band must hate their town and by inference, the fan themselves.

Misunderstandings like this are one of the most common causes of Passive-Aggressive Fan Disorder (PAFD) whereby the fan develops an imagined personal love-hate relationship with his or her idols. This can in some cases be so intense and appear so real to the sufferer that they are mentally and in some cases physically incapacitated.

I'm mostly over that with Kiss now.

There are no known medical cures for PAFD. The only thing science can recommend is a course of cold showers and a sharp dose of reality.

Let's have a little dose of reality right now on the subject of how bands pick their touring schedules.

A PAFD sufferer will hypothesise about a scenario whereby the band pick their own touring schedule based on whims.

Maybe they have a band meeting and look at a big map of the World with the guitarist saying "I'd like to play Madison Square Garden in New York this time. And Wembley Arena, please".

The bass player would probably recommend Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic purely because of their brewing traditions.

Bass players are after all, very sensible people.

Then I guess the imaginary scenario goes on with the singer wanting to go to half a dozen countries purely because he thinks the chicks are hot there, while at the same time refusing to play another half a dozen cities on the grounds that on previous occasions people had been rude to him there.

This is when the PAFD patient starts the belief that the singer personally hates him or her.

"Maybe it's because last time I hung around outside his hotel window smashing bottles and screaming "I Love You!" till the police arrived at 5am", they'll think to themselves. "I bet he hates me now and that's why they're not playing here".

Yep, it's all making perfect sense (in their minds).

Finally the drummer, who in this fantasy has been silent up until now points at Madagascar on the map and says he's always wanted to play in Japan because he likes pizza.

The manager probably takes notes in the fantasy meeting then rings up the chosen venues and the next day the tour is booked.

Surely that's what happens?

It's a lovely idea, very quaint and all, but this is of course not what happens except in the movies (and in fans' minds).

In real life, the band's manager contacts a person called a 'Booking Agent'. The manager tells the booking agent that his band has an album coming out and would like to do a tour to promote it.

The booking agent then looks at the different territories that the band might make money in.

Yes, sorry we've mentioned it already. It's not about who screams the loudest outside the hotel window. It's about money. That's why its called 'the music business', because its a business.

The booking agent is on a percentage of the band's gross financial take each night, usually about 15%. Fair enough, he's doing a job.

So the agent looks at the places this band might play profitable gigs. One part of his job is to think of a sensible route in which to do the tour. For this task he uses an atlas.

It is while browsing the picture pages that he notices that Ireland, Finland and Malta have bits of water in the way. He immediately crosses them off the list. It's not because the band hate you. It's because the gig might not be profitable after paying the extra travel costs. Sorry. Build a bridge!

While most of us would spend a lot of time looking at the pictures (what posh people call 'maps') at the front of an atlas to see which venues are near each other, booking agents often seem to look in the index at the back for that information.

I once enjoyed a tour that had Barcelona, Spain and Bratislava, Slovakia as consecutive dates. On the map pages of the atlas these cities and countries are not close to each other but alphabetically in the index they are within easy walking distance.

This of course makes no sense in the practical real world but agents do not usually leave the office and have little contact with the real world.

Once he's got an idea of a route, the booking agent calls some people called 'Promoters' that he knows in different countries. These promoters then decide if they want to book local shows in each territory gambling that the band can sell enough tickets to justify the gig and make a profit.

Unlike the booking agent who is on a set percentage of the band's gross fee, the promoter is on a cut of the net fee after costs.

Usually the band will make their money from a guaranteed fee from the venue often with an additional split of the ticket money on the show if it runs into profit. The booking agent takes his cut of this sum. Then from what's left the band have to pay for their touring costs such as their crew and transport.

The promoter is also on a variable split (with the band) of the ticket money but he must pay the venue costs before his profits roll in. A legally binding contract is then agreed and signed between the agent and the promoter.

This makes the promoter's outlook different from that of the booking agent. Both are on a percentage of profits but the promoter has to invest money in a show to make it happen.

He has to cover costs such as hiring a venue, PA system, lights and the local crew to run them. He also pays for the band's food and drink (which can be quite pricey if they are not teetotal) and sometimes he pays their flights and hotels.

If not enough fans buy tickets, the promoter has lost money. The agent has not actually lost cash though he and the band may not be in profit. He's just got to pay his phone bill and internet connection while arranging the tour.

Thus it is largely in the interest of promoters to get fans to the show. A good promoter runs an online marketing strategy, gets posters put up all over town and pays local radio stations and magazines to advertise the gig. In short he 'promotes' the show, hence his job title.

This all costs him more money but if he doesn't gamble it, he's got less chance of making a profit. The larger the show, the bigger the gamble and the more he must invest to promote it. Being a promoter is a gambler's game.

You'll have noticed that at no point in this arrangement has the band been consulted. They very rarely are. After all how can they guess their ticket selling potential in Barcelona or Bratislava, especially if they've never been there before?

So the next time you're blaming a band for not playing your home town or country, really you should be writing to your local venue or festival promoter to convince them that there's a profit to be made by booking the band.

It's not the band's fault or choice.

A good local promoter with his finger on the pulse will have noticed which up and coming bands are getting good press, which ones get requested at the local rock club and which band's T-shirts his club's audience tend to wear.

He has to be a bit clued up to pitch his gamble at the right level. The booking agent can afford to lose the game more often than the promoter.

Some promoters only deal in big bands where the profits are pretty much guaranteed though risked costs might be bigger. Other promoters will take a gamble on small unheard of bands at their local venues. This is sometimes for the very philanthropic reason of helping young musicians but on other occasions it is with the tried and tested theory that if you throw enough shit at a wall some of it will stick.

Now onto the more interesting question of who would win in a hypothetical fight between the two.

On this one anonymous example I'm going to tell you about a local UK promoter who booked an unheard of American band for a small fee - £300 with a split of profits between the band and promoter after that.

The agent had originally asked for £400 but the promoter talked him down by 25%.

Newly signed bands with no press presence are unlikely to turn a profit for anyone, especially if they have to fly in from the USA for their tour. The promoter was taking a gamble on an unheard of band with a funny sounding name.

The agent however was on £45 (15% of the £300) no matter what happened. That's not a lot but if he booked a 20 date UK tour for them it might be worth a couple of days work for him.

The promoter's gamble here relies on local radio or press picking up on this band in between the time the concert contracts are signed and the gig being played.

For the sake of the story let's call this promoter Glasgow's legendary Robert Fields.

In this particular case after the contract for the show was signed and sealed the formerly unknown band (for the sake of the story let's call them Pearl Jam) rocketed up the UK single charts singles charts with their debut release 'Alive'.

Ow! All of a sudden they were splashed all over major music press front covers, they were on TV and got constant radio airplay.

Our promoter had struck gold! He now had a completely sold out show for £300. The booking agent however still only stood to make £45 from the event, plus a smaller percentage of any further profits from the band.

This time the promoter's gamble paid off...

paerl jam contract

... because it's not every night of the week that you can book Pearl Jam for £300 cash!




MORE CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN COLUMNS HERE...

July 2013: Rock and Metal Pub Quiz
June 2013: Communication Tips For European Festivals, Or How To Learn A Language In An Evening
May 2013: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) RIP
April 2013: Daily Mail Columnist Richard Littlejohn Sinks To New Low With Anti-Heavy Metal Article
April 2013: The Future Of Classic Bands
March 2013: Smashing Pumpkins Video Shoot
Febuary 2013: Ten Years On Total Rock
January 2013: Kiss Follow Up To Monster 2013
December 2012: Kiss Reformation Magick
November 2012: Exclusive Interview With Geoff Tate
November 2012: Morally Worrying Session
October 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Review
October 2012: The Best Invention Of All Time
September 2012: A Conversation With Rudy Sarzo
August 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 3
July 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 2
June 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 1
May 2012: Managers v Producers
April 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Album Preview
March 2012: London Venue's Nazi Past?
February 2012: How Not to Join the Ozzy Osbourne Band
January 2012: Metal Evilution
December 2011: Take Your Pick Competition
November 2011: The Pandora's Box Of Pop
October 2011: Tank Tour Diary 2011
September 2011: Festival Stage Collapses
August 2011: Bruce Air, The Early Days
July 2011: European Festival Round-Up
June 2011: Bernie Torme Proud To Be Part Of MT Ozzy Article
June 2011: Who's Your Favourite Ozzy Guitarist?
May 2011: Japanese Tsunami Disaster
April 2011: 10,000 Tank Albums!
March 2011: Death Metal Session!
6th February 2011: Gary Moore (4th April 1952 - 6th February 2011)
February 2011: Recording Bass at Steve Harris'
January 2011: A Column About Columns



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helmet HELMET ANNOUNCE 'BETTY' 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR OF EUROPE FOR AUTUMN 2014
UK dates in Glasgow, Manchester, London now added due to popular demand ...

wacken LIVE AT WACKEN 2013 TO BE RELEASED AS DVD/ BluRay / 2 CD
Experience the world's biggest Metal Festival at home and be in with a chance to win a Lifetime Membership...

uncle rust UNCLE RUST ANNOUNCE AUGUST UK TOUR
The recently formed London based rock/Metal band will undertake a set of UK dates in August 2014...

blitzkreig BLITZKRIEG ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR FOR SEPTEMBER 2014
The band will visit five countries on their only tour this year...

sonisphere LATE NIGHT ENTERTAINMENT AT SONISPHERE ANNOUNCED
Only two weeks away - get ready to continue the party after the headliners leave the stage...

finntroll FINNTROLL REVEAL LIVE FOOTAGE OF SEMINAL TRACK 'TROLLHAMMAREN', FILMED AT THEIR LIVE ALBUM RECORDING SHOW IN AMSTERDAM
"Lock up your daughters, kegs of rum and men of God, for The Trolls from Up North are coming for you...live!..."

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE REVEAL NEW VIDEO 'THE GAME' (FEAT. MATT HEAFY OF TRIVIUM)
The track is taken from the album 'Maximum Overload', which will be released in August...

motorhead aftershock MOTÖRHEAD RELEASE 'AFTERSHOCK - TOUR EDITION' ON 7TH JULY
The album is released with a live CD. It proves one major thing no-one should ever forget...they are Motörhead, and they play rock'n'roll!...

grave GRAVE REISSUE 'SOULLESS' ON VINYL ON JULY 14
The limited editions of the third album by the Swedish Death Metal act are issued in several colours...

wolf WOLF ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR NEW ALBUM 'DEVIL SEED'
All the elements are aligned for this fierce slab of pure Heavy Metal mayhem...

darkest era DARKEST ERA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BEYOND THE GREY VEIL'
Watch the thematic centerpiece for the album 'Severance' right here...

hordes of belial DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCED AS HEADLINERS FOR HORDES OF BELIAL V: A 2014 SCOTTISH EXCLUSIVE
The Geordie quartet will play the Dundee event along with other high quality Metal bands...

sikth SIKTH ANNOUNCE HEADLINE TOUR OF THE UK
"We decided we had to do a full UK tour, just one show was never gonna be enough for us... Also we aim to add some 'never played before live songs' too"...

tankard TANKARD ANNOUNCE HILARIOUS NEW ANIMATED VIDEO FOR 'FOOLED BY YOUR GUTS'
The latest track from 'R.I.B.' (Rest In Beer) has been created by producers from The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE US SUMMER DATES WITH KISS & DEF LEPPARD
The band are ready to "bring some some kick ass, analog rock and roll music to all of you with the legendary KISS and Def Leppard and help make your summer as memorable as possible"...

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE ONE-OFF INTIMATE UK SHOW AT THE BORDERLINE, LONDON
The Borderline show is on 27th June. The Metal heavyweights will also headline Yorkshire's Ghostfest on 28th June...

Eluveitie ELUVEITIE RELEASE FIRST SINGLE 'KING' ONLINE, TAKEN FROM THEIR FORTHCOMING ALBUM 'ORIGINS'
The Swiss Folk-Metallers release a mighty tale of the historical figure Ambicatus...

sikth UK TECH-FEST WELCOMES THE GODFATHERS OF UK TECH-METAL SIKTH TO THE BILL
Djent monsters Monuments and acoustic guitar master Jon Gomm also join the line up...

escape the fate ESCAPE THE FATE ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR OCTOBER 2014
Now it is time for UK audiences to get their first look at the new look Escape The Fate...

anthrax ANTHRAX ANNOUNCE LIMITED EDITION COLOURED VINYLS AS PART OF THRASH BACK CAMPAIGN
Celebrate 30 years of Thrash with reissues from Anthrax and other classic bands...

gatecreeper GATECREEPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR THEIR SELF TITLED EP
'Force Fed' is available as one of the tracks on the pay what you want download...

jonny morelli JONNY MORELLI, DRAUGR DRUMMER DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT
Condolences start to pour in for the musician, tattoo artist and writer...

at the gates AT THE GATES ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER IRISH SHOW, BLOODSHOT DAWN TO SUPPORT
Swedish Melodic Death Metal pioneers to play Dublin in January 2015...

nita strauss ALICE COOPER ADDS NEW GUITARIST NITA STRAUSS TO LINEUP FOR 2014 SUMMER/FALL TOURS
The LA guitar wiz will join the tour in Michigan on June 26...

whitechapel WHITECHAPEL PREMIERE NEW VIDEO 'WORSHIP THE DIGITAL AGE'
The clip is the first full performance video from 'Our Endless War' and was directed by acclaimed director David Brodsky...

behemoth BEHEMOTH, DECAPITATED & GRAND MAGUS ANNOUNCED FOR DECEMBER TOUR
A chance for the UK to see 'The Satanist' performed in all its hellish glory...

steel panther STEEL PANTHER ANNOUNCE THEIR BIGGEST EVER UK TOUR
The dates include a night at the legendary Wembley arena in March 2015...

alestorm ALESTORM UNVEIL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'DRINK'
If you need a new anthem of the summer then look no further...

rik mayall RIK MAYALL'S 'NOBLE ENGLAND' SONG HEADING FOR NUMBER ONE SPOT AS ENGLAND'S WORLD CUP ANTHEM
The beloved late comedian looks set to storm the UK Top 10 with his lost anthem...

red dragon cartel EXCLUSIVE: RED DRAGON CARTEL GIGS BACK ON - BAND TO PLAY MANCHESTER AND BUCKLEY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
Tickets for both shows will be at the special price of £10 as a gesture to fans who were inconvenienced by last weekend's events...

brutal truth DAN LILKER OF BRUTAL TRUTH INVITES YOU TO OBSCENE EXTREME FESTIVAL
This will most likely be the very last chance fans will get to see Danny and Brutal Truth live in Europe...

belphegor BELPHEGOR PUT THE FIRST 'CONJURING THE DEAD' STUDIO TRAILER ONLINE
The Black Metal giants are gearing up to unleash their tenth album ...

ill nino ILL NIÑO RELEASE ALBUM TITLE AND NEW SINGLE
Every pre-order for Till Death, La Familia will receive an instant download of 'Live Like There's No Tomorrow' and will automatically be entered to win an ESP guitar autographed by Ill Niño. ...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS WILL BE OPENING ACT FOR KISS AND DEF LEPPARD THIS SUMMER
The new album 'High Priestess' will be released in September...

triaxis becky TRIAXIS ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST & NEW ALBUM PLANS
Outstanding bassist Becky Baldwin joins the Welsh Metallers for third studio album...

rival sons tour RIVAL SONS ANNOUNCE DECEMBER UK TOUR
Following their current run of sold-out dates, the Californians return this winter with their unmissable live show...

spike frankie miller SPIKE ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF '100% PURE FRANKIE MILLER' IN SEPTEMBER 2014
The celebratory album features Ronnie Wood, Andy Fraser, Simon Kirke, Ian Hunter and more...

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY REVEAL NEW VIDEO FOR 'NO MORE REGRETS'
The album 'War Eternal' is out now worldwide and the band hit the road from July to December...

sanctuary SANCTUARY FINISH RECORDING NEW ALBUM AND ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE DATE
'The Year The Sun Died' will be out on September 29th in Europe...

rock metal circus ROCK AND METAL CIRCUS ANNOUNCE NEW VENUE FOR 2015
Roll up to Northants for Voodoo Six, Tygers of Pan Tang, Wolf plus some of the hottest new acts around...

aor 3 NIGHT RANGER TO HEADLINE HRH AOR 3
Adrenaline-fuleed rock and roll is the latest addition to the bill...

alz grinder ALZ-GRINDERS PLAN GRINDING FOR A CURE VOL 4
Over 300 extreme bands have contributed to the fundraising albums so far...

cambridge rock festival LINE-UP FOR CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL ALMOST COMPLETE
The main stage is booked and stages 2 and 3 are filling up fast...

headbangers open air ANVIL REPLACE DEATH ANGEL FOR HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR
After Death Angel cancelled their entire European tour, Anvil step in with a special "best of" set...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH CANCELS GUITAR GODS DATES IN NORTH AMERICA
It's official - this guitar god has been grounded by visa problems...

joe bonamassa JOE BONAMASSA ANNOUNCES NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'DIFFERENT SHADES OF BLUE'
The new album of all original material lands on 22nd September...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL ISSUE STATEMENT OVER WOLVERHAMPTON GIG CANCELLATION
The band made a barbed official statement denying the reasons for the cancellation made by the promoter without actually addressing the main issue...

red dragon cartel BREAKING NEWS: RED DRAGON CARTEL CANCEL WOLVERHAMPTON SHOW, REST OF UK TOUR IS OFF, DOWNLOAD IN JEOPARDY
An argument broke out between the band and promoter Denise Dale who was representing Metal Music Bookings and Management...

uli jon roth ULI JON ROTH FACES CANCELLATION OF HIS PARTICIPATION IN GUITAR GODS TOUR
"The tour is in jeopardy...this has never happened in over thirty years of visas"...

les fest wiston LES-FEST ANNOUNCES MAIN STAGE TIMES
Get the latest from Scotland's premier Metal festival right here...

beermageddon METAL FEST BEERMAGEDDON STRENGTHEN THE LINE UP YET AGAIN...WITH EVEN MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
Jaldaboath, Monumentomb and Furyborn are among the latest additions...

blues pills DORIAN SORRIAUX FROM BLUES PILLS PERFORMS A GUITAR PLAY-THROUGH OF THE BAND'S NEW TRACK
Watch and learn as Dorian deconstructs 'High Class Woman'...

cj wildheart CJ WILDHEART RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM IN SEVEN YEARS
'Mable' is available for pre-order now via Pledgemusic. CJ will also be releasing his own brand of hot sauces this year...

hrh aor3 HRH AOR ANNOUNCE FIRST 10 BANDS
FM, Dare, The Poodles and Starz lead the charge for March 2015...

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