Archive for February 13th, 2008

With Agents – “You Better Shop Around”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Agents are a band’s best friend and occasional worst enemy.

A “good” agent charges a fair, standardized fee (20% is common), and serves as an honest broker who represents the interests of both the buyer and the band. Just as no client ever wants to book the wrong band for their event, no reputable band ever knowingly allows themselves to be sent to a party for which they are hopelessly inappropriate. Good agents rely on word of mouth and repeat business to keep them working steadily.

“Bad” agents will book a $1,000 band for 2K, then pocket 50% of the gross (if they think they can get away with it). They will also send a polka band to a high school prom if there’s a fat commission in it for them. Sure – you’ll be ticked, and will never hire them again. But they’ll have already made a grand off of you and be looking for a new sucker.

So how do you – the buyer – know if you’ve called a “good” agent? Suggestions from friends or business associates are one method for learning who has provided honest and knowledgeable service in the past. Beware of depending on your venue for agency ideas. Too many of them have financial arrangements with a particular agent that benefits them – not you. Warning sign: when your venue recommends someone whose business cards just “happen” to be on their desk.

If you don’t have a friend who can steer you in the right direction, the best way to find a reputable agent is to “shop around.” Anyone you call who immediately tries to steer you toward a more expensive group than your budget permits is a “bad” agent who is looking out for his or her commission – not your best interests. Also, any agent who seems to be promoting only one particular band is not dealing straight with you. No band, no matter how good they are, is right for every occasion.

Once an agent quotes certain prices for individual bands, call a second – or even third – agent. Give them the same specs you gave the first agent. Chances are, you’ll hear back the names of some of the same bands, over and over. (This is a good sign. It probably means that these bands enjoy a good reputation in terms of talent and professionalism.) Get a price quote from each successive agent. Don’t be surprised if one of them offers the exact same band for less than the others. There is your “good” agent. (Why should you pay one penny more for the same product?)

Please note: once an agent has given you the name of a particular band, it is unethical in the extreme for you to then call that band directly and try to bypass the agency commission. Just as you expect integrity from your agent, he – and the bands he represents – should always receive the same from you.

Also please note: If you disregard the previous paragraph, the Laws of Kharma guarantee that a polka band will show up for your prom.