What Is a Booking Agent?

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Whether you're attending a concert, watching a movie or checking out the latest runway fashions, booking agents are partially responsible for making it all happen. Music artists, actors, athletes, models and other public figures are generally not involved in business aspects of their trade and rely on booking agents for making contacts and handling negotiations for jobs and appearances.

How Booking Agents Function

Booking agents contract with clients and either work independently or as part of a larger group of additional agents and support staff. Agents solicit work for their clients -- sometimes called talent -- by utilizing resources within their chosen industry. Booking agents find work for their talent by making phone calls and sending correspondence to industry contacts -- called employers -- or by responding to employer inquiries for a particular individual or talent type. The agent works with the talent and employer to negotiate scheduling, price and contract terms until a mutual agreement is made by all parties.

Types of Booking Agents

Booking agents usually specialize in one specific industry in an effort to maximize resources, contacts and knowledge pertaining to their specialty. Although all agents perform similar duties, they may distinguish themselves with titles such as talent agent, music agent, sports agent, model agent or entertainment agent as a marketing tool to attract clients and employers, and to demonstrate their area of expertise.

How Booking Agents are Paid

Agents are commonly paid by clients on a percentage-based commission, but flat fee and discounted client payment models are sometimes used. In a commission situation, the agent negotiates the job price for the client. When the client is payed by the employer, the client pays the agent a percentage, which is anywhere from 5 to 25 percent, based on gross job proceeds. In a flat fee scenario, the agent is paid a flat fee by the client in an amount stated on the client/agent job agreement. In some circumstances, agents negotiate a price with the employer, find talent to work at a discounted rate and keep the difference as their compensation.

Booking Agent Requirements

Most states or municipalities regulate booking agents and require some form of permit or licensing. Special education is not required, but booking agents must possess a working knowledge of industry-mandated regulations, contract law, prevailing rates for different job types and the ability to tactfully negotiate with both clients and employers. Intimate industry knowledge, paying attention to relevant industry news, and predicting and capitalizing on trends are must-have skills, along with the resources and contacts to network and form relationships with clients and industry decision makers.

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About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.