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FEATURES
  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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The band will preview their next single 'Good Things'. A further UK tour is planned for December this year...

ac/dc AC/DC REVEAL FIRST TRACK, ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR NEW ALBUM 'ROCK OR BUST'
'Rock Or Bust' is AC/DC's first studio album for six years and their first ever not to feature their founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young

manowar MANOWAR GIVE STUDENT MUSICIANS FROM ESSEN, GERMANY A NEW STAGE
Manowar will perform with the Bredeneyer Schulorchester. "We have offered them the opportunity to reach an audience that we know understands the tremendous power of music, and that they have more in common with than they may imagine..."

steel panther STEEL PANTHER UNLEASH VIDEO FOR 'PUSSYWHIPPED'
Biggest ever UK tour kicks off in March 2015, including a night at Wembley Arena...

texas flood THE TEXAS FLOOD SIGN LONG TERM DEAL WITH OFF YER ROCKA RECORDINGS
The powerhouse trio are ready to showcase their own brand of vintage rock to the world...

pythia PYTHIA ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE, ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR NEW ALBUM 'SHADOWS OF A BROKEN PAST'
The band have also released the first song, 'The Key', which you can hear as part of the promo video here...

acdc AC/DC SHOOT NEW PROMO VIDEOS IN LONDON
Once inside Brian Johnson explained that Malcolm Young gave his blessing for the band to continue without him...

sanctuary SANCTUARY RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'FROZEN'
Seattle Thrash luminaries Sanctuary return with a new album and video, their first for twenty five years...

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES TO RELEASE 3D CONCERT 'APPETITE FOR DEMOCRACY 3D: LIVE AT THE HARD ROCK CASINO - LAS VEGAS' INTERNATIONALLY
This is the first official Guns N' Roses live concert film since 1992's 'Use Your Illusion' concert video and features brand new live performances of classic GN'R tracks...

blues pills BLUES PILLS KICK OFF THEIR HEADLINING EUROPEAN TOUR
The three month tour takes in seven UK dates, including an upgraded venue in Manchester...

tesseract TESSERACT SIGN TO KSCOPE
The band have a new creative energy after reuniting with singer Dan Tompkins and have already written half of their third album, the follow up to 'Altered State', slated for a 2015 release...

primordial PRIMORDIAL TO RELEASE NEW FULL-LENGTH THIS NOVEMBER VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS
"We feel revitalized, the hunger never left and we are ready for another chapter to be written in our history..."

ill nino ILL NIÑO PREMIERE NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'I'M NOT THE ENEMY'
The video tells a bold story of youthful injustice, overcoming social stereotypes and the dreams of constructing a better life...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND LAUNCHES ZTV AND NEW ZILTOID SITE
"I'm really excited to present to you the new Ziltoid website, and the first of three ZTV episodes leading up to the album release..."

judas priest JUDAS PRIEST OPEN US TOUR WITH NEW SONGS AND CLASSICS: SPOILER ALERT - FULL SETLIST HERE
The legendary British Metallers are touring in support of of their new 'Redeemer Of Souls' album...

tony wright TONY WRIGHT RELEASES FIRST SOLO ALBUM 'THOUGHTS 'N' ALL' ON 17TH NOVEMBER
The Terrorvision frontman has made a personal, heartfelt and passionate reflection of his journey...

off PUNK/HARDCORE LUMINARIES OFF! RETURN TO THE ROAD
There will be six UK dates before the band head off to mainland Europe...

queensryche BREAKING NEWS: QUEENSRYCHE ANNOUNCED AS HARD ROCK HELL VIII HEADLINERS
Following the official cancellation of W.A.S.P., Hard Rock Hell are pleased to announce that Queensryche will be stepping up to the top slot...

motorhead LEMMY TALKS TO FULL METAL JACKIE ABOUT HIS HEALTH, THE NEXT ALBUM AND THE MOTORBOAT CRUISE
Lemmy Kilmister was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show this weekend...

hellion HELLION ANNOUNCE NEW 'KARMA'S A BITCH' MINI ALBUM & SINGLE
Hellion's strongest line-up to date unleash first new material in over a decade...

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY RELEASES 'SOUNDTRACKS OF MY LIFE' DVD
Blaze and backing band Absolva are captured in a performance celebrating 30 years in the business for Blaze...

black sabbath BREAKING NEWS: BLACK SABBATH TO RECORD NEW ALBUM AND DO ONE FINAL TOUR
Just as we told you back in May, Black Sabbath's Hyde Park performance on 4th July was not the last ever Sabbath gig...

def leppard DEF LEPPARD ROCK THE NFL AT WEMBLEY
A stage was set up on the pitch with the band performing in front of beautiful cheerleaders...

slipknot SLIPKNOT RELEASE 'THE DEVIL IN I' OFFICIAL VIDEO
Find out more about the new masks as the build up to the release of '.5:The Gray Chapter' continues...

sy keeler ONSLAUGHT'S SY KEELER TO SIT OUT FORTHCOMING US/CANADA/SOUTH AMERICA TOUR
Ex Anthrax legend Neil Turbin steps into the breach as the health issues of Sy Keeler's son mean he is needed at home...

vivian cambell VIV CAMPBELL TO UNDERGO STEM CELL TREATMENT
Trixter guitarist Steve Brown will fill in for Def Leppard's autumn dates...

haken HAKEN LAUNCH 'DARKEST LIGHT' VIDEO
"We've managed to chop the old song in half, cut away all the excess fat and produce a 6 minute rowdy riff roller-coaster that will surely find a home in the heavier side of our live show..."

the dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE 'THE FACE I LOVE' VIDEO
Get a look at the title track of the new EP here. A new album will follow in 2015...

primordial PRIMORDIAL ANNOUNCE UK DATES IN FEBRUARY 2015
There will also be an album launch in Dublin in November for 'Where Greater Men Have Fallen'...

protokult SING ALONG TO 'GET ME A BEER!' LYRIC VIDEO BY PROG FOLK METALLERS PROTOKUL
"For those of you who can't understand what the hell Martin is spewing, now is your chance to sing along! Get yourself a cold one and enjoy!"...

whitesnake WHITESNAKE ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DVD/CD WITH CLASSIC AND RARE PERFORMANCES
"It's still hard for me to find the words when remembering that half the incredible band who originally recorded the 'Slide It In' album with me have passed away," says Coverdale...

metal church VOCALIST RONNY MUNROE QUITS METAL CHURCH
The band posted a statement on their official Facebook page assuring fans that the band is alive and well and that "big announcements" are expected soon...

bloodbath BLOODBATH STREAM FIRST NEW TRACK FEATURING NICK HOLMES AND REVEAL ALBUM TRACKLISTING
Sweden's masters of horror Bloodbath are set to release their fourth album of supreme death Metal, 'Grand Morbid Funeral', on 17th November 2014...

ac/dc AC/DC ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, 'ROCK OR BUST', AND CONFIRM DEPARTURE OF MALCOLM YOUNG
AC/DC have announced details of their 17th studio album, their first for six years and their first ever not to feature Malcolm...

lordi LORDI RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM 'SCARE FORCE ONE'
Tour dates to follow for the Finnish sensations. "The overall sound of the band is more modern this time, and we've tried out some new tricks here and there..."

bloodstock CANNIBAL CORPSE WILL PLAY AN EXCLUSIVE UK SHOW AT BLOODSTOCK 2015
Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura and Ihsahn join the line-up that also includes Within Temptation and Opeth...

helix HELIX ANNOUNCE TOUR OF EUROPE
This will be the first Euro tour for Helix since heading out with Kiss and Ian Gillan in the 1980s...

threshold THRESHOLD DISCUSS HOW THEY FOUND THE NEW ALBUM ARTWORK ON THE INTERNET
Damian Wilson and Richard West discuss Threshold's new album 'For The Journey', out today...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS RELEASE 'THIS IS ROCK N ROLL II' IN ADVANCE OF NOVEMBER TOUR
Re-packaged, re-styled and with 4 bonus tracks, the rare 2001 classic from The Quireboys will be available on 23rd October...

gwar GWAR REVEAL TWO NEW MEMBERS - BLÓTHAR AND VULVATRON
Meet the latest warriors to don the latex and styrofoam and join the intergalactic crew for Gwar's "Eternal" tour...

fear factory FEAR FACTORY SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT
The journey continues for one of the groundbreaking Metal bands of our time, with new material to be released in 2015...

tank TANK BEGIN WORK ON NEW ALBUM; BAND CONFIRMED FOR BANG YOUR HEAD
The band are scheduled to enter the studio in November with a release planned for early February...

blitzallica DIAMOND HEAD TO HEADLINE COUNTY DURHAM'S BLITZALLICA IN OCTOBER
Plus legendary Metal party band Dumpy's Rusty Nuts and old favorites Holosade who are reforming especially for this headbanging estravaganza...

saille SAILLE COMMENT ON FORTHCOMING THIRD ALBUM
"'Eldritch' differs quite a bit from our two previous albums," keyboardist Dries Gaerdelen says...

winger WINGER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BETTER DAYS COMIN'
Winger have released a new music video - the title track from their Billboard chart breaking album...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX ANNOUNCE SIX HEADLINE SHOWS IN EUROPE
This Autumn, Voodoo Six will play six headline shows in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER ANNOUNCES DECEMBER UK TOUR
Schenker will perform songs from the new album, which features the new single, 'Lord Of The Lost And Lonely' plus all the classics...

johnny thunders LOOKING FOR JOHNNY: THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY THUNDERS MOVIE TO BE RELEASED NEXT MONTH
When Johnny Thunders died in New Orleans on April 23rd 1991, he left behind a mystery...

metallica METALLICA TO RELEASE 27 LIVE ALBUMS BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR AND APPEAR IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS
To commemorate the anniversary of the LiveMetallica.com site, the band are offering CDs and LPs of every gig they played in 2014...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS AND THE TREATMENT ANNOUNCE UK TOURS
Kobra And The Lotus will be kicking off their Headline Tour on 24th September in support of their latest record 'High Priestess'...

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