To learn more about the music industry, I chose to interview Kevin French from Paradigm Talent Agency. Paradigm is a country-wide company representing artists and other people in many different areas, including film, music, theatre, and literature, but French works at the New York City branch of the company and represents musicians. He is a booking agent, which means that he oversees the touring and concerts of the bands that he represents. This is different from being a band manager in that it is a more specified role in the planning of the band’s career, whereas the manager oversees everything. French’s job as a booking agent is focused on just the live performance side of a band or artist’s career.
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The most important part of a booking agent’s job is deciding where each band plays. Many bands will have different booking agents for different parts of the world. For example, French books tours in North America, South America, and sometimes Australia. The types of venues that an agent has their bands play at depend on the band. While some bands are big enough to play arenas, others are more suited to playing at mid-size or small clubs. One important factor in deciding what is right for a certain band is looking at their past tour history. If a certain band sold out a smaller venue (like the Paradise Rock Club in Boston) the last time they came to a city, then the booking agent will make the decision to take a step up to a bigger one (like the House of Blues). However, sometimes the choice of venue is a strategic move to boost ticket sales later. French said that sometimes, they will book a smaller venue in the hopes that the show will sell out in advance, which will raise the demand for tickets the next time the band comes to that area. Bands do not want to play at a venue where there will be a lot of empty seats, because not only will this make them lose money, but it would look bad for them, which will lower the demand for tickets the next time around.
There are a few different ways that French decides what bands he wants to work with. Often, because he is an established agent, he has good working relationships with band managers, who will approach him with a new band or artist that they think would be a good fit for him. The same concept applies to some attorneys representing bands or representatives from record labels. Occasionally, he will be contacted by a band or artist that is unsigned or new and he will be impressed enough by them that he will take them on. When this happens, he sometimes gets to work with them to find a record label or a manager, reversing the roles from the usual process. Although he does get contacted by a lot of bands, this does not happen very often, because unfortunately, there are just too many for him to listen to every single band that emails him.
French is also very involved in Boston Calling music festival. A member of one of the bands that he represents started the festival, and asked him to be a part of it when it started. He is one of the owners of the festival, and helps to decide what bands and artists to make offers to because they would be the best to play there. Although this is not exactly the same as what he does for the bands that he represents, it is still related to live music, and it still requires him to consider not only what music the consumer wants to see, but what will sell the most tickets to the festival.
Booking agents are important because they allow a band to reach consumers through live performance. For many fans, concerts are the most exciting part of the experience of listening to a band’s music. However, they would not be able to have this experience if bands did not know the best place to hold concerts. No artist can be expected to know every venue in the country, let alone the world, which is why booking agents are important, because it is their job to have this knowledge and help the band or artist navigate those decisions. They can also help the artists to figure out how to sell the most tickets and therefore make the greatest profit from their concerts. This process allows the artists to connect to their fans, as well as make money and promote their music.
When I asked French what the worst part of his job was, he had only one answer. Although he loves being able to interact with bands, go to shows, and travel, it means that he does not have a lot of free time. Even when he is not at work, he has to be available to take a call if needed, because shows are late at night, and if there is an issue, he is the one that people need to reach. Because of this, he always has to have his phone on and be checking his email, even when he is at home with his family. However, he said that for him, there are not any other issues that he has found with his job.
Like most parts of the music industry, if someone wanted to become a booking agent, they would most likely have to work their way up from the bottom, instead of starting there. Usually, someone would have to work as an intern or in the mail room at the agency that they might someday want to work for, and work to be promoted. For French, he took a slightly different route, because he started out owning a coffee shop that featured live music. When he sold the coffee shop, he started managing bands, and then started his own booking agency, which was eventually bought by Paradigm, where he works now. However, he said that this is a less common route, and that in general people do not get to go straight to managing or booking bands.
I think that this would definitely be a career path that I could consider for myself. Although I have not decided yet what my major will be, I am seriously considering Music Industry. I have not figured out yet what area of the music industry I would be most interested in, but I know that if that is what I choose, I want to do something where I am working very closely with bands and artists. I think that this is a career that would allow me to do that, because in order to make the right decisions for an artist, a booking agent has to have a good relationship with that artist and have a very thorough and intimate knowledge of their career so that they can know when and where they should perform.
When I talked to French, he told me that the best part of his job was getting to do what he loved. He said that he had always loved going to shows and being around music, and had known that he wanted his career to be somehow related to that. In his line of work, he gets to go to concerts all the time to see music that he enjoys, as well as travel to other places around the world to support the artists that he has signed. This is something that I relate to. I have always loved music, performing, going to shows, and traveling, and being able to do those things for the `rest of my life sounds like the perfect career for me. Although it would be a lot of work, and it is not always just having fun and going to shows, I think that being a booking agent sounds like a very enjoyable career because you get to be around the music that you love and are passionate about.
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