A Booking Agent’s Role – Tour Merch and Production?

Live Music Business - A picture of Josh Kline, a booking agent

The booking agent’s job is to find the promoters, offer them a deal (or accept the promoters offer), issue a contract and sit back and wait until the commission comes in, yes? Well, that may be a popular view and it seems that booking agents are now more involved with the bands touring plans than simply brokering deals with concert promoters.

A recent Billboard article features an in depth interview with Josh Kline, booking agent at United Talent Agency . Josh is the agent for Bring Me The Horizon, amongst others, and in this interview he talks candidly about his current role when booking shows and tours for his artists.

One of the (many interesting) things you will learn from the article is how Kline sees himself as contributor to the bands touring production ideas.

“I wouldn’t say I’m heavy-handed involved, but I’m certainly involved in a “This is a good idea,” “This might be more cost-effective than this,” and “This thing isn’t going to work. It’s too cumbersome and will cause problems on the road.”

He adds:

“Speaking from a production standpoint, when you have an artist where they can update the show as the tour rolls along, as they begin to fine-tune what works best, if you’re observant you can pick up on these little changes and see that the band, the production and the crowd are all kind of evolving together. It’s really cool. I don’t think it used to be that way but when you’re dealing with some of these new production tricks you can pull, you can be more creative and change your show as you go along”.

 

I’m intrigued by this as it often takes an ‘outsider’ (someone who is not on the tour, day in and day out) to come along and notice elements of the show that work well or leave the audience cold. And I’m not talking arenas and stadium shows – having someone critique the set list order on a club tour is just as useful.

Kline also mentions his involvement with the merchandising sales when his artist go on tour.

“But any artist I work with I definitely get involved with looking at the merch they’re selling and asking questions about how much they’re selling, what sizes they’re selling. Sometimes you can have a show that doesn’t sell a ton of tickets but they sell out of merch. If you can look at what the price points were, the configuration of extra small, small, medium, XL, you can kind of get a picture of who was there. So the more information that you can consume about what your artist is doing out there, the more educated you can book the next tours going forward.”

 

Which is a very old-school approach to data gathering (counting sizes of sold t-shirts) but, depending on genre, is probably very useful.

You should read the article here.

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