When should an indie band take on a booking agent, as opposed to booking their own shows?
**Q&A with Eva Alexiou-Reo of FATA Booking Agency.
Q: What is a venue looking for when they book a band?
A: There are so many bands (agents) out there that are trying to lock in live shows, but what makes your band (or the one you represent) stand out? If you have tour history, then you are likely to have established some sort of draw. Venues are looking for bands who can bring attention to their venue by draw or good press. If there is a band that does not have a good draw yet, but does have a lot going on in the press category or has spent a good amount of time supporting larger touring acts/festivals, then they are likely to be a band that a venue is looking to lock in at their venue.
Q: What are some difficulties an indie group might experience when booking a show, as opposed to a more established band? How can a band combat these difficulties?
DIY/INDIE/Major label bands, etc. all have similar difficulties when booking a show. Promoters tend to want to have security in numbers. In other words, the band needs to draw. However, being signed to a label does help the attraction. A larger indie label (or major label) means that there are more people working the band aside from just the promoter. Bands that do not have a larger team helping them can take out their own bandsintown advertisement, Facebook advertisement, and also reach out to the locals per show directly. The more effort put in, the more likely the promoter will be excited as well as the bands confirmed to play with the band the night of the show.
Q: When should an indie band take on a booking agent, as opposed to booking their own shows?
A: This is a great question! I feel that a band should take on a booking agent after they have booked a few tours themselves or if they have a high demand by fans to be in national markets. Since an agent's job is to find and route live engagements, then it should be during a time when there is something going on in those markets. With that being said, it's very common for bands these days to have an agent before hitting the road.
Q: What would a basic checklist look like for an indie band booking a show?
A: The three Ws is something I teach in my classes (at the University of the Arts & Drexel University): Why, Where, and When to tour.
Why: Ideally the tour should be around promoting album (or digital) sales, making money (selling tickets and merchandise), and playing in markets where they have fans or their music is well received. Keep in mind, it's important to play the right venue as well. Knowing your band's demographic takes you a long way. Lastly, building fans!
Where: Touring where an artist is getting radio, press, and/or television opportunities or plays. Markets that you have toured before, carry your record in stores, or show interest by facebook regions. Playing in the right room (capacity, same demographic as other bands in your genre, easy to get to for fans, etc.).
When: Touring when there is something to promote - new single, new record, new video, etc. Avoiding high traffic periods or congested markets with much larger acts. Know when larger acts tend to be off the road - this gives you more of a chance to get people to your show.
Q: How do you break a band into an international market? What are some of the difficulties you experience when booking shows in other regions?
A: Breaking a band into an international market can be extremely difficult. The band needs to be available to tour in that market to make sure the release can be properly promoted and built. I find that the band will need a proper release on a label as well as the funds to tour in the international region."
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Eva Alexiou-Reo began her career in the music industry booking local shows and working at college radio stations. It was during this time that she came across a band named Hot Water Music and began booking tour dates for the band on the East Coast. Developing a taste for booking, Eva soon branched off to begin Fata Booking Agency, Inc, which is now an accomplished independent booking agency based in Philadelphia. The company has worked with the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day, Flogging Molly, Hot Water Music, Elliott, Engine Down, The Blood Brothers, Pretty Girls Make Graves, and Mae, among others, and represents artists across several different regions internationally.